In Deoksan Hyeonjo of Dongguk Yeoji Seungnam (Augmented Survey of the Geography of Korea), it reads, “Oncheonjaehyeon Namo-ri (溫泉在縣 南五里),” and in Chungcheong-do Deoksan Hyeonjo of Sejong Sillok Jiriji (Geography Section of the Annals of King Sejong), it reads, “Oncheonjaehyeon Namsan-ri (溫泉在縣 南三里),” based on which it is deemed that the existence of hot springs in this area has been known for at least 500 to 600 years. Also, according to Chungbo written by Yi Yul-gok, a prominent Confucian scholar in the Joseon dynasty, “A crane stood in the middle of the rice paddy here instead of flying away, and thus the local residents approached the bird for a closer examination, which revealed that it had sustained injuries to its wing and leg and was applying the water from the rice paddy to its wounds.
After doing so for three days, the crane recovered from its injuries and flew away. Thinking this was strange, the villagers took a closer look at where the crane stood and saw warm and smooth water springing from the ground. Afterwards, they began using this place as a spring, and because the water miraculously healed skin disease, neuralgia and so on, the village was named Oncheon-gol (Hot Spring Village).” As such, the book written by Yi explains the origins of Deoksan Hot Springs as such.
But there is another legend associated with the area: “Long, long ago, there lived a hard-working farmer in Sadong-ri, Deoksan. When he was young, he suffered from poverty, as he was raised by a single mother, but after coming of age, he lived diligently, serving his mother as a good son and taking good care of his own children, and he was relatively well off.
“However, he experienced extreme hardship due to 2 to 3 years of bad harvest. He went out every day with a hoe in hand, but his rice plants kept becoming dry. While looking at the withering rice plants, he noticed that there was one spot where there was lush vegetation.
So he went out to the pasture which he had been planning to cultivate for quite some time. Then, into the area with fresh, green grass, he dug his hoe with all his strength. As he dug, he began to see water. Surprisingly, it was warm. The heavens did not turn a blind eye to the diligent, good man. The farmer lived in prosperity, as the owner of the hot spring.
Deoksan Spa was opened in 1917 by a Japanese man named An Jeong (安井). It is a natural sodium bicarbonate hot spring that contains germanium, which has been dubbed the “Miraculous Therapeutic Agent,’ and it is known to be effective against muscle pain, arthritis and neuralgia, while promoting vascular circulation, subcutaneous fat removal and cell regeneration. The hot spring district with 7 spas is perhaps the most popular tourist area in Yesan, attracting more than 2.5 million visitors each year, and there are more than 50 different accommodations including 2 tourist hotels, and 1 regular hotel.