When the Sea Parts in South Korea

by Kids Discover


In the Bible, the Red Sea parts to let Moses and the Israelites escape the Egyptian Army. Then its waters close up and swallow the pursuers. A natural phenomenon in South Korea shows how the first part of that story might have happened — not once, but a few times a year.

The Jindo Sea-Parting Festival is such a big deal that hundreds of thousands of tourists visit to witness it each year around late April.

South Korea’s Jindo County is an archipelago (a collection of islands) in the Jindo Sea. The biggest of these islands is also called Jindo (which is also the name of Korea’s primary breed of dog, but that’s not really relevant here).

Periodically, a path appears that connects Jindo to the smaller island of Modo, which lies almost two miles away! According to a local legend, the ocean god provided this pathway to let an old woman rejoin friends and family who had abandoned her while fleeing to Modo to escape rampant tigers on Jindo.

Scientists have another explanation: tidal harmonics. Tides (the fluctuating heights and surges of water in large bodies such as oceans, seas, and even large lakes) are caused by a variety of factors, such as the rotation of the Earth and its relation to the sun and moon. Tides typically move in fairly consistent rhythms and ranges, but when most or all of the various tidal factors sync up at once, as they do infrequently, very high or low tides can result.

So it’s not that the Jindo Sea parts — it’s that the sea level drops and reveals a piece of the sea floor that’s about 130-200 feet wide. Exposed for about an hour, this path lets visitors stroll between Jindo and Modo as locals harvest exposed clams and seaweed.

Even though the waters part two or three times between March and June, people come from near and far to enjoy the one-day festival.

Some people may even come from as far away as Egypt!


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