This blog may contain not-so-strong languages and slightly strong ecchi pictures. Please proceed with caution.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Seomyeon Market, Busan Busanjin-gu: Busan Vacance and Window Shopping!

Seomyeon (Hanja: 西面) is the commercial center and transportation hub in Busan Busanjin-gu, South Korea. Seomyeon is also the most crowded area in Busan, having a floating population of 165,300 a day. Seomyeon has three underground shopping malls meeting beneath the Seomyeon road junction, a department store, many shopping stores, bars, restaurants, movie theaters, banks, bookstores, clinics, etc.

The area called Seomyeon is Bujeon-dong. The name of Seomyeon was that of an old administrative district surrounding the area when Busan was a small village in the Joseon Dynasty Era. Current Busanese citizens still call the area Seomyeon as then they did, though its official administrative precinct is now known as Bujeon-dong.

As a transportation hub, Seomyeon has most public transportation, including the subway and buses, to take you anywhere in Busan. Seomyeon Station near the Seomyeon road junction is one of the busiest subway stations in Korea and the transfer station between Busan HüMetro Lines 1 and 2. Bujeon Station near Bujeon Market is a train station on the Donghae Nambu Line and Bujeon Line. A bus transfer center also lies in front of the Busan main store of the Lotte Department Store.

Allah Kore Cumhuriyeti'yi Korusun, Part XIII: Gwangju-Gyeonggi Mosque

Gwangju-Gyeonggi Mosque (Hanja: 廣州聖院) which is located at 10 Yeokdong Avenue 34th Street/Yeokdongno 34beon-gil, Yeokdong 48-9 beonji, Gwangju City, Gyeonggi Province is the third mosque built in Korea. In May 1979 (H.1399), His Excellency Deputy Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs of Kuwait, Sheikh Muhammad Nasir al-Hamhan al-Utaibi visited SsangYong-ri, ‘The Muslim village’ and encouraged the newly converted Muslims. After his return to Kuwait, Sheikh Muhammad Ibrahim al-Sagabi, a judge in Kuwait, also visited the village and arranged to pay for the construction of the Mosque and Islamic Center. Muslims in Kuwait and Br. Abdul Aziz al-Reeys, the editor of newspaper ‘Al-Banna’ donated US$126,675. 

The land was donated by Br. Ha Wi-sik (하위식), a devoted Korean Muslim in the village. The inaugural ceremony of this Masjid was held in July 1981 (H.1401) witnessed by more than 40 delegates from various Islamic countries. All the inhabitants of this small village, 700 people in total, converted to Islam in 1979 (H.1399).

The plottage of the Gwangju Mosque is 856 sq m (about 600 pyeong in Korean Measurement Unit System) and Mosque building is 99 sq m and the number of Muslims at this Mosque is about 735 people (male 450, female 285) at the end of February, 2003 (H.1423). This Mosque is led by Imam Abdullah Jeon Deuk-rin (전득린) who serves it as chairman and imam since it opened. 

On March 2001(H.1421), the KFMA was formed and helped 1,500 foreign Muslims in the area for safety and welfare needs. They are laborers mainly from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, Uzbekistan, Ghana, Burkina Paso and Iran. KFMA helps in making pleas to the Ministry of Labor in cases of delayed pay; industrial disasters; and solving compensation problems with Korean employers. They made a contract with the Association of Medical Doctors in Gwangju city for 50% off on medical charges to Muslim workers. They also work with the police station there for their safety.

Mount Soyo, Dongducheon, Gyeonggi Province: A Mountain which is Dedicated to two Great Monks during Unified Silla Period

Mount Soyo (Hanja: 逍遙山) on the outskirts of Dongducheon City, Gyeonggi Province is the most treasured mountain north of the Han River. Although it is relatively small, only standing 587m (1,926 ft) tall, covered by a lush forest, and dotted by waterfalls and peaks. It is located in the administrative precinct of Soyo-dong.

On the slopes of Mount Soyo rest shrines commemorating Wonhyo and Uisang, two renowned Buddhist monks from the Silla Kingdom, and the Jajae Hermitage, a small temple where Wonhyo practiced asceticism. There are many small waterfalls including Wonhyo Falls, Uisang Falls, Cheongnyang Falls, and Seonnyeotang Falls, which are popular destinations for visitors in the summer. Although Nahanjeon, a natural stone cave, and Geumsonggul Cave, halfway up the mountain, still maintain an air of mystery. 

Moving from the base of the mountain, past the parking lot and shops, and following the flat path, you will find Jajae Hermitage; and, after going a bit further, you will find Wonhyo Falls cascading down between the rocky cliffs. Below the fall is Songni Bridge, which leads straight to the Uisangdae site (587m) at the top of the mountain. The left path off of the bridge leads to a cliff that is the Wonhyodae site; and by following a forest path between rising rock walls, you can trek to the Jajae Hermitage, next to which is a small cave called Nahanjeon. Very tasty spring water wells in the cave and it is called Wonhyo Spring, and its waters are famous for making excellent tea.

The mountain is accessible by using KORAIL-Seoul Metro Line 1 to the Northern Terminus of the Line which is Station 100: Soyosan Station.

Confucian Confusions in Korea, Part XXI: Gwacheon Hyanggyo, Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province

Korean-translated Nobunaga's Atsumori is here!
Gwacheon Hyanggyo (Hanja: 果川鄕校) in 18 Jahadong Alley/Jahadong-gil, JungAng-dong 81-beonji, Gwacheon City, Gyeonggi Province was originally built on the foot of Mt. Gwanak in 1398 in the 7th year of King Taejo Yi Seong-gye of Joseon Dynasty, but it was moved and reconstructed to the present location in 1689 (16th Reigning Year of King Sukjong) after several fires and for the number of students was decreased. It was called Siheung Hyanggyo (시흥향교/始興鄕校) as it was once included in Siheung County (1959), and restored its original name Gwacheon Hyanggyo in 1996 by the approval of National Confucian Academy, based on the location in Gwacheon City.

This Confucian school was first established in Gwacheon in 1398 by Yeol, a follower of the High Priest Muhak-daesa. It was burnt down in 1400 and later reconstructed. It was destroyed during the Japanese Imjin Invasions of 1592-98, rebuilt, and destroyed again during the Chinese-Qing Byeongja Invasions in 1636-37. It was once again reconstructed sometime in the early 17th century and moved here in 1690 by the chief officer of Gwacheon. Of the remaining structures, the Daeseongjeon and Myeongnyundang halls are the most important. The Myeongnyundang is where local students were taught Confucianism and the Daeseongjeon is where memorial rituals were held annually to honor five great Confucian sages. 

Like most hyanggyo built on a sloped surface, the shrine building is higher than the study hall. On level land the configuration is generally reversed, with the shrine coming first to indicate its importance. Gwacheon Hyanggyo played its role as a starting point of hiking path to Yeonjudae Hermitage and Mount Gwanak. It becomes as the Gyeonggi Provincial Cultural Material No. 9.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Deokjinjin Battery, Ganghwa County, Incheon Metropole: Turbulent Years of Joseon Dynasty (1866~1876), Part II

Deokjinjin Battery (Hanja: 德津鎭) in 34 Deokjin Avenue/Deokjinno, Deokseong-ri 846-beonji, BurEun-myeon, Ganghwa County, Incheon Metropole was the key strategic point of the outer castle wall used for defending the Ganghwa Straits during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). It was originally a military camp commanded by an official with the rank of Cheomsa under the command of the Korean naval base. In 1677, an official with the rank of Manho was assigned to this camp along with 26 military officials, 100 soldiers, 2 battle ships, and other military equipment. In 1679, the Namjangpodae and Deokjinpodae batteries were stationed here. 

