‘Bridging the Gap’ is a small project shot on Somaemuldo. All of the images are monochrome captures of this beautifully rugged island to the south of Tongyeong. To see the images at their best, click on the thumbnails below to open in Lightbox. If you enjoy my work, keep up to date by following Chris Cusick Photography on Facebook.
The city is eerily quiet as you catch a dawn taxi to Tongyeong’s Ferry Excursion Terminal. No sign of the usual ajusshis playing baduk by the roadside. No fruit sellers or delivery drivers. None of the ordinary Gyeongnam cacophony. Even the market sellers are yet to set up shop for the day ahead in Jungang. The terminal, too, almost always a hive of activity, is only sparsely populated by the keenest of outdoorsmen. It’s a little too early in the season for most.
You board the ferry as the day’s first light begins to leak from behind the distant hills, taking your place on board for the ninety-minute voyage into the misty abyss. As the temperature rises, the mist slowly melts from the still waters of the Hallyeo Maritime National Park, revealing a scattering of islands in every direction. You’re buffeted by the wind and regret not taking warmer clothing but the view compels you to remain on deck. You sail beyond Hansan, then Bijin, and a host of other small islands before Somaemuldo comes into view, her beautiful karst cliffs rising proud from the East China Sea.
You finally arrive at the small port that connects this jewel of the Pacific to the outside world. All fifty of the island’s residents live but a stone’s throw from here, and almost all seem present as the tourists disembark, enticing you to their makeshift market stalls with today’s bounty from the crystalline surrounding waters. You push on, ascending Mangtaebong, the island’s highest point, serving as a natural observatory for the wonders below. From here your gaze lingers upon the horizon’s myriad of islands scattered like emeralds on a carpet of blue. You tell yourself you didn’t know Korea could look so beautiful. You turn your attention to the proud formations of rugged Deungdaeseom, learning that the lighthouse at its crest is a remnant of Korea’s troubled past, installed by the Japanese during the last brutal period of occupation. You feel a sense of pride for your adoptive nation.
A short, sharp descent delivers you to the island’s main attraction, Somaemul’s famous land bridge. A slither of rock reveals itself as the water recedes, guiding the way to Deungdaeseom. The icy water is yet knee deep, but your sense of adventure bests your patience and you wade across the slippery trail; the second island is yours and yours alone if only for a moment – soon the horde of tourists behind follow suit. You climb to the base of the lighthouse, and sit a while with the cool ocean breeze on your face, staring out into the ocean. You’ll soon depart this beautiful island, and vow one day to return.