The Korea Herald


[Contribution] Enjoy a safe, exciting summer at Korea’s beautiful beaches

By Korea Herald

Published : Aug. 8, 2023 - 16:13

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Cho Seung-hwan, minister of oceans and fisheries (Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries) Cho Seung-hwan, minister of oceans and fisheries (Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries)

By Cho Seung-hwan, minister of oceans and fisheries

As summer arrives, the blazing sun glazes up the asphalt and the summer heat intensifies. Indeed, the season to embark on a well-deserved summer vacation has arrived. And yet, we inevitably mull over the specifics of somewhat vague but long-awaited vacations around this time of the year. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel priorities have shifted, focusing more on nature, outdoor activities, healing, relaxation and unique experiences. When it comes to a destination that can satisfy such demands and the interests of all ages, nothing compares to our pristine beaches.

This year, we are pleased to announce the opening of 264 beaches nationwide, with some beaches in Busan and Jeju already welcoming visitors beginning last month. Starting this month, as the summer vacation season marks its official start, the swimming season at beaches in Incheon, Gangwon, Ulsan, South Chungcheong Province and South Gyeongsang Province will commence consecutively.

In particular, the ministry anticipates more visitors to local beaches this summer, as this marks the first vacation season since the government’s easing of coronavirus crisis levels. In fact, Korean beaches are already experiencing a revival as Haeundae Beach and Songjeong Beach, which opened earlier, have already experienced a 5.8 percent increase in the number of visitors year-on-year.

To ensure the safety and enjoyment of beach-goers, the Ministry of Oceans, in collaboration with local governments responsible for beach management, has conducted thorough site inspections and maintenance of safety facilities and bulletins prior to the beach openings. Local governments plan to actively guide visitors and crack down on unfair business practices, such as demanding unreasonable user or spot fees and commissions. Additionally, with the implementation of the revised Act on the Management and Operation of Beaches on June 28, local governments now have the legal rationale and authority to promptly remove any camping equipment or unauthorized items left behind on our shorelines, thereby enhancing efforts aimed at reducing beach vandalism.

Furthermore, each region is organizing a variety of exciting activities. Songdo Beach in Busan will host the Enjoy Songdo Festival. Gangwon Province offers a dog-friendly beach in Gangneung and a carbon-neutral beach in Sokcho, while South Chungcheong Province plans to offer various experience programs at Chunjangdae Beach, Waemok Village Beach, and Mongsanpo Beach, catering to the needs of family visitors.

In addressing concerns of the public and nearby businesses about the recent release of radioactive contaminated water from Fukushima, the ministry would like to reassure vacationers and the general public that Korean beaches pose no risk based on simulation outcomes regarding radiation concentration and the spread of the contaminated water in the coastal waters of Korea since the Fukushima nuclear accident. The Ministry of Oceans, together with local governments, continues to actively combat the spread of inaccurate information related to Fukushima’s contaminated water to protect local merchants and economies near the beaches. First, to alleviate unease among the public, emergency radiation inspections were conducted at 20 major beaches prior to their opening, confirming their safety. Additionally, the ministry plans to carry out weekly radiation tests and disclose the results even in the event of contaminated water discharges.

The Ministry of Oceans, alongside local governments, is fully committed to ensuring a worry-free beach experience for all visitors. We encourage everyone to embrace the first summer since the downgrading of the coronavirus crisis level with confidence and create and enjoy cherished memories with your loved ones.

Cho Seung-hwan is South Korea's minister of oceans and fisheries. The views expressed in this column are his own. – Ed.