The military fortress was recognized as outer lying post of strategic importance in terms of securing the command of Ganghwa Strait. The fortress was constructed in 1656 during the reign of King Hyojong of Joseon dynasty. Deokjinjin fortress, Namjang batteries, Deokjin batteries were built in the 5th year of King Sukjong (1679). 

Twenty six officers, one hundred soldiers, twelve cannon shooters and two battle ships were assigned to this fortress. In the area of Deokjinjin the largest battery of all cannons in Ganghwa-do and Deokjin outpost were installed there and a warning monument stands along the seashore giving a notice of warning message to foreign vessels not allowed to access to island. There were fifteen cannons mounted within Namjang battery in those days but only seven cannons were available for this display at present.

Deokjinjin Camp was the scene of fierce battles that took place during French Byeong-in Invasion in 1866 and American Shinmi Invasion in 1871. The battlements and gatehouse of Deokjinjin that had all been destroyed during American Shinmi Invasion were restored in 1977. At the Namjangpodae Battery, cannons used by the Joseon military have been reproduced and installed for display.

Chojijin Battery, Ganghwa County, Incheon Metropole: Turbulent Years of Joseon Dynasty (1866~1876), Part I

The Chojijin Battery (Hanja: 草芝鎭) which is located at 58 Haeandongno, Choji-ri 624-beonji, Gilsang-myeon, Ganghwa County, Incheon Metropole was built in the 7th year of King Hyojong of Joseon (1656) for the purpose of national defence against seashore attack of any foreign enemies.

This is a place of battles including the French Byeong-in Invasion (for the reason of Catholic suppression) in October 1866 in the 3rd year of Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu, the invasion by the American Asia fleet under commander Roger forcing the Joseon for the opening of port and commerce in 1871, and the collision with the Japanese ship Unyomaru in 1875 at the 12th year of Emperor Gojong. Joseon army troops were poorly equipped with far inferior weapons had to fight against the France, America and Japan forces who were advantageously equipped with surpassing fire powers when compared to our primitive level of arms.

On April 23rd, 1871, the American navy under the command of Rear Admiral John Rodgers landed on Ganghwado Island, and an American force of 450 soldiers attacked Chojijin Battery, Deokjin Camp, and Gwangseongjin Camp one after another. On August 21st, 1875, the artillery of Chojijin engaged a fierce firefight with the Japanese warship Unyomaru. 

In particular, the incident of collision by Japanese ship Unyomaru caused a major ground that Joseon had to agree on the Ganghwa-do treaty in the 13th year of Emperor Gojong (1876). This incident eventually drove the country to open three ports of Incheon, Busan and Wonsan, Gangwon Porvince of DPRK and happened to lose our sovereignty in due course. That time one commander, eleven officers, three hundred twenty soldiers and three battle ships were assigned to this fortress.

This historical relics emphatically remind us of Koreans' suffering and struggling hardship and turbulence in the defensive history of Goryeo and Joseon dynasties thereafter these fortresses and camps were mended in 1973 and cannons of those days are now displayed for an educational use to raise patriotism and spirit of defence.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Korean National Museum of Contemporary Art, Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province: Contemporary Museum inside Seoul Grand Park

Miu with Pannya at Makgye-dong. Koreans are definitely addressing Miu as Mi-woo in Korean. Coincidentally, Mi-woo is also Korean given name for girls.
Located in 313 Gwangmyeong Avenue/Gwangmyeongno, Makgye-dong san 58-4 beonji, Gwacheon City, Gyeonggi Province - the Korean National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Gwacheon Main Office (Hanja: 國立現代美術館果川本館) displays work by Korean and international modern artists, as well as work by those contemporary artists currently making waves in the art world. 

The museum was established in 1986 after moving its office from Deoksu Palace (Deoksugung) Grounds in Seokjojeon Hall West Wing to the vicinity of Seoul Grand Park Area. Fortunately, the old Deoksugung Office reopened in 1998 and became as Korean National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Deoksugung Annex. The postal code for this museum is 427-701.

As well as its permanent collection, the museum generally presents several special exhibitions, which run for three to four months. For English information on the special exhibitions, visitors should check the Art Exhibitions section of VisitKorea’s “What’s On This Month” calendar, the link to which can be found on the main page. 

Most of the exhibitions can be seen free of charge, although some of the major special exhibitions may charge an admission fee. The museum’s six exhibition galleries are spread over three floors, and includes a children’s gallery. The museum is conveniently located on the outskirts of Seoul near to several other attractions, such as the Seoul Grand Park, and Seoul Land amusement park, so the area makes for a good day trip.

Sindang-dong, Seoul Jung-gu: Oh. My. Tteokbokki.

Sindang-dong (Hanja: 新堂洞) is a precinct of Seoul Jung-gu, South Korea and consists six sub-precincts. The neighbourhood is near Sindang Station and is approximately two blocks from exit 8. It is a popular shopping area with a variety of food markets, and eatries that specialise in Korean snacks such as Tteokbokki. It is known to Koreans for its Tteokbokki Town. The default postal code for Sindang-dong is 100-450. Perhaps, the postal codes for each sub-precincts (Sindang 1~6-dong) are 100-451 ~ 100-456.

One of Korea’s most ubiquitous foods, tteokbokki has a lot more history than one might first imagine. Although now a popular street food snack, tteokbokki is derived from Korean royal court cuisine, and its development over the centuries traces Korea’s history. 

Its roots can be traced back to the Joseon Dynasty, with the earliest written mention of the delicacy found in the 19th-century Joseon cookbook Siuijeonseo. It was originally a savory stir-fry made of rice cakes (tteok or garaetteok), meat, vegetables, and mushrooms, and seasoned with soy sauce. 

However, in the aftermath of the Korean War, soy sauce was hard to come by, so a new recipe was made featuring the spicy-sweet kick of gochujang. This is when tteokbokki became the delicacy we are familiar with today. Although gochujang tteokbokki can be found at street food carts all across the city, the original restaurant where this spicy rice cake dish can still be found in Sindang-dong Tteokbokki Town, a wide alley southeast of Dongdaemun Market. 

Rather than a light snack, the local tteokbokki here is treated as a full meal, cooked in large portions at the customer’s table. Also unlike the tteokbokki served from street food carts, this style isn’t as hot, seasoned instead with a combination of gochujang (chili paste) and jajang (black bean sauce). 

It is widely believed that this recipe was invented by accident in 1953, when street food vendor Ma Bok-rim accidentally dropped a rice cake into her father-in-law’s jajangmyeon (Chinese noodles with black bean sauce). It tasted better than she expected, and it got her thinking about experimenting with sauces and seasoning. She took a chance selling the new recipe, and soon she upgraded her street stall to a full-fledged restaurant. Her restaurant can still be found near the entrance of Sindang-dong Ttteokbokki Town, adorned with her face and boasting “Since 1953.” 

In the 1970s as food shortages eased, the recipe was refined further, and ingredients such as fish cake (eomuk or odaeng), glass noodles, and boiled egg were added. 

