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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Bold and Beautiful Baekje, Part IV: Royal Tombs of Baekje Kingdom, Seoul Songpa-gu


It is presumed that the ancient royal tombs in Bangi-dong, Seoul Songpa-gu were built when the people of the Baekje Kingdom (one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea) settled in the capital around the Han River area during the period 18 BCE – 475 CE. There are 8 tombs altogether. They were first excavated in 1971 and later became a park during the restoration which started in 1983 and was completed in 1988. Only a few artifacts from the tombs remained as the rest had been stolen, but the tombs themselves were preserved well, and the structure is still apparent. These tumuli are stone cave tombs with an entrance channel and a broad interior chamber. Their exterior is a round earth mound.

These ancient tombs are not only an important historical site but are situated within Gobun Park. The paths between the ancient tombs are for the observation of the tombs and also for quiet strolling. There are resting areas around the tombs. Visitors can appreciate the peaceful atmosphere of the tumuli in harmony with nature.

The tumuli of Bangi-dong are stone cave tombs. They were constructed with a stone-walled chamber in which the body was placed. A passageway connects the tomb with the outside. They were covered by a circular mound on top. This style of tomb construction is considered to be the Baekje people's. Because it is built in the same style as other tombs of the later Baekje period, it is thought they were built after the Baekje had moved their capital from Seoul to Gongju, Southern Chungcheong Province (that time it was known as Woongjin). Furthermore, the style of Baekje's stone cave tomb is very similar to that of the stone chamber tombs found in the northern Kyushu region in Japan, strongly suggesting that the style of the Baekje tomb was transmitted to Japan.

Currently the tomb No.1 is the only tomb visitors can enter among the Bangi-dong tombs. The artifacts dug out from tomb No. 6 are of a very different style from the artifacts of the other Bangi-dong tombs. They show the typical style of Silla (one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea). It is presumed that the tomb No. 6 might have been built by the Silla people when they occupied Seoul during the mid 6th Century.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Bold and Beautiful Baekje, Part III: Mongchon Toseong, Seoul Songpa-gu


Mongchontoseong (Hanja: 夢村土城) is the remains of some earthen fortifications from the Baekje Kingdom period (18 BCE – 660 CE). It is considered to be a historically important Baekje site along with the nearby site of Pungnaptoseong (Earthen Fortress). The excavation was started prior to the construction of the Olympic Park in 1984. The earthen fortifications were restored through six excavations. Today, Mongchontoseong is located inside the Olympic Park (Specific Location: Oryun-dong 88-3 beonji, Seoul Songpa-gu) and is a very popular place, providing Seoul citizens with areas for relaxation and peaceful promenades. 

The excavation of Mongchontoseong started in 1983 prior to the construction of the Olympic Park. Since then a total of six excavations were undertaken up to 1989 when the construction of the Olympic Park was completed. Since the excavation of Pungnaptoseong was added, Mongchontoseong has become even more actively used for the study of the Baekje Kingdom.

Mongchontoseong is one of the best examples of earthen fortifications from the early Baekje Kingdom period. Wooden barricades were built on the site to provide added defense. It is strongly suggested that nearby Pungnaptoseong was the king's castle known as Wiryeseong, and Mongchontoseong was an auxiliary castle. The fortification was in use until Baekje moved its capital in response to Goguryeo attacks. After the attacks, the fortification site became Goguryeo territory. It is presumed that the fortifications were out of use from 475. The Three Kingdoms Period refers to the time when there were three ancient kingdoms in Korea: Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla.

The Olympic Park was created with no boundary between the fortifications and the park, and so Mongchontoseong has been providing a welcome green space to relax and unwind for tourists and residents alike. A massive juniper tree stands alone on the wide green field of grass; hence the tree is known as “single tree”. Amid the lush green of the field, the still deeper green of the tree represents a famous image of Mongchontoseong. In the spring, oilseed rape flowers create beautiful scenery. The color contrast between the huge green expanse and the yellow flowers makes for another enjoyable experience when visiting Monchontoseong.

The Mongchontoseong promenade extends along the long fortified wall. As you walk along, the scenery changes constantly. The walk along the wall takes you to various points of interest, such as Seongnaecheon (Stream) and the defensive wooden barricade etc. It is also very interesting to see how the scenery changes with the seasons.

