I had seen pictures of Tongyeong for years, but never been able to go. So, on Buddha's birthday, a group of us headed down there -- along with several thousand other tourists taking advantage of the extended holiday.
This trip was very different for me. There is a lot to do in Tongyeong and instead of finding peace and solitude in what would appear to be a cozy town by the sea, one finds themselves amidst many other tourists.
That being said, my friends and I took a different tack and created our own tour from Hong Sang-soo's Hahaha (English, Korean). We also visited Hansando (to see Yi Sun-shin's Jeseungdang Port), Mireuksan, Sebyeonggwan Hall, and Dongpirang Village.
I was particularly interested in Dongpirang because in 2007 an ordinance was passed allowing people to paint murals on the walls as a revitalization effort. I had heard of similar efforts but never seen it. The paintings were fun, although nothing spectacular on any technical level; however, I could never escape the irony of being surrounded by wealthy travelers (or those well-enough off to take a vacation) waiting turns to take their pictures in front of not-particularly-good paintings that were painted on (at least what used to be) a poor person's wall. I suppose its intended aim of urban revitalization was met, although if I lived there, I would not be happy with the results.
To be fair, for the most part Tongyeong was as beautiful as in all the photos I had seen. I had not mentally prepared for the amount of people that would be there, but I should have since this is Korea.
To me, the best part was enjoying delicious food with my friends and seeing the quiet and mostly nondescript places where Hahaha was filmed. Also, while blowfish soup is delicious, it is even more so while eating it in the same chairs and tables that shared the asses of Kim Sang-gyeong, Moon So-ri, Kim Kang-woo, Ye Ji-won, and Yoo Joon-sang.