Gatbawi – Mokpo-si, South Korea - Atlas Obscura


Mokpo-si, South Korea

Natural rock formations resembling monks in hats inspire folk legends. 


The name Gatbawi literally means “hat rock,” and these natural stone formations are said to resemble monks wearing traditional Korean bamboo hats. 

According to legend, a young man’s father was deathly ill and he couldn’t afford the medicine that could save him. The young man worked as a servant for a rich man for one month in order to raise the money.  Even though he did a good job, the rich man refused to pay his salary. 

The young man was distraught that he could not save his father. As he sat lamenting the situation, a monk spoke with him and reminded him that his father had been ill without care for a month. The young man rushed home only to learn that his father had already passed away. The young man was determined to give his father a proper burial, but while carrying the coffin he slipped and dropped it into the ocean. The grieving son felt so bad about failing his father that he sat still in one place without eating or drinking until he turned to stone. These rocks later rose from the ocean to represent him and his father.

Gatbawi is a natural sandstone-and-tafoni formation, and is considered one of the “8 famous spots of Mokpo”. Today, visitors can climb on hiking trails behind the rocks, but the only way to get a good look at them is from the ocean side, either from the Bohaenggyo foot bridge that circles the formation or by tour boat.

Know Before You Go

Take Bus 15 from the train station and get off at Gatbawi. Head toward the ocean, which is visible from the bus stop. Take the bridge to see the rocks from the ocean side.

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April 24, 2013

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