▲ The newest addition to Seogwipo Harbor is sure to turn some heads. Saeyeon Bridge, bedecked with colorful LED lights and its design inspired by boats that had once sailed by the very spot it now occupies, compliments not only the scenery but the heart of the harbor. Photo by Jenie Hahn
Simon and Garfunkel might not quite have had Saeyeon Bridge in mind when they sang their famous song of consolation and support through difficult times, but the barely more than a month old attraction, tucked snugly in front of the Seogwipo Harbor near Cheonjiyeon Waterfalls of Jeju Island, is sure to offer a safe haven away from the troubles of everyday life for one and all. One should be more than happy to ‘lay themselves down’ here for a well earned respite over definitely calm and relaxing waters.
Saeyeon Bridge (The name is an abbreviation from a phrase which means a bridge that connects Saesom [Bird Island] to Seogwipo Harbor) is definitely one of a kind and will offer something that most have not experienced before. It is by no means more imposing in terms of size or presence compared to its sister counterparts all over the world. Rather than trying to be competitive, it just unobtrusively takes full advantage of its surroundings.
By record, it is the longest footbridge ever built in Korea, 169m in length and 4-7m in width. It boasts of being built in the latest method of bridge construction which allows the pedestrians an unobstructed panoramic view from any location on the bridge. That alone is worth a trip to see it, but there is something more. In the middle of the bridge, an architectural design modeled after the taewoo, a traditional boat used by Jeju people, commands the center of attention. The mast struts unapologetically up into the sky, silhouetted half and half against the canvas of the deep blue ocean and sky. What may appear at first glance to be a simple, uncomplicated bridge with a little deviation of a taewoo in the middle proves to be something far more complex.
From the Seogwipo harbor This is the main point of entry. From here the bridge offers two ways of passage across. One way is not level throughout its course. It slants upwards smoothly culminating into the top sharp point of the mast in the middle where the taewoo appears to be waiting to usher pedestrians on board its welcoming upper deck. For the less adventurous, but by no means less rewarding, are the nice and flat walkways on either side.
On the bridge Once on the bridge however, it is quickly discovered that the lower deck does not give you safe passage to Saesom. It is only the upper arching walkway that eventually leads to the island. Still, for both options, one can only marvel at the breathtaking view of Seogwipo harbor to the North and dazzling blue as far as the eye can see into the horizon to the South. The taewoo is also accessorized with a spiral staircase that gives free access from the upper deck to the lower deck and vice versa along with the quintessential nautical wooden decks to make the bridge feel as if it were actually a ship.
Saesom’s seascape This small island offers a 1.2 km esplanade around the island with shady resting areas, environment-friendly wooden stumps for stools, wooden decks, rocks to climb over to get a closer look at the ocean, and a feeling of accomplishment from having circumnavigated the island, which takes up anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour depending on whether one ambles or does a brisk walk. Be sure not to miss the shrubbery framed picture perfect view of the bridge almost at the end of the trail.
At night A colorful array of LED lights decorates the bridge as well as the island after dark offering yet another facet to the multiple aspects of the bridge. The mast of the taewoo is adorned with white lights giving the impression that they are a series of pearls decorating the exterior of a conch shell.
A bridge carries many symbols and one of the most prominent is being a medium between two separate entities. Saeyeon Bridge is sure to smooth over some ruffled waters and will not only bridge the gap between two physical lands but, will certainly charter a new navigational chapter in Jeju history.
Saeyeon Bridge can be crossed for free anywhere between sunrise and 10 p.m.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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