This past weekend on Saturday I went with my host family to Yeosu (여수) which is a coastal city on the very Southern end of the Korea. It was a gorgeous day, but as Korea summers are, it was also incredibly hot. That Saturday was South Korea’s 20th day of heat warnings in a row. While in 여수 we took the cable car, ate 게장 (raw crabs marinated in various sauces), went to a buddhist temple on a mountain, and did a night tour on a boat.
Here are some photos from the cable car we took. My host sisters found it so 신기해 (interesting) that I take these cable cars to go skiing. If you look at the last photo of the bottom bunch there are train tracks that lead into the water. They are used to roll out boats and submarines.
I realized I need to work on my Korean that describes how amazing a view is. I can express “woah, this is so beautiful that words cannot describe” (아름답기를 이를 데 없어!) but I would like to know more diverse words for expressing emotions about 풍경s (views).
When we got to the other side we took a family photo. There were so many couples with selfie sticks EVERYWHERE that not a single photo had just us in it. Pretty funny to look back at though.
We also took some photos at this little pagoda that overlooked the view in the above photo. We were all sitting on the edges and suddenly my host father popped out this really intense tripod. It even had a remote control. He carried this all day and only used it once for this photo? I couldn’t take him seriously with the tripod, the camo shorts, the big gold watch and shiny sunglasses and then crocs. He’s a funny guy.
Then we went to lunch at famous restaurant in 여수 which is called 황소식당 to get 게장 (which is whole raw crab that is marinated in various sauces). We ordered one that was marinated in 된장 (a soybean type sauce) and another one marinated in a spicy sauce. It also came with a done of delicious side dishes and rice. To eat it you just bite and suck out the meat. With the shell of the body you stuff it with rice and move the rice around so it gets all the remaining meat and juice. It’s a messy process and harder to eat than lobster in my opinion.
So add raw crab meat to my list of interesting foods I have tried this summer. Also we waited in line for about one hour to eat here. Normally with a first and fourth grader in tow you cannot do this, but the crabs are worth the wait.
After lunch we headed to 향일암 which is a buddhist temple hidden away at the top of a mountain by the coast. There were quite a lot of tourists, and we even met some tourists from China. I wonder if those who actually were there to practice buddhism get annoyed by it.
There were about 500 steps that we went up to get to the temple. I went ahead and was surprised to find the S had followed behind me. So the two of us went ahead of everyone and I tried to understand the mind of a Korean first grader. She sure has a lot to say.
If S goes to NH I would transform her into a hiker fanatic. After she basically ran after me up the steps at my pace I can tell that she too could fall in love with the mountains like I have.
Also on the way up we walked through various rock tunnels and passages. This one featured in the photo below is said to give you good luck for the rest of the year. My host mom was very insistent on getting the other tourists out of the way so we could take these photos.
Then after the temple visit we visited this area where all these 아줌마s were making and selling various types of seafood and kimchi. I am not quite sure how they don’t go bad in the heat of the Korean summer… they sure were very pungent.
Then as we drove for dinner we passed by a museum that held a North Korean submarine. I saw the sign for it and asked if we could stop to see it. My host dad and I were excited to see this submarine, but had to convince my host sisters and mom to come join us.
Here’s a little bit of background on the incident surrounding the submarine.
- At 11:15 on December 17, 1998 two South Korean soldiers noticed an unidentified object moving in the water. They were quickly able to tell that it was a semi-submarine because of its protruding antenna-like object and two covers.
- Upon analysis of the submarine’s fuel canister the South realized that this submarine could not have come from a North Korean port all by itself. This means that a larger North Korean vessel would have transported the submarine to the southern coast.
- The museum we went to had a plaque which reads “The motivation for this blatant incursion onto South Korean soil was 1) to take sleepers back. 2) to land armed agents in the South, and 3) to install debouches.”
- Fifteen minutes after the discovery, South Korean officials sent a navy patrol to search the area but the North Korean vessel fled the scene. Briefly, the North Korean submarine was trying to flee to international waters. However, before it was able to do so South Korean naval radar spotted them and shot warning shots and order them to stop fleeing. Instead the North Korean vessel returned fire with machine guns and showed no intention to surrender.
- After continuous fire back and forth the vessel sunk at 6:50 am, almost 8 hours after its initial discovery.
- Upon recovery of the sunken submarine four months later the South discovered the corpse of a North Korean frogman, aka a combat diver heavily trained in underwater swimming and military fighting.
There was also an exhibit on the Korean War and other incidents since such as the 1987 Korean Air Flight 858 incident. On this flight North Korean agents placed a bomb in the overhead storage of a plane headed from Seoul to Baghdad. All 104 passengers and 11 crew members died.
There was also an exhibit on the 1976 DMZ axe incident where two U.S. soldiers were murdered by North Koreans at the Joint Security Area (JSA) when they tried to trim a tree that blocked UN observer’s views. The North Koreans claimed this tree was planted by Kim Il-Sung. Before this incident North and South Korean soldiers, and US soldiers, were able to walk around the majority of the JSA. However, following this incident the JSA area was also divided down the middle.
I actually went to the JSA two years ago and learned about this story from some U.S. and South Korean soldiers. If you’re interested in more details try looking up The Poplar Tree Incident.
And then finally we went on our night time tour of 여수 by boat. We ran out of time to get a proper dinner so we quickly went to then 편의점 (convenience store) and got ramen before boarding.
By the time we got home it was about 11:30pm so we spent Sunday sleeping in and then going to see 택시운전사, a movie about the Gwangju Democracy Movement, all together. Overall I made a ton of wonderful memories with my host family this past weekend and felt that we got a lot closer, which is sad because I am about to leave for the U.S. I am so appreciative of everything they have done for me!
Catch you on the next post…