The 1,420-meter long, 55-meter wide Tongyeong Canal flows along the southern area of Tongyeong peninsula, with Mireukdo to one side. This canal is quite popular because of the Orient’s largest underwater tunnel located under it.
It is said that during the Battle of Hansan (Japanese Invasion of Joseon in 1592), as the canal became shallower during low tide and Japanese soldiers saw the soft clay, they decided to enlarge the waterway for retreat. This work caused the canal to be called Pandemok, meaning “dug waterway” and Sonjangmok, meaning “dying people” as a number of Japanese soldiers was attacked by the naval forces led by Admiral Yi Sun-shin and lost their life for all their efforts.
It is a historic irony that the waterway made by Japanese forces was again expanded and reopened as a canal by Imperialist Japan in the 20th century.
After five and one half year’s of work, the Canal was opened along with the Orient’s first Chungmu Underwater Tunnel. Tongyeong Canal was originally named “Dicohori” after the official name of Doyotomi Hideyoshi, the organizer of Imjin War. Before the canal’s construction, an arching stone bridge was used to transport people and products across the canal.
It is interesting to see the Underwater Tunnel for pedestrians, the bridge above for automobiles, and the canal that allows vessels to pass regardless of the tide. This 3-way overlapping traffic is unique in Korea.
The grand arching Tongyeong Bridge dividing the Canal adds to the scenic beauty of the area during the day and at night is ablaze in light from the colorful lamps reflecting off the water.