Geography of Korea: VI. Chungcheong-do > 2. Chungcheongnam-do
Traditionally the large cities of Chungcheongnam-do were Gongju and Hongseong, but with the advent of the Japanese colonial period and the completion of the Gyeongbu railway the new city of Daejeon grew to be the province’s largest city, which it remains to this day. In 1989, Daejeon was elevated to the status of jikhalsi, a municipality directly under the administration of the central government, and as such was administratively separated from Chungcheongnam-do. In 1995 it became one of the country’s first five metropolitan cities (gwangyeoksi). The capital of Chungcheongnam-do province was originally Gongju but in 1932 the provincial seat was transferred to Daejeon, and then in 2013 to Hongseong. The population of Chungcheongnam-do is 2.05 million (about 4 percent of the national total). The population of Daejeon is 1.53 million (about 3 percent of the national total). The province’s total area is 8,204 sq. km. (8.2 percent of the national territory), while its population density is 250 persons/sq. km., making it the fourth most densely populated province after Gyeonggi-do, Gyeongsangnam-do, and Jeju-do.
The geological makeup of Chungcheongnam-do is composed primarily of granites and metamorphic formations. The Nampo Supergroup in Boryeong includes coal deposits, but these are no longer being mined. The former coal mine in Boryeong has been converted into the Boryeong Coal Museum. The central and southeastern regions of Chungcheongnam-do are mountainous. Peaks of the central region include Mt. Seonggeo (570m), Mt. Seongju (680m), Mt. Gaya (678m), and the region’s highest peak of Mt. Oseo (791m), while the southeastern region includes Mt. Seodae (904m), Mt. Daedun (878m), and Mt. Gyeryong (833m). Among these, Mt. Gaya in Cheongyang and Mt. Gyeryong in Daejeon enjoy national renown. Mt. Gyeryong in particular was until the 1960s a center of shamanism. Sindoan in Gyeryong city at the foot of Mt. Gyeryong was originally chosen as the site for the new capital of the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910) before this was changed to Seoul. Today it is home to Supreme Command, the headquarters of the South Korean army.
The southeastern portion of Chungcheongnam-do is the basin of the Geum River. The upper portion, where one finds Asan, Yesan, and Hongseong, are situated in the basin of the Gokgyo, Muhan, and Sapgyo Rivers which empty into Asan Bay, while Seosan, Taean, Dangjin, and Boryeong are situated along smaller rivers that flow towards the West Sea (Yellow Sea). The Because the province’s Taean Peninsula projects into the sea, the coastline extending from its northern tip and along neighboring Anmyeon Island is sandy and famous for its many swimming beaches, such as Sinduri, Mallipo, Mongsanpo, Kkotji, and Baramarae. Sinduri in particular is noted not only for its sand beaches but for its many inland sand dunes. Because the coastline here is meandering and the surf mild, land reclamation work has long been underway in the area. In Sapgyo, Daeho, Seokmun, and Seosan seawalls are being erected and through land filling large-scale reclamation land is created, thus gradually enlarging the coast. The average mean temperature for the province is 12˚C (53.6˚F), with the average August temperature at 25˚C (77˚F) and the average January temperature a relatively mild -3˚C (26.6˚F) or higher, all together about the typical climate for the central region of the peninsula.The percentage of forested land in Chungcheongnam-do is as low as 50 percent, with just over 30 percent of the land harvested (of this, 21.1 percent paddy field, and 9.4 percent dry field). Areas on the lower reaches of the Geum River, such as Nonsan and Buyeo, and areas with wide swathes of reclaimed land, such as Dangjin, Asan, Seosan, Seocheon, are largely dedicated to rice cultivation. Seosan and Taean in particular are renowned for their upland cultivation of garlic, chili peppers, ginger. The province’s fisheries are usually small, although coastal Anheung, Ocheon, and Guneup do have large fishing ports. Catches are not typically large but they are rich in terms of species and seasonal fresh seafood is available throughout the year, the primary catches being anchovy, blackmouth angler, shrimp, cuttlefish, crab, oysters, and clams. The shrimp of Hongseong and Gwangcheon and the salted fish of Nonsan enjoy nationwide distribution.
As of 2014, Chungcheongnam-do had 8 designated cities (Cheonan, Gongju, Boryeong, Asan, Seosan, Nonsan, Gyeryong, and Dangjin) and 7 counties (Geumsan, Buyeo, Seocheon, Cheongyang, Hongseong, Yesan, Taean). Among these administrative units, the most populous is Cheonan city (590,000), followed by Asan city (290,000). The rest of the cities have populations between 104–166,000, with the exception of Gyeryong (41,000). Sitting along the Gyeongbu (Seoul-Busan) Expressway, the Gyeongbu Railway (Honam Line) and the route of the high-speed KTX, the city of Cheonan has long been a major transportation hub. Among the province’s counties, the most populous is Hongseong with a population of 89,000, while the least populous is Cheongyang (32,000).
The cities of Buyeo and Gongju in Chunghceongnam-do are representative of Baekje culture and as such are home to the Buyeo and Gongju National Museums. Buyeo’s Mt. Buso, Nakhwaam Rock, Gungnamji Pond, and Baekje royal tombs, and Gongju’s Gongsanseong Fortress and Tomb of King Muryeong draw many tourists. Gongju is also famed as the hometown of pro golfer Pak Se-ri and pro baseball player Park Chan Ho and one can see sculptures related to these figures around town. In addition, Chungcheongnam-do has many other sites to visit and local specialties to taste, from Mt. Gyeryong (Donghak Temple, Gap Temple) and Taeanhaean National Park to Mt. Daedun and Mt. Deok and Mt. Chilgap Provincial Parks. Locales like Onyang, Dogo, Yuseong, and Mt. Deok also enjoy established renown as hot springs and resorts. In the summer season large and small beaches along the province’s coast open up. Particularly popular among international visitors is the Daecheon Beach Mud Festival.