Mongchon Museum of History is situated close to Mongchontoseong. The museum displays artifacts from the excavation of the earthen fortifications as well as other artifacts of the Baekje period, giving a glimpse of Baekje culture. A model of a Baekje dugout hut site reveals ancient dwelling patterns.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Bold and Beautiful Baekje, Part II: Hanseong-Baekje Museum, Seoul Songpa-gu


Seoul or also known as Hanseong in Baekje Period (18 BCE ~ 660 CE) was the capital city for 493 years, of a total of 678 years of Baekje History. Therefore, there are essential Hanseong-Baekje era ruins such as Pungnap Fortress, Mongchon Fortress and Seokchon-dong Tomb Complex, where tens of thousands of relics were excavated. Seoul Metropolitan Government was responsible for the construction plan of Hanseong Baekje Museum (Hanja: 漢城百濟博物館) to systemically preserve those relics and review the 2000-year history of Seoul while establishing its cultural identity. The Hanseong Baekje Museum, established on a site overlooking the Mongchon Fortress in the Olympic Park, Seoul Songpa-gu - opened its door to the public in April 2012.

The Hanseong Baekje Museum will take an essential role in the historical research of the Hanseong Baekje era and span a bridge over the 2000-year-long history of Seoul. It will allow visitors to enjoy the rich culture and give Seoulites a sense of pride about their own history. Furthermore it is expected to attract foreign tourists up to 12 millions. The Hanseong Baekje Museum will enrich Seoul Special City, where traditions and the present co-exist harmonically.

Seoul has a long and rich history and was the capital of the Baekje Dynasty for about 500 years (18 BC ~ 475 CE). Many large settlements were already established in the Neolithic Age and their traces still can be found in the numerous areas including Amsa-dong prehistoric settlement, Pungnap Fortress, Mongchon Fortress and Seokchon tomb complex. Since ancient times the Han River, traversing Seoul City, has been an essential transport route and helped to create fertile farmlands along its surroundings. With those merits, Seoul was the industrial hub that has been the stage for several wars during the Three Kingdom period (Baekje, Silla and Goguryeo). This was proved by various excavated relics scattered around Seoul area.

In recent years, tens of thousands of Baekje-era relics were excavated from the Poongnap Fortress telling the hidden historic stories beneath them. However, it was still in the poor condition to manage and utilize these relics as the educational materials. Besides, we are advised to strive harder for cherishing the prehistoric remains and making the best use of them. Seoul Metropolitan Government established the Hanseong Baekje Museum, which will efficiently manage the valuable relics and induce many visitors as well. Following this agenda, the Hanseong Baekje Museum will lead the diverse researches on the buried relics around Seoul area and manage the existing excavated ones in a systematic way.

Furthermore, by developing the prehistoric relic trails in connection with the other tourist spots, the Hanseong Baekje Museum will invigorate its functional purpose and quench citizens’ thirst for the historic culture.

Bold and Beautiful Baekje, Part I: Pungnap Toseong, Pungnap-dong, Seoul Songpa-gu


Pungnap-toseong (Hanja: 風納土城) are earthen ramparts from the Baekje era (18 BCE-660 CE). The ramparts were originally very large scale, measuring 3.5 kilometers in circumference, but now only 2.7 kilometers remain, since some of the sections were swept away by a heavy flood in 1925. After valuable artifacts were unearthed during the redevelopment of the area in 1997, the ramparts were recognized as a site of historic value for the further study of ancient history, and research began once again into Pungnap-toseong. The ramparts’ official name is the “Earthen Fortification in Pungnap-ri, Gwangju”, and they are designated as Historic Site No. 11 (present location: Baramdeuri 15-gil, Pungnap-dong 72-1 beonji, Seoul Songpa-gu).

Baekje was one of the ancient Three Kingdoms of Korea, together with Goguryeo and Silla. It was founded around Wiryeseong (the capital during the early Baekje period, now present-day Hanam, Gyeonggi Province) on the Lower Han River. Although the exact borders of Baekje remain unknown, a number of historic sites show traces of the Baekje era. These include Pungnap-toseong, Mongchon-toseong (a site of earthen fortification from the Baekje era situated in Olympic Park), Tumuli from the Baekje era in Bangi-dong (tombs from the early Baekje period) and Early Baekje Stone Mound Tomb in Seokchon-dong (a form of ancient tombs made by heaping up stones). Pungnap-toseong faces the Hangang in the west and leads the way to Mongchon-toseong in the south.