By the 1980s, Ma’s restaurant was joined by several more tteokbokki establishments with their own variations on her original recipe, and Sindang-dong Ttteokbokki Town was established. Many of the restaurants still have DJ booths, where DJs could spin vinyl records in order to attract customers off the streets. Today, some of the restaurants still maintain a music schedule, most notably I Love Sindang-dong which even offers live music performances. 

There are approximately ten tteokbokki restaurants on the street, all with mostly the same menu but each made with a unique recipe. Restaurateurs stand in front of their stores inviting customers inside. 

Aprons are available to customers to protect their clothes, as cooking tteokbokki can get messy. The food is cooked right at the table, a preparation method not unlike dishes like budae jjigae (army base stew) and dakgalbi, both postwar delicacies. In the pan is added a combination of garaetteok, sauces, onions, cabbage, fish cakes, egg, mandu (dumplings), and a variety of different noodles. Customers can order more of one ingredient as well, and some restaurants even offer seafood and chicken feet. 

Cooking tteokbokki requires attention, as it must be stirred often to prevent the garaetteok from sticking to the pan. It is recommended that the mandu be cut in half to allow sauces to seep in. This is very much removed from street food tteokbokki; the taste is savory rather than hot, and the food is very filling. Once the pan has been emptied, many restaurants offer a combination of rice and seaweed to soak up the last remaining sauces. 

Every October, Sindang-dong Tteokbokki Town holds an annual tteokbokki festival with various cooking, song, and dance competitions. 

In recent years, interest in tteokbokki has increased rapidly. Many new restaurants have opened offering new fusion recipes such as cheese tteokbokki, curry tteokbokki, and carbonara tteokbokki, but Sindang-dong is the place to go to get a more pure taste of the rich history of this delicacy. 

Streets of Seoul, Part IX: Tehran Avenue (Teheranno) - Dedicated to the First Sister City of Seoul

Teheranno (alternatively Teheran-ro or Tehran-ro, English: Tehran Avenue, Persian: خیابان تهران) is an avenue in Seoul Gangnam-gu, South Korea. It runs from Gangnam Station through Yeoksam-dong and into Samseong-dong. It is colloquially known as “Tehran Valley” (after Silicon Valley) due to the number of internet-related companies operating there, including major domestic internet portals Daum and Naver as well as Google Korea. Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix Semiconductors both operate offices here as well. Various Korean and international financial and business institutions including POSCO, Standard Chartered-First Bank of Korea and Citibank Korea also maintain offices here. Some of Korea's tallest skyscrapers and most expensive real estate are on Teheranno, while Seoul Metropolitan Government estimates that more than half of Korea's venture capital, some 200 billion won (approximately $200 million), is invested in Tehran Valley.

Teheranno is a 3.7 km section of Korean Highway 90, and runs eastwards from Gangnam Station (Gangnam-yeok Sageori) to Samseong Station, the COEX/KWTC complex and Samseong Bridge (Samseong-gyo). Yeoksam and Seolleung stations are also on Teheranno. All stations are on Seoul Metro Line 2. This avenue consists 10 lanes, 5-lane each on two directions.

In 1976, the Seoul Metropolitan Government suggested that the city of Seoul and Tehran, pre-revolutionary Iran exchange the names of streets on the occasion of the visit to Korea of Gholamreza Nikpay, Mayor of Tehran. The following year, the street previously named Samneungno (삼릉로/三陵路) was renamed Teheranno, which ran through a relatively underdeveloped area recently annexed into Seoul (in 1963). 

In the following years, the district of Gangnam-gu experienced phenomenal growth and waves of construction that continues even today, with Teheranno becoming one of the busiest streets in South Korea. Seoul St. in Tehran runs in the north of that city, close to the Evin district.

Four Intersections of Gangnam Station (Gangnam-yeok Sageori) -  Four Intersections of Kukkiwon, World Taekwondo Headquarters (Kukkiwon-sageori) - Yeoksam Station - Renaissance Seoul Hotel - Seolleung Station (Joseonese Royal Tomb of Seonjeongneung) - Four Intersections of POSCO (POSCO-sageori) - Samseong Station - Gangnam Police Station, Gangnam Fire Station - Samseong Bridge

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Scars of Imjin Invasion, Part III: Busan Jinjiseong-Jaseongdae, Busan Dong-gu

The Busanjinjiseong Fortress (Hangul/Hanja: 부산진지성/釜山鎭支城; also known as Jaseongdae [자성대/子城臺]) is located at 99 Jaseong Avenue/Jaseong-ro, Beomil-dong 590-5 beonji, Busan Dong-gu, the Republic of Korea. The existing wall-fortress remains were constructed by the Japanese military during the Japanese Imjin Invasion of Korea (1592-1598). There are two assertions on the name of Jaseong (Subordinate Castle). One is that the wall-fortress on the current Mt.Jeungsan, Jwacheon-dong is the mother castle and accordingly called Jaseong. The other is that Jaseong was constructed on the mountain top as the General's terrace.

The Busanjinjiseong Fortress was also called Mangongdae in memory of Ming Dynasty General Wan Shide who stayed at Jaseongdae to reinforce the Korean soldiers defending against the Japanese invasion of Korea. The wall-fortress was repaired after General Wan Shide returned home.

It was used as Gyeongsangjwado (Left Gyeongsang) Naval Headquarters which later moved into its present location in the present-day Busan Suyeong-gu. It was also used as the Busanjin Naval Headquarters. The wall-fortress was removed by the Japanese during their forced occupation. Around this time the sea encircling Jaseongdae was filled with land, reducing Jaseongdae to a smaller site, however it was later repaired.

Solmaru-gil, Ulsan Nam-gu: Eco Road in Ulsan Metropole

Solmaru-gil, an ‘eco path of Ulsan’ that connects the people with mother nature, is a 24-km urban circuit walk that starts from Seonam Lake Park in Seonam-dong, Ulsan Nam-gu and connects with Mount Shinseon, Mount Daegongwon in Ulsan Grand Park, Munsu International archery range, Solmaru Haneul-gil, Mount Samho and Mount Namsan.

There are four sectors in this trail which are Mount Shinseon sector (4km), Ulsan Grand Park sector (10km), Mount Samho (6km) and Mount Namsan (4km). Climbing up to the top of Sinseonjeong Pavilion on Mount Shinseon, you may enjoy the wide, breathtaking view of Seonam Lake Park. The route to Mount Daegongwon is gradual, rather than steep, and the thick pine tree forest offers a great spot for a forest bath. Since the road connects mountains with the city, it offers easy access and diverse walking routes to Ulsanese Citizens.

Be advised that the trail will be not safe to walk for the tourists due to Fire Precautionary Period (usually occur during summer season). This is because the trail is vulnerable to forest fire.

Solmaru-gil Trail Map in Korean. Happy trailing!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Sungnyemun: South Korean First National Treasure, Trademark of Seoul Jung-gu

Sungnyemun in May 2013, with extended wall fortress.
Namdaemun (Hangul/Hanja: 남대문/南大門), officially known as the Sungnyemun (Hangul/Hanja: 숭례문/崇禮門; literally Gate of Exalted Ceremonies), is one of the Eight Cardinal Gates in the Fortress Wall of Seoul-Hanyang, South Korea, which surrounded the city in the Joseon Dynasty. The gate is located in 40 Sejong Boulevard/Sejong-daero (previously known as Taepyeongno/Taepyeong Avenue), Namdaemunno 4-ga 29-beonji, Seoul Jung-gu, between Seoul Station and Seoul City Plaza (Seoul City Hall Taepyeongno Main Office at 110 Sejong Boulevard, Taepyeongno 1-ga 31-beonji), with the historic 24-hour Namdaemun market is next to the gate. It is a trademark of Seoul Jung-gu where the Official Insignia of Seoul Jung-gu featured Sungnyemun on the small greenish silhouette.

