For years, the crystalline blue water and soft sand of South Korea's Sacheonjin beach has been favored by surfers and vacationers seeking a quieter experience than more crowded options on the east coast.

But Choi Jong-min, who runs a guest house Sacheonjin, was shocked when high waves washed away major portions of the beach this year, including during a typhoon in August.

"The waters have never been this close and the waves never so high for the past 12 years," Choi said at his guest house, looking out the window. "This place was famous for calm waves, but look, they're widely breaking now."