Pungnap-toseong was built by banking up earth, and was called the “Earthen Fortification in Pungnap-ri, Gwangju” as it was situated in Gwangju City, Gyeonggi Province; however it has been commonly known as Pungnap-toseong since it was incorporated into Seoul. Pungnap-toseong was excavated in earnest from 1997 when a great volume of remains and artifacts from the Baekje era were unearthed during the reconstruction of apartments. The construction work was temporarily suspended and excavations at the site were conducted, resulting in what stands here today.

This occasion was not the first time Pungnap-toseong had been discovered. In 1925, during the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945), a heavy flood caused the west side of the wall to collapse, unearthing a number of artifacts and exposing the interior. After Korea regained independence from Japanese occupation, the ramparts were designated as Historic Site No. 11. In 1966, the Department of Archeology at Seoul National University conducted excavation and research and confirmed that the ramparts date back to an era between prehistoric times and the Three Kingdoms period (the ancient Korean kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla, which dominated the Korean peninsula and parts of Manchuria from the fourth century to the mid-seventh century).

Taking into account the likely time of its construction, its geographical situation along the river and the ancient tombs and mountain fortress located nearby, Pungnap-toseong bears comparison with other ancient fortresses around the same period, such as Nangnangtoseong (낙랑토성 or 락랑토성 in North Korean Dialect/earthen ramparts situated in Daedong County, Southern Pyeongan Province, DPRK) and Gungnae-seong of Goguryeo (37 BCE-668 CE). Considering the size of the population, the social and power structures in those times, and the fact that the large-scale ramparts were built around the third century, all this enhances still further the possibility that Pungnap-toseong was a fortress for the capital in the early period of the Baekje Kingdom.

In actual fact, for the casual visitor Pungnap-toseong simply appears to be a long embankment that forms a broad sweep around an apartment village and shopping district. For those who are unaware of the existence of the ramparts, it can look like a broad field of grass at first, until they have been pointed out and identified. The circumference of the ramparts reaches around 3.5 kilometers, forming an oval about two kilometers from north to south and one kilometer from east to west. Since a considerable portion of the west-side wall was swept away by a heavy flood in 1925, sections of about 2.7 kilometers of the ramparts remain today.

Investigation into a cross section of the east side indicates that the ramparts were constructed by banking up thin sand without stones. A large number of both earthenware and ironware from the Baekje era have been excavated from the ramparts. In addition, giwa (roof tiles), wadang (giwa with rounded edges), earthenware inscribed with scripts, and items of Chinese pottery have also been excavated, showing the important status of this great fortress. Pungnap-toseong was a fortress of Baekje’s capital from its construction around the third century until its fall to King Jangsu in 475 (the 20th king of Goguryeo, who reigned from 413 to 491). The remains and artifacts excavated provide clues to Baekje as a fully-fledged kingdom, the lifestyle of the time and the level of technical expertise.

Nearby Mongchon-toseong provides important insights into the traces of earthen fortifications in the early Baekje era, and is considered significant Baekje remains, along with Pungnap-toseong. In 1984, with the foundation of the Olympic Park ahead, Mongchon-toseong was restored after conducting six excavations. It is now situated within the Olympic Park, providing the public with a place to relax and walking trails.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Guri Tower: Trademark of Guri City, Gyeonggi Province


Guri Tower (Hanja: 九里타워) is a 100 meter tower located at 49 Wangsuk Stream Avenue (Wangsukcheonno/왕숙천로), Topyeong-dong 9-1 beonji, Guri City, Gyeonggi Province. There is a restaurant and an observatory on the upper level, from whence one looks directly onto Guri Sports Center, and has a panoramic view of the surrounding hills, streams, and apartments. This tower and its vicinity is the filming location for Kim Hae-gon's film entitled 'Fate' (숙명/宿命/Sungmyeong). 

Guri Resource Collection Facility with Guri Tower is known as a successful case of overcoming collectivism and id visited by more than 80,000 government officials, office workers, and civilians from around the world. The chimneys of the incinerators have been converted into Korea's first observation deck and restaurant 100m above ground. There also are indoor pools, sauna, soccer field, and Futsal (mini soccer) field to accommodate the people of Guri for leisure activities.

The scene where Woo-min gets a goal during a football match and Cheol-jung shouts and hugs Woo-min was filmed at a community sports facility in Guri. In this particular scene, four friends—Woo-min, Cheol-jung, Yeong-hwan, and Do-wan—demonstrate strong friendship and happiness. This is a community sports facility located in Topyeong-dong, Guri City, near Guri Tower, which is a Guri City landmark. The facility has a soccer field, gate-ball field, and swimming pool, yet there is no football field, so the soccer field was used for the football scene, which was covered with artificial grass for the shoot. Guri Tower, which is located beside the sports facility, has a restaurant and observatory. It presents a lively sight every night with its colorful lighting.