The gate, dating back to the 14th century, is a historic pagoda-style gateway, and is designated as the first National Treasures of South Korea. It was once one of the three major gateways through Seoul's city walls which had a stone circuit of 18.2 kilometres (11.3 mi) and stood up to 6.1 metres (20 ft) high. It was first built in the fifth year of King Taejo Yi Seong-gye's reign in 1396, and rebuilt in 1447, during the 29th year of King Sejong the Great.

The South Korean government, as written in hanja on the wooden structure, officially calls the landmark, Sungnyemun, (English: Gate of Exalted Ceremonies) even though it has been more commonly known as Namdaemun (English: Great Southern Gate) since the Joseon Dynasty. The disparity is due to the occupation of Korea when the Japanese advocated the name Namdaemun.

In modern Korea, the common name has colonial overtones; a period when Korean identity was forcibly supplanted by Japanese culture. The official name Sungnyemun derives from policy to reclaim Korean heritage from Japanese imperialism. A process that has led to the removal of notable buildings.

Before the 2008 fire, Namdaemun was the oldest wooden structure in Seoul.The city gate, made of wood and stone with a two-tiered, pagoda-shaped tiled roof, was completed in 1398 and originally used to greet foreign emissaries, control access to the capital city, and keep out Siberian Tigers, which have long been gone from the area. Construction began in 1395 during the fourth year of the reign of King Taejo Yi Seong-gye and was finished in 1398. The structure was rebuilt in 1447 and was renovated several times since. It was originally one of three main gates, the others being the East Gate (Dongdaemun/Heunginjimun) and the now-demolished West Gate (Seodaemun/Donuimun) in Jongno-gu, named after the old gate.

In the early part of the 20th century, the city walls that surrounded Seoul were demolished to make the traffic system more efficient. A visit to Seoul by the Crown Prince of Japan prompted the demolition of the walls around Namdaemun, as the prince was deemed to be too exalted to pass through the gateway. The gate was closed to the public in 1907 after the Japanese colonial authorities constructed an electric tramway nearby. In 1938, the government designated Namdaemun as Korean Treasure No. 1.

Namdaemun was extensively damaged during the Korean War (1950-1953) and was given its last major repair in 1961, with a completion ceremony held on May 14, 1963. It was given the status of "National Treasure No.1" on December 20, 1962. The Gate was renovated again in 2005 with the building of a lawn around the gate, before being opened once again to the public with much fanfare on March 3, 2006. During the restoration, 182 pages of blueprints for the gate were made as a contingency against any emergencies which may damage the structure. Two years later, such an emergency arose.

Sungnyemun into ashes in February 2008 and a sensible bit of Gyeongsang Dialect. For more information, click here.
The Cultural Heritage Administration of South Korea said that it would undertake a three-year project that would cost an estimated ₩20 billion (approximately $14 million) to rebuild and restore the historic gate. President Lee Myung-bak proposed starting a private donation campaign to finance the restoration of the structure.

By January 2010, 70% of the pavilion gate, the first floor and 80 percent of the fortress wall has been completed. Work on the roof began in April after the completion of the wooden second floor, with 22,000 roof tiles produced in a traditional kiln in Buyeo County, Southern Chungcheong Province. The wall and basic frame were scheduled to be finished in April and May respectively. The pillars and rafters are to be elaborately decorated, with the ornamental patterns and colors based on those used in the large-scale repair in 1963, which was closest to the early-Chosun original.

In January, 2013, it was estimated by an official that restoration of the gate would be completed around May 2013. Construction had been delayed by five months due to harsh weather conditions in Seoul. On 17 February 2013, the gate was 96% completed, and all steel-frame scaffolding had been removed. On 29 April 2013, restoration work was completed, and the public opening was scheduled for Saturday, 4 May 2013, a day before Children's Day.

Skull, HaHa and Kantai Collection Collaboration - Busan Vacance, Part VII (FINAL) + Gracious and Groovy Gaya (3G), Part V: Bokcheon-dong Tumuli Site, Busan Dongnae-gu

Bokcheon-dong Tumuli Site (Hanja: 福泉洞古墳群) is a tomb which is located in 66 Bokcheon Avenue/Bokcheonno, Bokcheon-dong 60-beonji, Busan Dongnae-gu, the Republic of Korea. A number of tombs are scattered about this hillside in the precinct of Bokcheon-dong, which had been excavated partly by the Museum of Dong-A University. But later, through a new survey, the Museum of Pusan National University revealed many more tombs that were not visible from the ground. 

Some of the tombs are pit types without coffins, some have wooden coffins, and others have stone coffins covered with stone slabs. Many artifacts, including a bronze-gilded crown, an iron helmet, some armor, a horse bell and a horse face-guard were unearthed during the excavations. These are not only important to the study of the culture of Gaya Confederacy (1st-6th centuries AD) but are also revealing about how that culture was transmitted to Japan.

Skull, HaHa and Kantai Collection Collaboration - Busan Vacance, Part VI + Silla Superiority Complex, Part VIII: Taejongdae Park, Busan Yeongdo-gu - Marksmanship Training Site for King Taejong-Muyeol the Great

Designated as a Busan monument, along with Oryuk Islets in Busan Nam-gu, Taejongdae (Hanja: 太宗臺) in 209 Observatory Road/Jeonmangno, Dongsam-dong san 29-1 beonji, Busan Yeongdo-gu represents Busan, and is especially famous for its rock beach. Featuring its highest peak at 250 meters, there are forests of pine trees and other 200 varieties of trees. Taejongdae was named after the 29th king of Silla Kingdom 57 BCE - 935 CE), King Taejong-Muyeol the Great (604-661). King Taejong had traveled to many places but this was the place he practiced archery in order to improve his marksmanship. 

Under the lighthouse of this resort is a rock called Sinseon Rock, named after the myth that gods and goddesses came down here to relax. At this rock is a figure called Mangbuseok, named after the story of a woman who waited for her husband who had been taken to Japan. Taejongdae is also famous for the ritual of praying for rain, performed when there are droughts, and rain on the 10th of lunar May is called the 'Taejong Rain'. On days with clear skies you can see Japan’s Tsushima Island (Daema-do in Korean) from the observatory.

Skull, HaHa and Kantai Collection Collaboration - Busan Vacance, Part V: Songjeong Beach, Busan Haeundae-gu

Songjeong Beach in Songjeong-dong, Busan Haeundae-gu is the ideal beach for families to swim together because of its shallow waters and fine sand. The white sandy beach stretches for 1.2 km, and covers an area of 62,150 square meters. The sand is a mixture of debris from Songjeong River. The seashell grains that have formed naturally over time, lie beautifully like tiny marbles along the beach. The beach also has the unique feel of the southern region, making the experience all the more fun. 

At the entrance of the beach is the Jukdo, where you can find relaxation facilities in the evergreen groves. You can enjoy fishing as well at the northeast end of the beach. There is also a dock where you can use motorboats and take cruises in the summer. A particularly famous part of the Songjeong Beach is the Songil Pavilion (송일정/松日亭), from where you can get a magnificent view of the sunrise and moonrise. 

