Dark Sky Park
Yeongyang, South Korea
Yeongyang Firefly Eco Park is situated in Yeongyang County, an administrative region of North Gyeongsang Province in extreme eastern South Korea. Nestled in the valley of the Wangpi River, the Park is surrounded by geographically typical mountainous terrain that makes the land difficult to farm. As a result, the county is one of the least populous in a country that otherwise experiences one of the highest population densities in the world. Yet as isolated as the Park is, it is only a 4.5-hour drive from the capital, Seoul, and is readily accessible to South Korea’s 50 million residents.
The Park, established within the Wangpi River Basin Ecological Landscape Protected Zone, has been under legal protections since 2005. The site is significant for the conservation of fireflies, which are known to benefit from conditions of natural darkness. To this end, the Park has developed a management plan for its natural darkness in support of the local firefly population; visitors come to the site expecting low ambient light levels. In recent years, South Korean amateur astronomers have taken note of the site and flock there with increasing frequency to experience dark skies without having to travel especially far from home.
“Bright times for dark skies” (Financial Times, 12 August 2016)