Seaweed drying at Kyongpo Beach (May 2000).
(Please read this before you copy our photos or text.)

Here we have some seaweed drying on a barbed wire fence. Seaweed? Barbed wire?

When your entire nation is surrounded by ocean, you tend to go there first for your food. Although South Korea isn't technically surrounded by ocean, thanks to North Korea, the north-south division is a relatively late development (if you think in terms of Korea's five-century history). More on this later.

Kim (or gim in the new Romanization, nori in Japan) is made from a type of seaweed. Everybody eats it. Koreans consider it to be one of the "perfect foods." It goes into kimbap (literally, "seaweed rice," sort of like a California roll) and is also served with plain rice.

Now, about that barbed wire. Technically, the Korean War never really ended, and the two Koreas live under an extended cease-fire. All South Korean beaches are lined with barbed wire, with the idea that it makes more of a challenge for potential invaders from the north. The South Korean military even rake the beaches every evening, so they can check the following morning to see if any bad guys have left footprints on them overnight.

Closing the beaches is not an option, and certainly not Kyongpo Beach (Gyeongpodae). Not only is it popular with Kangnung (Gangneung) residents, it attracts tourists from all across Korea (Kangwon Do, or Gangwon if you prefer, is known as a resort spot). The beach is lined with fresh seafood restaurants. How fresh? You can point to the critter you want, as it'll be swimming in a tank outside the restaurant. The tanks are fed with sea water brought up through pipes laid in the sand. Korea is a paradise for seafood lovers, and hell for those who gag at "that fishy smell."

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