Because this beach is a bit out of the Busan area, it is quite unlike many of the other beaches in Busan. Every year the Harvest Full-Moon Seaweed Festival and the Songjeong Beach Festival are held here, and many vacationers come to enjoy the celebrations.

Skull, HaHa and Kantai Collection Collaboration - Busan Vacance, Part IV + Namo Palbeon Daebosal, Part XXIII: Jangansa, Gijang County, Busan Metropole

Jangansa Temple (Hanja: 長安寺) in Jangan-ri 591 beonji, Jangan-eup, Gijang County, Busan Metropole - dates back to as early as the reign of King Munmu the Great of Silla in 673. Jangansa Temple was founded by the legendary monk, Great Monk Wonhyo. Originally, the temple was called Ssanggyesa Temple, but it was later changed by King Chungjang of Goryeo sometime around 1350 because the temple with the same name is located at Hadong County, Southern Gyeongsang Province. In 1592, much like the rest of Korea, Jangansa Temple was burned to the ground by the invading Japanese during Imjin Invasion. It was later rebuilt in 1638 by the great priest Taeeo. It was later restored in 1654, and recoloured in 1975.

As you approach the large-sized parking lot, and cross a wooden bridge, you’ll stand in front of a beautiful two-storied front gate that also acts as a bell pavilion on the second level. To the left of the entrance gate is a stoic statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Uniquely, as you pass through the entrance gate at the temple, you’ll notice that the Four Heavenly Kings that protect the temple aren’t statues, nor are they even paintings; but instead, there are four bronze plaques of the Cheonwang.

Having passed through the Cheonwangmun Gate, you’ll enter into the large temple courtyard. To your immediate right is a gorgeous golden statue of what looks to be Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) in a small shrine. And to your immediate right is a fat dharma statue sitting above a stone pond of water. Straight ahead is the squarely shaped main hall. The exterior of this main hall is distinctively adorned with 15 Shim-u-do paintings. This is distinct because the Shim-u-do, Ox-Herding murals, usually only consist of ten. There are also some very beautiful murals of children monk playing much like at Samyeongam Hermitage. The interior of the main hall is gorgeously decorated with some older looking murals. Sitting on the main altar is the triad of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) in the centre, he’s flanked by Yaksayeorae-bul (The Buddha of Medicine) on the right and Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) on the left. On the far right wall, as you enter the main hall, you’ll notice two beautiful murals. The one on the left is a painting of Chilseong (The Seven Stars) and the one on the right is the guardian painting. On the far left wall is a gorgeously painted, perhaps one of the best in all of Korea, of Yongwang (The Dragon King). Next to this painting is a highly original painting of Jijang-bosal holding a baby in his arms. This is definitely a first for me.

Outside, to the right of the main hall, is the San shin-gak shrine hall dedicated to San shin (The Mountain Spirit). Inside this hall is an older looking wood carving dedicated to San shin. The exterior of this hall is decorated with some interestingly designed, and disproportionately painted, Biseon. And still to the right of the main hall, and in front of the San shin-gak, is a compactly designed Nahan-jeon shrine hall dedicated to the disciples of Seokgamoni-bul. The exterior of this hall is decorated with the standard paintings of the Nahan in various poses; however, the inside of the hall is rather interesting, especially the main altar. Sitting on the main altar are three white statues of three various Buddha and Bodhisattvas. Sitting in the centre is Seokgamoni-bul (which represents the present). Sitting to his right is Mireuk-bosal (The Future Buddha), and on the left is Jaehwagalra-bosal (The Past Buddha). Flanking this triad on either side of the three are the sixteen Nahan.

To the left of the main hall is the Myeongbu-jeon shrine hall dedicated to Jijang-bosal and the dead. This hall, much like the San shin-gak, is adorned with some uniquely disproportionate Biseon. However, inside, the hall is gorgeous designed. Sitting on the main hall is a white clad Jijang-bosal. Flanking Jijang-bosal on either side are the Ten Kings of the Underworld. They are all seated and accompanied by some assistants.

Behind this hall, and perhaps one of Jangansa Temple’s most beautiful halls, is a hall dedicated to Amita-bul and the Western Paradise that he represents. Inside, the hall is a golden hue with a statue of Amita-bul lying down on the main altar. He’s flanked by two regal looking Bodhisattvas. Behind you, as you face the altar, are large paintings of the Nahan.

Skull, HaHa and Kantai Collection Collaboration - Busan Vacance, Part III: Heosimcheong Hot Springs, Busan Dongnae-gu

Heosimcheong Hot Spring (Hanja: 虛心廳) is referred to as one of the better hot springs in Busan, the largest Hot Spring in Asia, and is therefore worth checking out. Located near Geumgang Park, it’s a great place to relax your muscles after hiking the mountain (even if you were lazy and took the cable car down!). Located at 32 Oncheonjangno 107beon-gil, Oncheon-dong 137-beonji, Busan Dongnae-gu, it is known to have been bathed in by kings of Silla, from King (Park) Hyeokgeose-Geoseogan to King (Kim) Gyeongsun [57 BCE – 935 CE], the spring has been developed into a 4,300 sq m urban complex with 4 million visits a year.  

The current building was completed in 1991. Segregated and largely duplicated by gender, facilities include hot, lukewarm and cool baths, fountains, saunas (including an "igloo" chilled to 0°C), mud baths, massage, exfoliation, and exercise rooms. The spring water is alkali, emerging at 45°C to 56°C, and has the highest concentration of magnesium in Korea. Forty different bath types are available, depending on the season, with different medicinal herbs and fruit essences, including cherry, pepper, lavender and citrus, mixed with the water. The complex also has a nightclub, a lounge, several banquet halls, a bakery, a bar (Heosimcheong Bräu) and a Japanese restaurant, and is connected to a neighboring hotel by skywalk. This hot spring opens from 5:30 am to 10 pm.

Once at the building, go up the escalator and you’ll see the welcome sign. After accepting the 7,900 won entrance fee (you pay when you leave), get a key at the front desk, put your shoes in one locker, then walk into your gender’s changing / locker / shower room. The process is pretty similar at most jimjilbangs/spas – strip, shower, then enjoy the hot springs and hot water in all the ways they’re presented to you.

This particular place has a little bit of everything, at every temperature from COLD (like the shower when you first turn it on) to too-hot-to-handle. The scenery was equivalently beautiful – and facilities varied. Heosimcheong is accessible by using Busan Hümetro Line 1 to Station 127: Oncheonjang Station (Urideul Hospital)/온천장역 (우리들병원)/溫泉場驛 (우리들病院).

Monday, 19 May 2014

Korean 6th Gear, Part II: SsangYong Motors, a subsidiary of Indian Conglomerate - Mahindra Group

SsangYong Motors Pyeongtaek Plant in Chilgoe-dong, Songtan Territory, Pyeongtaek City, Gyeonggi Province
SsangYong Motor Company (Korean: 쌍용자동차 주식회사/SsangYong Jadongcha Jusik-hoesa) is the fourth largest South Korea-based automobile manufacturer. The name SsangYong means double dragons in Sino-Korean language. The headquarters of this company is located in Songtan Territory, Pyeongtaek City, Gyeonggi Province with its postal code: 459-711.

A 70% share of SsangYong was acquired by Indian Mahindra & Mahindra Limited, in February 2011, after being named the preferred bidder in 2010 to acquire the bankruptcy-protected company. Mahindra's acquisition was approved by South Korea's Free Trade Commission.

