Tuesday, May 19, 2015

바다 노래

The sky above Daegwang Beach on a clear sunny day in spring.

Located on the western side of Imja Island and beside the Tulip Garden (the venue of the annual Shinan Tulip Festival) is the Daegwang Beach (대광해수욕장 , 大光海水浴場 ). What is so special about this beach is you don't seem to be able to see the end of it no matter how far you walk. It is Korea's longest and widest beach - 12km in length and 350m in width at low tide. If you are to walk from end to end, it will take you about an hour and 20 minutes. Even on bicycle, you will need half an hour. The white sandy beach is also the only beach in Korea that has no gradient, or in other word, flat. Due to ideal environmental conditions, horse racing competition is held annually at the beach since 2008. It is the dream horse riding ground for many enthusiasts. I can't help imagining how amazing a spectacle it would be to watch horses galloping across the open beach, splashing water like fountain with every steps.

The tulip festival was on and so tulips were planted on the beach

Two of the five sculptures of racing horse at Daegwang Beach.

Ribbons fluttering in strong wind by the beach. The wind was chilly but the sun relentless.

The white sandy Daegwang Beach is long, wide and flat. It seems like you can see one end but maybe not.

The Daegwang Beach is just beside the Tulip Garden (where the windmill is located)

Seagull in flight

Moving away from the beach and on my way to the next destination - Imjado's stadium

On the day of my visit, there was a recording for the KBS's long-running singing program - 전국노래자랑 (National Singing Contest). The program is into its 27th year since its debut in 1988. It was the second time Shinan Imja Island was chosen as the program's venue. The last filming took place 17 years ago. The show was scheduled to start at 1pm at the stadium.

Colorful tulips lining the road to the stadium

The stage is set for recording to begin

When you speak of 전국노래자랑, you can't avoid mentioning the host of the program, the 88 year old Korean singer, comedian and entertainer, Song Hae (송해, 宋海). Song Hae is 전국노래자랑 and 전국노래자랑 is Song Hae, they are synonymous and inseparable. The moment you see and hear him on stage, you will realize why the veteran is so popular in Korea, especially among the older generation.

The more you know about Song Hae, the more likely you will become his fan. It was said that he has three "no" in life  - no car, no mobile phone and no cue cards. Without cue cards, whatever he said or did in his program was hundred percent spontaneous. It was also said that he had on one occasion visited a local bathhouse one day before the recording of his show so that he could get to know the residents better. When asked how long more he would host 전국노래자랑, he said he would continue until it becomes too difficult for him.

Fifteen minutes before the actual recording start, Song Hae came on stage to speak and build rapport with his audience. One of the questions he asked them was, "What is the most valuable thing in life?". After a pause, he said, "It's health. Only with a healthy body will you then be able to pursue other valuable things in life... I wish everyone good health." While there was nothing new, it was still a good reminder, especially when advised by an octogenarian.

Song Hae rehearsing the audience for the show's opening. 전국~~ (Song Hae)  노래자랑!! (Audience)

The forever affable and witty host of 전국노래자랑, Song Hae

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