Recommended by Blogmaster: What happened if your best friend BETRAYS you?

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Moe-Korea's Dev Log, Part IV: Moe-Hangul 101 (Jeonpyeon)

We are reaching 120+ posts for the Moe Korean Tour and there are many moe girls' names that are been Hangul-ifized from the original Japanese names. The Hangulifized Japanese Moe Girls names are transliterated from the Common Hangulization Japanese Words but I hate to utilize the Hangulifized Japanese Word Transliteration which is provided by National Institute of Korean Language (NIKL/국립국어원).  In commemoration of 567th Hangul Promulgation Anniversary, I will present a thesis entitled "Hangulification of Moe Girls' Names".

Before we start this communion, these are the basic Hangul characters that you must to remember:
It looks like a chemical periodic table but you can memorize these Hangul alphabets in a nick of time.
There are some laws on naming their names by using Hangul. For example:

1. Tsu 'つ' into Cheu '츠':
Anything that using the kana 'tsu' will be renderized to '츠' in hangul. For your information, based on National Institute of Korean Language (NIKL/국립국어원), this kana is renderized to '쓰/Sseu'.
Examplis Gratia: Akechi Mitsuhide (아케치 미쓰히데 versus 아케치 미츠히데). The first pronunciation is quite a little rough but for the second pronunciation, it seems to be more cuter.

2. Small tsu ''  into Jongseong-siot '종성 시옷':
Some names has a double consonant on it. Siot on the bottom will pronounce as 't'. 
Examplis Gratia: Takanashi Rikka (타카나시 릿카)

3. Application of Beginning Sound Rule (두음법칙) on Japanese names:
Koreans tend to use them when Jongseong-rieul '종성 리을' combines with Chosong-nieun '초성 니은' and vice versa.
Examplis Gratia: Kuonji Shinra (쿠온지 신라) - Shinra is pronunced as Shilla, one of the Kingdoms during Three-Kingdoms Period.

4. Fu 'ふ' into Hu '후':
It is impossible to renderize the kana 'fu' into pu '푸' or bu '부' because of Hangul-Kana syllable conflicts. Hu '후' is used based on the kana arrangement of ha-hi-fu-he-ho.
Examplis Gratia: Furukawa Nagisa (후루카와 나기사) and Shiina Mafuyu (시이나 마후유)

5. Jo '조' versus Jyo '죠' in the renderization (ぞ versus じょ in kana syllable):
Another confusion for the Koreans is to differentiate Jo '조' versus 'Jyo' 죠 in kana renderization to Hangul.
Examplis Gratia: Hattori Hanzou (핫토리 한조) versus Kujou Tsukiyo (쿠죠 츠키요).

6. Su 'す' into Seu '스':
Anything that using the kana 'su' will be renderized to '스' in Hangul. It is impossible for this Kana if it renderizes to su/soo '수'.
Examplis Gratia: Isuzu Hana (이스즈 하나)

7. Zu or Dzu 'ず/づ' into Jeu '즈':
This disambiguated kana with the same pronunciation is renderized to '즈' in Hangul. It is impossible for both Kana syllables if it renderizes to ju/joo '주'.
Examplis Gratia: Suzumiya Haruhi (스즈미야 하루히)


(to be continued... to the next part)


Hansan Island, TongYeong, Southern Gyeongsang: Tribute to Admiral Yi Sunshin

Mai Asagiri recites a sijo (Korean Poem) written by Admiral Yi Sunshin. It looks like that admiral was a poetic person.
Hansan Island (Hanja: 閑山島), located in the middle of Hallyeo-Haesang National Park (Specific Location: Hansan-myeon, TongYeong City, Southern Gyeongsang Province), is an important historical site. This is where Admiral Yi Sunshin (Born: 1545 - Killed in Action: 1598 - Final Battle of Noryang Point) won his great victory using the "Turtle Boat a.k.a Geobukseon" (an ironclad warship shaped as a tortoise) by commanding the naval forces of Chungcheong, Jeolla and Gyeongsang Provinces at the beginning of the Japanese Imjin Invasion of Korea (1592-1598). 

