March 21, 2023

Breaking in Baengnyeong: The world’s ‘most dangerous’ border

Island nearest to North Korean shores has "frontline" reputation

One of the best places on Baengnyeong Island for gazing down upon the North Korean coastline is a hilltop on the northeast. A quiet road winds and rises out of the island’s main settlement through thickets of spruce trees.

Puffing my way along the route, I suddenly behold the Simcheong pavilion, a traditional-looking two-storey building devoted to one of Korea’s most cherished legends. The ground level has scale models and audiovisual depictions. From the upstairs windows, I can see the humps of the Jangsan Cape, a promontory that juts out of Ryongyon County South Hwanghae Province. Jangsan rises from the ocean and mists as if painted on a Chinese scroll.