SsangYong originally started out as two separate companies; Ha Dong-hwan Motor Workshop (established in 1954) and Dongbang Motor Co (established in 1962). In mid-1963, the two companies merged into Ha Dong-hwan Motor Co.

In 1964, Hadonghwan Motor Company started building jeeps for the US Army as well as trucks and buses. Beginning in 1976, Hadonghwan produced a variety of special purpose vehicles. After changing its name to Dong-A Motor in 1977, it was taken over by Ssangyong Business Group in 1986 and changed its name to SsangYong Motor. In 1987, it acquired United Kingdom-based specialty car maker Panther Westwinds.

In 1991 it started a technology partnership with Daimler-Benz. The deal was for SsangYong to develop an SUV with Mercedes-Benz technology. This was supposedly to allow SsangYong to gain footholds in new markets without having to build their own infrastructure (utilizing existing Mercedes-Benz networks) while giving Mercedes a competitor in the then-booming SUV market. This resulted in the SsangYong Musso, which was sold first by Mercedes-Benz and later by SsangYong.

SsangYong further benefited from this alliance, long after Daimler-Benz stopped selling the Musso, producing a badge engineered version of the Mercedes-Benz MB100, the Istana and using Daimler designs in many other models, including the second-generation Korando (engine and transmission), the Rexton (transmission), the Chairman H (chassis and transmission) and the Kyron (transmission).

In 1997, Daewoo Motors, now Tata Daewoo, bought a controlling stake from the Ssangyong Group, only to sell it off again in 2000, because the conglomerate ran into deep financial troubles. In late 2004, the Chinese automobile manufacturer SAIC took a 51% stake of SsangYong Motor Company.

In January 2009, after recording a $75.42 million loss, the company was put into receivership. This may have been due to the global economic crisis and shrinking demand. On August 14, 2009, worker strikes finished at the SsangYong factory and production commenced again after 77 days of disruption. Company employees and analysts have also blamed SAIC for stealing technology related to hybrid vehicles from the company and failing to live up to its promise of continued investment. SAIC denied allegations of technology theft by the company's employees. However, SAIC was charged by the South Korean prosecutor's office for violating company regulations and the South Korean law when it ordered and carried out the transfer of Ssangyong's proprietary technology developed with South Korean government funding over to SAIC researchers.

In 2010, Daewoo Motor Sales was dropped by General Motors. The long-time dealership partner then signed a deal with the SsangYong Motor Company to supply new vehicles to sell (specifically the Rodius, Chairman W and Chairman H), in return for the injection of ₩20 billion ($17.6 million) into the car maker still recovering from bankruptcy. The deal is non-exclusive, meaning SsangYong will also sell vehicles through private dealers.

In April 2010, the company released a statement citing interest of three to four local and foreign companies in acquiring SsangYong Motor Company, resulting in shares rising by 15%. The companies were later revealed to be Mahindra & Mahindra Limited and the Ruia Group of India and SM Aluminum, Seoul Investments and French-owned Renault Samsung of South Korea. In August 2010, Mahindra & Mahindra Limited was chosen as the preferred bidder for SsangYong. The acquisition was completed in February 2011 and cost Mahindra 522.5 Billion Won.

Current Lineups, made in Pyeongtaek:
  • SsangYong Korando C (Compact SUV; 5-door wagon)
  • SsangYong Korando Turismo/Rodius/Stavic (Large MPV; 5-door wagon)
  • SsangYong Korando Sports (Pick-up truck or Ute in Australian English; 4-door pick-up)
  • SsangYong Chairman H (Mid-size luxury car; 4-door sedan)
  • SsangYong Chairman W (Full-size luxury car; 4-door sedan)
  • SsangYong Rexton W (Mid-size SUV; 5-door wagon)
  • SsangYong Actyon (Compact SUV; 5-door lift-up)
  • SsangYong Kyron (Mid-size SUV; 5-door wagon)

Admin's Rants and Shits, Part V: I think... I've done it WRONG. Please forgive me and... don't hate me.

It is rude if I start this commotion without introducing myself. My name is Mohammad Faris bin Mohammad Fadil. Please note that Mohammad Faris is my name and Mohammad Fadil is my father’s name, based on patronymic system. You can call me Faris.

In this month, South Korea dominates the most number of pageviews in my blog entitled Moe Girls’ Korean Story. I feel very rejoiced that there are more Koreans to visit my blog but in the same time, the Korean Naver bloggers keep the resentment against me because of the Main Banner of my Blog that includes Shimakaze of Kantai Collection and Eucliwood Hellscythe of Kore wa Zombie desuka with the background of the big altar of Sewol-ho victims.

In April 16 2014, MV Sewol sank in the shore of Jindo Islets. I feel very sad because there are many school children; majorly from Danwon High School in Ansan Danwon-gu, Gyeonggi Province were perished in this incident. Furthermore, I feel very infuriated with the Captain of the Ship and his crews who give the wrong order: “Stay where ever you are”.  Ironically, they were the one of first survivor of the capsizing vessel. 

I feel very weird, why are they angry to me after I put saddened face of Eucliwood and Shimakaze mourning for the victims of Sewol-ho? Am I lack of self-concern on the sensitive issues of the Koreans? Am I hurting the feelings of the victims’ relatives? Didn’t I realize the Dos and Don’ts on Korean in handling social media? Am I meddling off the Korean issues? These questions are still tingling in my head.

I am not native Korean. I am Malaysian Citizen who adores the Beauty of Korea. I like Japanese manga/anime too. That’s why I associated them with the places throughout Korea. I really want to go there but unfortunately, I don’t have money to go and live there. I want to achieve my dreams on scoring as many as I could in Civil Engineering in Port Dickson Polytechnic, Malaysia and proceed my studies in Korea in the same study field. For your information, I can speak a little bit of Korean. 

I realized that my friend who hails from Daegu, Kwon Deok-hwan/권덕환 scolded me on these pictures and suggested me to apologise to all Koreans and the victims' relatives. Plus, I have replaced with the plain obituary note to Sewol-ho victims and my apology in Korean by using my handwriting. It means:
"To the victims' relatives of the Sewol-ho incident,
I'm sorry for the picture which hurting your heart.
I can speak Korean a little bit but I'm not a Korean Citizen.
It was my fault. I hurt your feelings so... please forgive me."

Thank you, Deok-hwan. Without your advice, I think... I'm in great danger. 
고맙데이, 덕환아. 너의 사항을 아니라면, 나는 대위기에 처했슴니더.

P/S: I can speak a little bit of Gyeongsang Dialect because my Korean friends are coming from Yeongnam-Gyeongsang Region.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Skull, HaHa and Kantai Collection Collaboration - Busan Vacance, Part II: Igidae Park, Busan Nam-gu

The mountains and hills of Busan are easily its best feature, both helping to confine the city’s sprawl and offering parks and natural refuges for residents to escape the stress of everyday life. Among Busan’s wide range of nature walks, the one spanning Igidae Park (Hanja: 二妓臺公園) in the precinct of Yongho-dong, Busan Nam-gu is among the most popular.

Jangsan Peak occupies the stretch of coastline just south of Gwangalli Beach in Busan Suyeong-gu, and had been under military control until 1993. The whole mountain is now open to the public, though nearly all visitors stick to the popular coastal walk, which takes about two-and-a-half hours. It’s a perfect hike, with magnificent views over the ocean and city, and only slightly strenuous.