The area around the island was the site of a Battle of Hansan Island during the Imjin Wars where Admiral Yi Sunshin decisively defeated the main Japanese war fleet led by Wakizaka Yasuharu. Following the battle, Admiral Yi moved his main naval base from Yeosu, Southern Jeolla to Hansan Island, as it was strategically advantageous for conducting surveillance and reconnaissance of the nearby Gyeonnaeryang Strait (견내량해협, 見乃梁海峽), which was an inland route leading directly to the main Japanese base located at Busan.

After King Seonjo ordered Admiral Yi Sunshin's arrest, imprisonment, and torture - Admiral Won Gyun was assigned to lead the Korean navy during the Naval Battle of Chilcheollyang Strait. However, Won Gyun attacked the Japanese base at Busan, ignoring the tides, and was forced to retreat owing to shelling from the shore. The Japanese navy pursued him relentlessly and sank all but thirteen of the Panokseon in the process. Won Gyun together with Admiral Yi Eok-gi was killed during this disastrous retreat, Hansan Island and its evacuated naval base, was exposed to the Japanese forces, who eventually burned it down. The Naval Battle of Chilcheollyang Strait was the first and most disastrous defeat for Joseon Navy.

After the war, Joseon naval base was reconstructed, Yi was rehabilitated, and went on to defeat he Japanese with the remaining 13 Panokseons from Chilcheollyang Strait which were brought by Commander Bae Seol during the Naval Battle of Myeongnyang Strait.

'Those willing to die will live, and those willing to live will die.'
That was an encouragement speech by Admiral Yi before the Battle of Myeongnyang Strait in October 26th, 1597.
In Hansan Island, a 960 square km large forest is blanketed with camellias and old red pines. In the woods, there is Jeseungdang, which was the strategic headquarters of Admiral Yi Sunshin where he commanded the war for five years during Imjin Invasion in 1592. Jeseungdang has a five-page documentary called Chungmugong that recorded the activities of that admiral which depicts the events of that period. You can also see the barracks, The Suru Watch Tower, Chungmusa Shrine and Hansanjeong, where soldiers were trained in archery. The Suru Watch Tower overlooks a fine view of the sea, along with a view of Jeseungdang. 

The active cultivation of oysters, ascidians, brown seaweed and pearls is attracting more tourists to this area. The coast of Hansan Island has also become a famous fishing spot.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Moe-Korea's Dev Log, Part III: Anime Outsourced, Korea.

As you can see, most of Japanese anime are outsourced to Korea. Most of key animations are done in Japan but some anime needs an outsource animation editing - perhaps, Korea as the major outsource. My point on doing this stuff in my blog is relating anime characters which are either Korean outsourced or non-Korean outsourced in the places in Republic of Korea.

For example, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha the Movies (1st and 2nd A's) are outsourced to Korea for further animation editings. That means, Fate Testarossa, Nanoha Takamachi, Hayate Yagami and other Nanoha characters are related to the places in Korea.

Most of the Korean Animation firms such as Seoul Loft, DR Movie, Sung San, Sunwoo, Jiwoo, Hanjin and other firms are competed each other in order to make an outsource animation for the certain anime. Examplis gratia, Naruto is outsourced to Seoul Loft while an outsource animator from Korea, Sang Jae-youp/상재엽 made the outsource animation for FullMetal Alchemist and Bleach.  

These are the reasons why Japanese anime needs outsourced animation. Japan's animation industry is struggling. Anime workers are unhappy, toiling long hours at low pay. Sales have been declining. On top of that, there is fast-growing competition from across Asia. Studios in China and South Korea now churn out high-quality anime-style programs, helped by cheaper labor and, in some cases, government subsidies.

The Japanese government says it is trying to support the industry, with plans to increase spending on education and training young animators and allocating more funds toward film marketing. But nurturing home-grown talent has become more difficult as Japanese companies increasingly outsource anime drawing to studios in China, South Korea and Vietnam, where labor costs are lower.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Noryang Point, Namhae, Southern Gyeongsang: Admiral Yi Sunshin's Last Stand

General Clarissa is reading a book entitled 'Yi Soon-shin: Warrior and Defender'. Further ado, this book contains yaoi scenes. That's why she loves to read it.
The Battle of Noryang Point (Hangul/Hanja/Romanization: 노량대첩/露梁大捷/Noryang Daecheop), the last major battle of the Japanese Imjin Invasions of Korea (1592–1598), was fought between the Japanese navy and the combined fleets of the Joseon Kingdom and the Ming Dynasty. It took place in the early morning of 16 December (19 November in the Lunar calendar) 1598 and ended past dawn at the present-day Noryang-ri, Seolcheon-myeon, Namhae County, Southern Gyeongsang. Further ado, this is the final battle and last stand for Admiral Chungmugong Yi Sunshin.

