▲ Beach Castle, owned by Lim Dong Weon, above, may look a little rough on the outside, but inside is a warm and welcoming place to stay. Photos by Jon Walker
Lucas Groenig fought the mold, and the mold won. Having already paid the deposit for their Shin Jeju apartment, he and partner Melissa Chow were in desperate need of a temporary residence while relief efforts to eradicate the fungi occupied their home. While many places had vacant rooms, their welcome signs flickered out after hearing about the couple’s baggage - a year-old golden retriever. When they were all on the verge of being homeless, one man alleviated their concerns with the simple response of “no problem.”
Lim Dong Weon, originally from Busan, owns and operates the Beach Castle pension. A lover of the sea, Lim was captivated by the coastal location and made the decision to purchase the establishment four years ago. Lim owns five dogs himself, so Groenig’s canine companion was certainly welcome.
Heading west, you’ll find Beach Castle after driving a few minutes along the Hagwi shore road. When rolling into the parking lot, guests may need to keep in mind an old lesson taught them by their mothers _ don’t judge a book by its cover, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Beach Castle has survived its fair share of storms, and it shows. However, plans are on the horizon for a much needed paint job.
Upon walking through the front door, you’re in for a surprise. All the interior walls are entirely covered in Hinoki wood - a cypress tree from Central Japan commonly used for the construction of castles and shrines. “I still remember the smell of the hardwood. The place reminded me of a cottage in Canada,” Groenig said.
A wood stove crackles in the center of the main floor, providing warmth to a small dog dozing nearby. An eclectic assortment of wall decor and small statues, from classic musicians to Wild West cowboys, gives a curious character to the interior of Beach Castle. Tiki masks, sports memorabilia and old fashioned bicycles all add to the intrigue. Your eyes are temporarily distracted from the surroundings when greeted by the hospitable team of Lim and his wife, Ham Hyen Suk, offering coffee and snacks - oranges, rice cakes and whatever else happens to be on hand.
This type of hospitality doesn’t end after receiving the key to your room. When returning to Beach Castle in the evening, Groenig would often find Lim sharing a meal with other guests. “He would motion with his hand to the food on the table and asked if we wanted to join them.” Comfortable speaking English, Lim makes the extra effort to get to know all his guests. Above and beyond hotel services, he’ll ensure his patrons know the lay of the land, and where to eat and drink.
For those eager to maximize their stay, borrow one of Lim’s bicycles and explore the scenic coastline. Or grab a fishing rod and cast a line just a few steps outside the front door. At the end of the day, return home and fry up some food on the outdoor barbeques. “If you ask, he will try and accommodate your every wish,” Groenig said.
While tourists make up the majority of the guests during the summertime, during the winter, seasonal workers take advantage of Lim’s reasonable monthly rates for an extended stay. Small rooms house one to two persons and large rooms accommodate three to four. Rooms are equipped with all regular hotel amenities plus a kitchenette, including gas stove, mini fridge and a sink. Beach Castle faces north, allowing all guests a sea view from their sunrooms.
Although Groenig’s apartment was ready for his return after three weeks, he chose to stay at Beach Castle for a full month rather than return to his city dwelling. “My room was fantastic. I didn’t want to leave.” Having since returned to Canada, Groenig remains in contact with Lim. “Mr. Lim opened his doors to me and my family. He took me in when no one else would and I now have a life-long friend. He has shown me another side of Korean hospitality which I wouldn't have experienced otherwise.”
Beach Castle 2812-7 Hagwi-2ri, Aewol-eup Jeju City Tel: 064-713-5027 (English and Korean) Airport pickup possible
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