Margaret and Friends at Kyongpo Beach (May 2000).
(Please read this before you copy our photos or text.)

Kyongpo Beach (Gyeongpodae) is the place for Kangnung (Gangneung) residents to cool off -- it's always several degrees cooler than the city. In midsummer it's packed. But on this mild weekday in May, the beach was quiet as Margaret watched the tide come in along with her two small friends.

The Korean War never officially ended, and in some ways it still defines South Korea. The military rakes the sand on Kyongpo beach each night, then they check the next morning for footprints, which might mean a North Korean invasion. So far they haven't caught any North Koreans this way, but at least it keeps the beaches clean.

The troops even change the scenery around from time to time on the less public parts of the beach. They figure this will fool North Korea's automatic landing and targeting equipment.

The sky of Kyongpo Beach is always a gorgeous clear blue right after a rain, but then it gradually it turns back to the blue-grey you see here. This is Kangnung, home of Korea's cleanest air, but even they have their share of smog. Seoul can be murkier than Tokyo. We'll get into that in more detail elsewhere. Breathe deep.

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