The allied force of about 150 Joseon and Ming Chinese ships, led by Admirals Yi Sunshin and Chen Lin, attacked and either destroyed or captured more than half of the 500 Japanese ships commanded by Shimazu Yoshihiro, preventing his link-up with Konishi Yukinaga. The battered survivors of Shimazu's fleet limped back to Busan and a few days later, left for Japan. At the height of the battle, Admiral Yi was hit by a bullet from an arquebus and died shortly thereafter.

Due to setbacks in land and sea battles, the Japanese armies had been driven back to their network of fortresses, or wajō [JP]/waeseong [KR] (和城/倭城), on the southeastern Korean coast. However, the wajō could not hold the entire Japanese army so in June 1598, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the Taikō who instigated the Imjin Invasion, and also the acting Japanese Lord of War, ordered 70,000 troops of mostly the Japanese Army of the Right to withdraw to the archipelago. On 18 September 1598, Hideyoshi unexpectedly died at Fushimi castle. Hideyoshi's last orders were for the remaining units of the Japanese army, which garrisoned the network of wajō, to begin their withdrawal as well. Due to the presence of Joseon and Ming ships, the Japanese garrisons in the wajō could not retreat and stayed in the relative safety of their forts.

The Suncheon wajō in Southern Jeolla Province was the westernmost Japanese fortress and contained 14,000 troops commanded by Konishi Yukinaga, who was the leader of Japan's vanguard contingent during the first invasion in 1592. Admiral Yi and Chen Lin blocked Konishi from retreat, but Konishi sent many gifts to Chen in an attempt to bribe the Ming commander into lifting the blockade. At first, Chen agreed to withdraw the allied fleet, but Admiral Yi steadfastly refused to comply. Then Chen Lin suggested that the allied fleet attack smaller, more vulnerable wajō, such as the fort at Namhae. Admiral Yi refused that strategy as well. Yi countered that Konishi, who commanded one of the largest wajō, would be allowed to escape if the allies were to leave and fight elsewhere.

On 15 December, about 20,000 Japanese troops from the wajō of Sacheon, Goseong and Namhae boarded 500 ships and began to mass east of the Noryang Strait in an attempt to break the allied blockade of Suncheon. The overall commander of this relief force was Shimazu Yoshihiro, the leader of the Sacheon wajō.

The objective of the allied fleet was to prevent the link-up of Shimazu's fleet with the fleet of Konishi, then attack and defeat Shimazu's fleet. The objective of Shimazu's fleet was to cross Noryang Strait, link up with Konishi and retreat to Busan. Shimazu knew that Konishi was trying to cause disunity within the allies and hoped that they would be busy elsewhere or still blockading the Suncheon wajō and thus vulnerable to an attack from their rear.

On 15 December, a huge Japanese fleet was amassed in Sacheon bay, on the east end of the Noryang Strait. Shimazu was not sure where the allied fleet was. It might have been continuing the blockade of Konishi's wajō, on its way to attack an abandoned wajō further east or blocking their way on the western end of Noryang Strait. Admiral Yi, meanwhile, knew exactly where Shimazu was after receiving reports from scouts and local fishermen.

The Joseon fleet consisted of 82 panokseon multi-decked oared ships. The Ming fleet consisted of six large war junks (true battle vessels most likely used as flagships) that were driven by both oars and sails, 57 lighter war ships driven by oars alone (most likely transports converted for battle use), and two panokseon provided by Admiral Yi. In terms of manpower, the allied fleet had 8,000 sailors and marines under Admiral Yi, 5,000 Ming men of the Guangdong squadron and 2,600 Ming marines who fought aboard Korean ships, a total of almost 16,000 sailors and fighting men. The Ming fleet was divided into two squadrons, the larger of which was commanded by Chen Lin and the smaller by Deng Zilong. The allied fleet was well equipped with cannon, mortars, archers and arquebusiers. The Japanese had 500 ships, but a significant part of their fleet consisted of light transports. The Japanese ships were well armed with arquebuses and also had some captured Joseon cannons. The allied fleet was outnumbered, but made up for it with ships which, on average, had superior firepower and heavier, more sturdy construction.

The allied fleet waited for Shimazu on the west end of Noryang strait. The battle began at 02:00 on 16 December. It was, from the very beginning, a desperate affair with the Japanese determined to fight through the allied fleet and the allies equally determined to keep them from breaking through and advancing.

