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Changwon, Miryang readies for guests ahead of ISSF championship

Cities in South Gyeongsang Province offer mysteriously icy creeks, seafood, temples and shooting ranges 

The eyes of the sports world will be on Korea later in the month, this time in the southern and hottest place in the country, as the city of Changwon will host the International Shooting Sport Federation World Championship from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15.

With outsiders expected to visit the region -- including 12 athletes and 10 officials from North Korea -- Changwon and the neighboring city of Miryang are preparing to host what could be a significant influx of tourists.

“We’ve been conducting a campaign to welcome outsiders, starting in July, which centers on the merchants at Joongang Market in Jinhae,” Changwon Mayor Huh Sung-moo said.

In line with the “Visit Changwon” year, Huh said his goal is to change the image of the area from an industrial town to a tourist spot -- one that people would want to revisit.

The city currently operates city-wide tour buses from Changwon, Changwon Joongang and Masan train stations, where the KTX makes stops.

For foreigners, the homepage provides services in Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese, the same four languages used for light-emitting diode information signboards across the city. The nationwide travel hotline 1330 is also a useful tool for information in these languages.

Changwon International Shooting Range (Yoon Min-sik/The Korea Herald)
Changwon International Shooting Range (Yoon Min-sik/The Korea Herald)

Shooting range

One of the must-visit spots in Changwon is the Changwon International Shooting Range, one of the two venues for the world championship along with the Jinhae Naval Shooting Range. The place is located not far from the city center, just a 10-minute drive from the Changwon Joongang Station.

This is where you can watch the games, but more significantly for tourists, it is a place where you can experience hands-on programs related to shooting.

Among the most popular program there is the clay target shooting. The standard cost is 25,000 won for 20 shots, but you can shoot less at a lower cost, using Beretta, Browning, Benell or Miroku rifles.

The target moves far slower than competition levels, but handling a rifle can be tough if you are not used to it. You may want to pay attention to the instructions given prior to shooting, informing you to watch out for the blunt recoil of the gun, the noise it makes and how not to get burned when empty cartridges shoot out of the back.

Changwon International Shooting Range (Yoon Min-sik/The Korea Herald)
Changwon International Shooting Range (Yoon Min-sik/The Korea Herald)

But it is immensely fun once you get the hang of it. I ended up shooting down half of the 10 shots I took, which my instructor told me was not bad for a beginner.

As it uses live shots, you have be 14 years old or older to shoot the rifles, which means you need a photo ID.

Programs without an age limit include indoor laser shooting at 2,000 won ($1.77) a game -- 10 shots -- and virtual reality screen shooting. These look like arcade games, but they actually provide accurate feedback of how well you’ve done.

Just another 10-minute ride from the shooting range is Yongji Lake, which is a good spot to enjoy the nighttime view and a stroll. It also rents out motor boats that can each hold up to eight people.

Mayor Huh said he plans to create more tourism programs with local content, with themes ranging from historical figures to K-pop.

“(Changwon) is abundant in stories, but it has not been developed much. We were too focused on the industrial parks and have let these elements slide through our fingers, which will not happen anymore,” he said.

Among the projects being discussed is hosting a branch of Starfield shopping mall in the city, which has divided the public.


Miryang is famous for pork gukbap, a dish of steaming bowl of pork broth, pork and rice. Some foreigners may find the strong smell and flavor difficult, however. Goat meat is also a popular delicacy of the region, served at places like Yaksan Garden, along with a dish made of lance asiabell roots.

Eopung restaurant (pronounced uh-poong-shik-dang) is one of the most famous eateries in Changwon with fresh seafood. Eonyanggak (un-yang-gak), also in the city, is popular for its bulgogi and guk-bap.


Miryang is one of the hottest places in the country, and it was boiling hot on the parking lot of Cheonghwangsan. Instructions urged visitors to hike on for another 20 minutes or so, which seemed borderline brutal.

As I began the ascent, however, I encountered a cool breeze from the stream that was flowing down from the mountaintop.

Eoreumgol, which means ice valley, is one of the mysteries of Miryang, which is famous for doing everything opposite of Mother Nature. In winter, when everything freezes over, hot water flows through the creek.

Eoreumgol (Mirang City)
Eoreumgol (Mirang City)

Last week, as Korea suffered from one of the hottest summers in recorded history, the water was icy cold as it has been every summer.

Designated the 224th national heritage by the Korean government, Eoreumgol is famous for the ice that forms within its rocks. The ice could be found near Neodeolgyeong, which means rocky hills, near which it felt like standing beside an air conditioner.

Those who wish to hop aboard a cable car that goes up the mountain can do so near Eoreumgol. The apples grown near the icy creek are said to be sweet and one of the delicacies of the region, so you might want to try that.

Cheonghwangsan and the bordering mountains are known as the Yeongnam Alps region.

Miryang is well-known for its temples, including Pyochungsa on the slopes of Jaeyaksan.

It is where the famous Buddhist monk Samyeongdang, or Yujeong, was enshrined. It was built in 654 AD during the Silla Dynasty. 

Pyochungsa (Miryang City)
Pyochungsa (Miryang City)

The 1,000-year-old temple has been designated a treasure by the South Gyeongsang Provincial Government. It contains valuable structures, such as a stone tower designated a national treasure of Korea.

By Yoon Min-sik