Possibly even more than the beautiful nature, the path’s flawless infrastructure most impressed us. Steps and handrails in perfect condition, plentiful information posted in a variety of languages, modern suspension bridges, benches wherever the view is especially good, and even toilets are found along the trail. Busan has clearly invested a lot into Igidae Park, and it’s heartening to see a city so concerned with improving the quality of life of its citizens.

The name “Igidae” comes from a legend set during the Japanese Imjin Invasion of Busan. Shortly after conquering the city, the Japanese had a victory celebration at the fortress on Jangsan Peak. A few Korean “entertaining women”, or Gisaengs, were brought along to dance for their new lords. Two of them, possessed by nationalistic furor, grabbed one of the drunken Japanese officers and jumped off a cliff, sacrificing themselves for a small sweeter taste of Korean revenge (which I bet tastes like kimchi). The name “Igidae” refers to the “two Gisaengs”.

Skull, HaHa and Kantai Collection Collaboration - Busan Vacance, Part I: Busan Museum, Busan Nam-gu

The Busan Museum (Hanja: 釜山博物館) in 63 UN-Pyeonghwaro, Daeyeon-dong 948-1 beonji, Busan Nam-gu, offers seven regular exhibition rooms spread over three floors in addition to the Kiln Exhibition Hall, and the Outdoor Exhibition Hall. Opened in 1978, the museum has taken on a leading role in preserving traditional culture in Busan by obtaining a wealth of relics from strong excavation efforts, generous donations and purchases, and by meticulous research.

The museum was remodeled in 2002 along with the opening of Exhibition Hall 2. The wide array of relics ranges from the Prehistoric Age to the modern period. The Outdoor Exhibition Hall is home to precious pagodas, Buddhist statues, and monuments. There are over 6,000 items from excavations in Busan and the Gyeongnam area in addition to items that have been purchased, donated, and collected. Those relics reveal the important historical and cultural heritage of Busan. The museum is accessible by using Busan HüMetro Line 2 to Station 213: Daeyeon Station (Busan Korea Hospital).

Korean 6th Gear, Part I: General Motors Korea

GM Korea Bupyeong Plant in Incheon Bupyeong-gu
GM Korea Company (Korean: 한국지엠주식회사/Hankook GM Jusik-hoesa) is South Korea's second largest automobile manufacturer and a subsidiary of the General Motors Company. GM Korea's roots go back to the former Daewoo which was split from its parent company, Daewoo Group, in 2001. It has five manufacturing facilities in South Korea as well as a vehicle assembly facility in Vietnam. In addition, GM Korea provides region and brand-specific vehicle assembly kits for assembly by GM affiliates in China, the United States, Australia, Germany, India, and Brazil. In 2008, GM Korea built more than 1.9 million vehicles, including CKD products. It now produces vehicles and kits for Chevrolet, Holden, Opel/Vauxhall and Buick that are offered in more than 150 markets on six continents.

On January 20, 2011, General Motors announced that GM Daewoo would be renamed GM Korea "to reflect [Daewoo's] heightened status in [the] global operations of GM," effective March 2011. Most of the former Daewoo products were rechristened as Chevrolets. GM´s luxury division Cadillac is also available in South Korea.

GM Korea Boryeong Plant in Boryeong City, Southern Chungcheong Province
Specialized in Precision and Transmisson
GM Korea's roots go back to the remnants of the Korean War and Shinjin Motors, which launched its business by rebuilding scrapped US military vehicles. Shinjin Motor was first established as National Motor in 1937 in Incheon Bupyeong-gu, South Korea. After changing its name to Saenara Motor in 1962, Saenara Motor was bought by Shinjin Industrial in 1965, which changed its name to Shinjin Motor after establishing a partnership with Toyota. After Toyota's withdrawal in 1972, Shinjin Motor changed its name to GM Korea (GMK) in 1972 with General Motors purchasing a 50% stake in the company from Toyota in 1972; however GMK was renamed again in 1976 to Saehan Motors. Korean Development Bank (KDB), the company's creditor, took over management in 1976 as the company found itself unable to cope with competition from Hyundai and Kia. After the Daewoo Group gained control in 1982, the name was changed once more to Daewoo Motor. In the early 1990s the company started to expand heavily throughout the world. Until 1996 all Daewoo cars were based on GM-designed models. After the Asian financial crisis reached South Korea in 1997, Daewoo took over the troubled SUV manufacturer SsangYong in 1998, but ran into financial trouble and was forced to sell the company off in 2001 to GM affiliate SAIC.

GM Korea Gunsan Plant in Gunsan City, Northern Jeolla Province
In 2001, General Motors bought most of Daewoo Motor's assets to form GM Daewoo. The new company started operations on October 17, 2002, with GM and its partners Suzuki and SAIC holding a stake of 66.7% with investments of US$400 million. The GM holding was formally purchased by GM Holden Ltd which holds a seat on the board and is legally responsible for GM Daewoo. The remaining equity stake of 33.3% was held by Korea Development Bank and several other Korean creditors with investments of US$197 million. The deal did not include 15 plants, including Daewoo's oldest plant in Bupyeong-gu which is now operated under the name Incheon Motor Company as a supplier to GM Daewoo. In 2004, Tata Motors purchased Daewoo Truck from GM. In February 2005, GM invested US$49 million to raise its share in the company to 48.2%. In 2010, General Motors owned 82.9%, SAIC 9.9%, and the Daewoo Motor Creditors Committee the remaining 7.2%.

GM Korea has design, engineering, research & development facilities that are involved in development for various GM products, above all small-size cars. On November 25, 2003, the design center was relocated to the new two-story building at the Bupyeong-gu headquarters. The first car to be produced under the GM Daewoo nameplate was the 2002 Daewoo Lacetti, replacing the Nubira. This car was developed in South Korea under the Daewoo Motor era, but it gradually became a GM world car, sold under many different marques all around the globe. After a few years without any new cars to present, in 2005, GM Daewoo introduced the Holden-based Statesman luxury car replacing the discontinued Daewoo Chairman. The third generation of Matiz was introduced, refreshed by the GM Daewoo design team, and an evolution of the four-door Kalos appeared: the Gentra.

In early 2006, GM Daewoo presented Tosca, the replacement of the Magnus. GM Daewoo's official press releases says that Tosca is an acronym for "Tomorrow Standard Car". The end of the same year, GM Daewoo introduced the Winstorm, its first proper sport utility vehicle (SUV), which was, as the Lacetti, sold worldwide under different marques and names including Opel, Chevrolet, GMC and Holden, and previously Saturn before the demise of that brand in 2010. It featured a common rail Diesel engine for the first time in a Daewoo vehicle, in addition to regular four and six cylinder gasoline engines. The diesel engine design is licensed from the Italian engine maker VM Motori.

2007 saw the introduction of the Lacetti and Kalos hatchback facelift's wagon version, becoming the Gentra X. For 2008, GM Daewoo introduced the first Korean-branded roadster: the G2X sports car, a badge-engineered Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky which was based on the GM Kappa platform, and started to sell the Opel Antara under the name of Winstorm MaXX. The Statesman flagship was also replaced by the new Veritas which is now based on the Holden Caprice V.

Late 2008 and early 2009 were a major period for GM Daewoo with the introduction of the all-new Lacetti Premiere, which is based on the Chevrolet Cruze, a very important compact car for GM divisions worldwide. The newly rechristened third generation of the Matiz was added to the range in 2009 as the Chevrolet Spark.

