Renowned for its abundance of megalithic dolmen sites, Gochang lies atop the ancient settlement of Morobiri. It’s home to one of the best-preserved fortresses in South Korea and a temple that’s famed for its camellias. It’s also the birthplace of the beloved Korean poet “Midang”.
Things to do in Gochang
Perched on the slopes of Dosolsan is Seonunsa, which serves as a head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. Established in the 6th century, it encompasses several cultural treasures that include the Main Buddha Hall and a bronze seated statue of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. The temple is particularly impressive during the late winter when its camellia trees are in bloom, some of which are around 500 years old.
Constructed in the early years of the Joseon Dynasty is Gochangeupseong Fortress, which was designed to protect the town against Japanese invaders. Its magnificent stone walls were built by the local residents and extend for 1,684 metres, with gates on the north, east and west sides. Designated as a Historic Site, the complex includes the remains of around 20 government buildings that are waiting to be explored.
Gochang is also home to the Ramsar-listed Ungok Wetland, which has been recently rehabilitated after being used for rice cultivation. It provides a habitat for several rare and endangered plant and animal species, such as Chinese water deer and Seoul frog. Ungok village is also notable for its megalithic dolmens, which are designated as part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Getting around Gochang
Gochang is around a one-hour drive from Gwangju and 1.5 hours from Gwangju Airport, which has regular flights to Seoul and Jeju. Long-distance buses connect to Gochang and travel throughout the county, accessing most of its attractions. The centre of Gochang can easily be explored on foot.