Located in the city of Busan, Haeundae (해운대) is commonly known as one of the best beaches in Korea. In summer, the endless sand beach is filled with families, friends and lovers enjoying the sunny breeze of Korea’s biggest port city. This is my third time visiting Haeundae but first time ever to visit in winter. Thanks to my dad, we got to spend a night at a luxurious hotel room overlooking the coast. As I looked down from the balcony I saw something odd on the sands of Haeundae beach.
It’s the mysterious crop circles!! I mean.. not circles, but staggering lines heading towards the sea. Who made it on a beach and why?
As I looked harder, I was able to spot the bulldozer hard at work. It seemed to be leveling the ground by pushing out the sands towards the sea, making patterns of uneven lines on the beach.
Dad explained that it became an annual thing on Haeundae to resupply the sand on the beach. The beach has been losing its surface area by erosion and by recent construction of hotels and condos built right by the sea. The city of Busan has carried out a countermeasure to artificially extend the beach by bringing in tones of sand to “fill in” the sea. The plan seemed to work as in 2014 the beach was extended by twice in size compare to previous year. The city has announced that in 2015 they will restore the width of the beach as it was in 1940s which was approximately 70m in average.
At this point, it is difficult for me to not think about the possible side effect. The amount of sand they bringing in is astronomical and I cannot imagine where they dig up all this sand (I could not find an article regarding this). Thinking that this is an annual event is also making me nervous. I believe there is a limit to what human can do to alter nature (and really we should not alter any if possible) and what city of Busan is doing to Haeundae looks quite rash.
The sand they pour in during the winter season will not stay forever. If Busan keeps allowing corporates to build high-rises near or on the sands of Haeundae then I fear that within few decades the beach might simply disintegrate into the waves of Korean straits. Of course, the city will keep provide emergency measures but I believe the nature is more likely to fall apart when humans attempt to apply more alterations to it.
What is more unfortunate is that the articles I read about restoration of Haeundae did not mention the possible risks of artificial beach. As I looked down, I saw that as more sands are being pushed out into the sea the coastal water becomes more and more muddy. Dad told me that back in the days when he travelled to Busan as a student the water was clear blue and the spacious sandy beach seemed endless. It is regrettable that our generation and the generations to come will never be able to witness the true beauty of Korea’s number one beach.