If you have not already figured it out I am trying to catch up on blogs. During the weekdays I am pretty busy and often do not have time to blog. So right now I am going to write about our trip last weekend to Gunsan, 군산.
Gunsan, located in North Jeolla-do Province, is known for its history with the Japanese in the late 19th century. In general the land on the western side of Korea by the ocean is known for its fertile land, and thus good rice. From the late 1800s to 1945 when Korea was liberated from Japan, Japan shipped out Gunsan’s rice and Japanese officials lived there on the coast. Because of this, Gunsan developed sooner than other areas in Korea and is left with buildings traditional to Japanese architecture. However, the Koreans also suffered because of the Japanese colonization and, as we learned on our museum tour, lived a comparatively much poorer life.
During the war, Gunsan was left rather untouched, despite it being an international port. This is because the communist north was gunning towards Busan (the opposite side of the country) to reach the South Korean and UN forces.
Now Gunsan has developed into a high tech manufacturing city and holds one of the USAF bases.
With CLS we went to the Modern History and Art Museum as well as a Navy type museum, but I forgot to write down the names of the museums. The tours were done completely in Korean which made it hard to understand everything, especially when talking about colonization. At least I was able to understand a good chunk, and definitely the basics, but I got in trouble when I was trying to explain in English what a sign said in Korean to another CLS student. Some of the students are just learning Korean, so in these cases I think the language policy can be a little strict. In these cases you might then leave with less knowledge about that historical aspect. But then again the language policy is what makes us really learn Korean…
After we went to the museum we went and got lunch at a buffet called “Ashley’s” which is actually like an American Korean fusion…. so pizza but with Korean garlic sauce or chicken but with spicy sauce or ddeokbokki with carbonara and bacon. They also had cream cheese ice cream with green tea sprinkles. Definitely not the healthiest meal, but it was delicious.
Then we got back in our bus and went to the Saemangeum Seawall (새만금), which is a tidal flat on the Yellow Sea. I was expecting it to be a pretty beach with a view of the tiny islands that dot the Korean coast. However, I was slightly disappointed because the land to the water was blocked off to the public and there was trash everywhere. It turns out this wall is actually similar to a giant dam that the Korean government built. Regardless we had fun, and pictures were taken.
That night we then drove to Jeonju and went to the Nambu Yashijang night market (남부시장), which will be the topic of my next blog post soon to follow.