As in Admiral Yi's previous battles, the Japanese were unable to respond effectively as the Korean and Chinese cannons prevented them from moving. The narrowness of the Noryang Strait also prevented any maneuverability.

When the Japanese fleet was significantly damaged, Chen Lin ordered his fleet to engage in melee combat with the Japanese. This, however, allowed the Japanese to use their arquebuses and fight using their traditional fighting style of boarding enemy ships. When Chen Lin's flagship was attacked, Admiral Yi had to order his fleet to engage in hand-to-hand combat as well.

Song Hui-rip, the captain of Admiral Yi's flagship, was struck in the helmet by an arquebus ball and fell unconscious for a time. The vessels got so close that Joseon ships were able to throw burning wood onto the decks of Japanese ships.

Heavy Japanese arquebus fire forced the Chinese sailors to keep their heads low, while the Japanese closed in. Several parties boarded Chen Lin's flagship and in the hand-to-hand fighting that ensued, Chen's son was injured parrying a sword thrust directed at his father. Seeing Chen's ship in trouble, the Ming left wing commander Deng Zilong and two hundred of his personal guard transferred to a Joseon panokseon (one of two given to the Ming fleet by Admiral Yi) and rowed to his aid. Several Ming ships, mistaking the panokseon for a Japanese ship, opened fire and disabled it. The stricken panokseon drifted towards the Japanese and they boarded and killed everyone on board, including Deng.

By the middle of the battle, as dawn was about to break, the allied fleet had the upper hand and half of Shimazu's ships were either sunk or captured. It was said that Shimazu Yoshihiro's flagship was sunk and that Shimazu was clinging to a piece of wood in the icy water. Japanese ships came to his rescue, pulling him to safety. During the course of the battle, the ships fought from the west end of the strait all the way across to the east end, almost to the open water. The Japanese sustained heavy damage and began to retreat along the south coast of Namhae Island, towards Busan.

As the Japanese retreated, Admiral Yi ordered a vigorous pursuit. During this time a stray arquebus bullet from an enemy ship struck Admiral Yi near the armpit, on his left side. Sensing that the wound was fatal, the Admiral uttered, 
싸움이 급하니 나의 죽음을 알리지 말라.
 "We are about to win the war -- keep beating the war drums. Do not announce my death."
and with these words he died.

Only three people witnessed his death including Yi Hoe, his eldest son, Song Hui-rip, and Yi Wan, his nephew. Admiral Yi's son and nephew struggled to regain their composure and carried the Admiral's body into his cabin before others could notice. For the remainder of the battle, Yi Wan wore his uncle's armor and continued to beat the war drum to let the rest of the fleet know that the Admiral's flagship was still in the fight.

Chen's ship was again in trouble and Yi's flagship rowed to his rescue. Yi's flagship fought off and sunk several Japanese ships and Chen Lin called for Yi to thank him for coming to his aid. However, Chen was met by Yi Wan who announced that his uncle was dead. It is said that Chen himself was so shocked that he fell to the ground three times, beating his chest and crying. News of Admiral Yi's death spread quickly throughout the allied fleet.

Out of 500 Japanese ships under Shimazu's command, an estimated 150 were able to make it back to Busan Harbor (other Joseon archives record that Shimazu's remnants were fiercely pursued by the Yi Sunshin's fleet: only 50 ships of Shimazu's Armada ever managed to escape). Konishi Yukinaga left his fortress on 16 December and his men were able to retreat by sailing through the southern end of Namhae Island, bypassing both the Noryang Strait and the battle. Although he knew the battle was raging, he made no effort to help Shimazu. All the Japanese fortresses were now abandoned and Ming and Joseon ground forces moved up to capture them, claim abandoned supplies and round up stragglers. Konishi, Shimazu, Katō Kiyomasa and other Japanese generals of the Left Army congregated in Busan and withdrew to Japan on 21 December. The last ships sailed to Japan on 24 December, bringing an end to seven years of war.

Admiral Yi Sunshin's body was brought back to his home town in Asan, Southern Chungcheong to be buried next to his father, Yi Chong (in accordance with Korean tradition). The court gave him the posthumous rank of Minister of the Right. Shrines (e.g: Hyeonchungsa, Asan, Southern Chungcheong and Chungmusa, Hansan Islets, TongYeong, Southern Gyeongsang), both official and unofficial, were constructed in his honor. In 1643, Admiral Yi was given the title of Chungmugong, "Duke/Lord of Loyal Valor".

