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Situated on the coast of Gyeongsangnam-do, Tongyeong is a gorgeous seaside city in the middle of Hallyeo National Maritime Park. It covers the southern part of the Goseong peninsula and includes 151 islands (only 43 of which are inhabited). Gwang-do and Dosan are to the north, while the west faces Namhae.

With warm currents from the East Sea, Tongyeong has been an ideal fishing location. In addition to having warmer weather, the area is one of the rainiest in the country. Because of its seaside location, its picturesque attributes also bring more typhoon dangers. Fishing, oyster farming, and other food processing are the city's major industries.

When Japan invaded Korea in 1592, the naval fleet, commanded by Admiral Yi Sun-shin (sometimes spelled Lee Sun-shin), defeated the invading navy. The following year, King Sunjo appointed Admiral Yi as chief commander of the naval forces of the three provinces (a position created just for him). Naval forces were moved soon afterward in 1604. In mid-August of every year, there is a Battle of Hansan Festival (Hansandae Festival), in honor of Admiral Yi's victory. Other than the re-creation of the battle, any other smaller festivals and events happen simultaneously and it's well worth a visit.

After the Japanese Imperial period, the city was the center of marine traffic to Masan, Busan, Samcheonpo, Yeosu, Mokpo, and trade with Japan and China. Now that the Namhae Expressway has been built, Tongyeong has seen less marine traffic, but still has one of the most beautiful harbors in the country.

In the spring or fall, the city comes alive with the Tongyeong International Music Festival (www.timf.org), a classical music event created in honor of native son and composer Yun Isang. The dates aren't consistent every year, so check the schedule before making a special trip.

Exploring Tongyeong's best sites, the outlying islands, requires at least an overnight stay to catch the early-morning ferries out and back.