Chen Lin gave a eulogy while attending Admiral Yi's funeral. He then withdrew his forces to Ming China and received high military honors.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Everybody come to Jagalchi Market, One of the Famous Markets in Busan Metropole.


The Jagalchi Market which is located at 52 JagalchiHaean-ro/Jagalchi-Haean Avenue, Nampo-dong 4-ga 37-1 beonji, Busan Jung-gu is Korea's largest seafood market. The name is said to have originated from jagal (자갈 - gravel in Korean) because the market used to be surrounded by many gravels. The market is located on the edge of Nampo Port (남포항) and one of the ten landmarks of Busan, so many tourists visit there to shop for fresh fisheries.

After the Korean War the market solidified itself as a fish market. Most of the people who sell fish are women, so the women who sell here are called 'Jagalchi Ajumma,' 'ajumma' meaning middle-aged or married women. 

This market represents Busan and is famous throughout the country. If you visit you can eat fresh raw fish right at the market. Even these days you can see women selling mackerel, sea squirts (ascidians) and whale meat on wooden boxes along the road. 

Every year in October the Jagalchi Cultural Tourism Festival is held, and it is easy to visit because of the convenient transportation provided by the subway. The Jagalchi Market is where you can see the lifestyle of the indigenous Busan natives.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, Part IX: Hwahongmun Flood Gate (Please Bleach your boobies. Just Kidding!)


The Suwon Stream cuts across Suwon Hwaseong Fortress from the North to the South. Water gates were installed on the north and south walls to allow the river to flow through. Hwahongmun Flood Gate (화홍문/華虹門) or also known as Buksumun (北水門) is the north water gate of the fortress, containing seven arches, constructed in varying sizes, to let the water through. The central opening is larger than the ones towards the outside, making it easier to control the rainfall and prevent flash flood in Suwon. A bower on the stream was a resting place for the people and equipped with cannons to guard the fortress. On the hill east of the Hwahongmun Gate lies a fabulously built Banghwasuryujeong Pavilion (방화수류정/訪花隨柳亭) a.k.a DongbukGangnu (동북각루/東北閣樓) .



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Maewoldae Falls, Cheorwon, Gangwon Province: The Place of Exiled Minister, Kim Si-seup


Maewoldae (Hanja: 梅月臺) means a precipitous pocky cliff of 40-meter-high located on the mountaintop, 595m above the sea level at the mountain edge of Mt. Bokgye (Specific Location: 818 Haojae Avenue, Jamgok-ri san 130-9 beonji, Geunnam-myeon, Cheorwon County, Gangwon Province) where Maewoldang Kim Si-seup (Hangul/Hanja: 매월당 김시습/梅月堂 金時習), one of Six Living Ministers a.k.a SaengYukshin (Hangul/Hanja: 생육신/生六臣) and 8 martyrs who abandoned their official posts by resenting Grand Prince Suyang’s throne usurpation (later King Sejo) against Young King Danjong and went into retirement to this mountain area.

According to the legend, the tradition has been handed down that the 9 scholars engraved a baduk board to a rock and played baduk with planning restoration of Danjong, later, people called this rock Maewoldae by naming after the title of Kim Si-seup, and there is Maewoldae Waterfall at about 1 km to the east from the top of Maewoldae, which is a famous place to offer magnificent views all around the 4 seasons.

Maewoldae is surrounded by a lush forest with a deep valley, and also offers a magnificent view of Seonam Waterfall at the foot of the mountain standing across. At the entrance of Maewoldae is the Cheongseokgol Outdoor Studio, where such popular Korean TV dramas as Im Kkeok-Jeong and Damo were shot.



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Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, Part VIII: Sinpungnu Pavilion (More Bleach, More Fun!)

Ken-chan, over here! We have Joseonese Army Battalion to test our strength!

Sinpungnu Pavilion (Hanja: 新豊樓) is the main gate of Hwaseong Haenggung. It was called as Jinnamnu (Hangul/Hanja: 진남루/鎭南樓) originally when it was built in 1790. In 1795, King Jeongjo the Great changed its name to Sinpungnu and had Cho Yoon-hyung (Hangul: 조윤형) rewrite the name tablet. The origin of Sinpung goes back to an old story that King Gaozu of the Han Dynasty once said, "The area of Pung is another home to me." Hwaseong was like another hometown to King Jeongjo the Great. In 1795, he distributed rice and porridge to the poor in front of Sinpungnu.


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