As of the end of 2011, GM Korea also manufactures the Chevrolet models Malibu and Orlando, as well as the new standalone brand Alpheon.

GM Korea Changwon Plant in Changwon Seongsan-gu, Southern Gyeongsang Province

Current Lineup:
  • Alpheon - Buick LaCrosse (Executive car; 4-door sedan) - made in Incheon Bupyeong-gu
  • Chevrolet Aveo/Sonic (Supermini; 5-door hatchback, 4-door sedan) - made in Incheon Bupyeong-gu
  • Chevrolet Captiva (Mid-size SUV; 5-door wagon) - made in Incheon Bupyeong-gu
  • Chevrolet Camaro (Muscle car; 2-door coupé) - directly imported from Canada
  • Chevrolet Corvette (Sports car; 2-door coupé) - directly imported from the US
  • Chevrolet Cruze/Daewoo Lacetti Premiere (Compact car; 4-door sedan, 5-door hatchback and station wagon) - made in Gunsan
  • Chevrolet Malibu (Mid-size car; 4-door sedan) - made in Incheon Bupyeong-gu
  • Chevrolet Orlando (Compact MPV; 5-door wagon) - made in Gunsan
  • Chevrolet Spark (City car; 5-door hatchback) - made in Changwon Seongsan-gu
  • Chevrolet Trax/Opel Mokka (Subcompact SUV; 5-door wagon) - made in Incheon Bupyeong-gu

Kings of Joseon Dynasty, Part XI: King Jungjong (Yi Yeok) - Righteous King yet the Reformer of Joseonese Royal Cabinets

King Jungjong of Joseon, previously known as Grand Prince Jinseong (Hanja: 中宗王 [晉城大君]; Born: April 16th 1488 – Died: November 29th 1544, Reigned: 1506–1544), born Yi Yeok (이역/李懌), was the eleventh King of Joseon Dynasty. He was the only son of King Seongjong and Queen Jeonghyeon of Papyeong Yoon Clan. He succeeded his half-brother, King Yeonsan the Terrible - Yi Yung, because of the latter's tyrannical misrule, which culminated in a coup placing Jungjong on the throne.

On the day King Yeonsan was deposed, soldiers belonging to the coup leaders surrounded the house of his half-brother Grand Prince Jinseong. He was about to kill himself, thinking that King Yeonsan was finally going to kill him; but, dissuaded by his wife, Grand Prince Jinseong found himself becoming the eleventh king of Joseon Dynasty, or King Jungjong. Jungjong worked hard to wipe out the remnants of the King Yeonsan the Terrible era by reopening the Seonggyungwan, royal university, and Office of Censors, which criticizes inappropriate actions of the king. However, during the early days of his reign, Jungjong could not exert regal authority freely because those who put him on the throne exercised immense power. When the three main leaders of coup died of old age and natural causes eight years later, Jungjong began to assert his authority and carried out a large-scale reformation of the government with help of Jo Gwang-jo and other Sarim scholars.

Jo Gwang-jo strengthened local autonomy by establishing a self-governing system called Hyang'yak, promulgated Confucian writings by translating them in Korean hangul and distributing them widely, pursued a land reform that would distribute land more equally between the rich and poor, and introduced a supplementary system for recruiting talents to the government. He also believed that any talented people including slaves should be appointed as officials regardless of social status. As Inspector General, he enforced the laws strictly so that no official dared to receive a bribe or exploit the local populace during this time according to Annals of the Joseon Dynasty.

However, the reforms faced much opposition from conservative nobles who led the coup in 1506 that placed Jungjong in power. After four years of reformist agenda, Jungjong abruptly abandoned Jo Gwang-jo's programs because he either lost confidence in Jo's programs or feared that Jo was becoming too powerful. While Jungjong and Jo Gwang-jo shared the reformist agenda, Jungjong was also chiefly interested in solidifying royal authority whereas the latter was more concerned with neo-Confucian ideology, according to which those who rule must be a virtuous example to the rest. Finally in November 1519, when conservative officials slandered Jo Gwang-jo to be disloyal by writing "Jo will become the king" (주초위왕, 走肖爲王) with honey on leaves so that caterpillars left behind the same phrase as if in supernatural manifestation, Jungjong executed Jo Gwang-jo on charge of factionalism and exiled many of his followers, abruptly abandoning his reforms. This incident is known as the Third Literati Purge of 1519 or Gimyo massacre of scholars.

After Jo Gwang-jo's fall, King Jungjong never had the chance to rule on his own. His reign was marked by tumultuous struggle among various conservative factions, each of them backed by one of the King's queens or concubines. In 1524 the conservative factions collided with each other, one faction deposing the corrupt official Kim Anro. Kim Anro's followers took their revenge in 1527 by intriguing against Consort Park, one of the King's concubines, which led to her execution along with her son Prince Bokseong. Kim Anro came back to power and took revenge on his enemies until he was removed from government and then executed by the new queen's brothers, Yun Wonro and Yun Wonhyeong. However, Yun Im, ally of Kim Anro, was able to keep his nephew as crown prince since the new queen, Queen Munjeong, did not have a son until later. Injong would later be declared the crown prince. His uncle Yoon Im competed for power with the Queen Munejeong's brothers, Yoon Won-hyeong and Yoon Wonro. Many officials and scholars gathered around the two centers of power and each group developed into separate political factions. Yoon Im's faction became known as ‘Greater Yoon’ and the Yoon brothers' faction as ‘Lesser Yoon’. Their conflict led to the Fourth Literati Purge of 1545 after Jungjong's death.

As the dynasty weakened as a consequence of the continual internal conflict, foreign powers driven away by earlier monarchs returned with much greater effect. Wokou pirates and privateers often plundered southern coastal regions, while the Jurchens attacked the northern frontier numerous times, bleeding the army dry.

Jungjong was a good and able administrator especially during the reform period led by Jo Gwang-jo. However, historians judge that he was a fundamentally weak king due to circumstances of his ascension to throne, too easily swayed by both Jo Gwang-jo and conservative ministers who placed him on the throne. Sometimes he was seen as a tragic figure who never wanted to be a king but was forced to become one and depose his loving queen under the pressure of the coup leaders, who killed her father during the coup. More recently, some historians have suggested that Jungjong was not actually manipulated by his ministers and in-laws, but rather used them to get rid of one another to strengthen regal authority albeit not so successfully. In either case, his reign was marred by much confusion, violence, corruption, and court intrigues. He has been especially criticized for allowing the Third Literati Purge of 1519 and executing Jo Gwang-jo and others on framed charges.

In the early days of reform, Jungjong encouraged the publishing of many books; but publications declined dramatically after the literati purge in 1519. He also tried to improve self-government of local areas and succeeded in reforming the civil service examination. In the latter days of his reign, he realized the importance of defense and encouraged military service.

Jungjong is also known for appointing Jang Geum as one of his personal doctors. Never in Korean history had a woman become a royal physician. It is also worth noting that since Jungjong's reign, Korea has never had a female royal or presidential physician, even to this day.

King Jungjong was buried at the Royal Tomb of Jeongneung, part of the Royal Tomb of Seonjeongneung (선정릉/宣靖陵) in 1 Seolleung Avenue 100th Street/Seolleungno 100-gil, Samseong-dong 131-beonji, Seoul Gangnam-gu. He was posthumously known as King Jungjong Gonghoe Hwimun Somu Heum-in Seonghyo the Great (중종공희휘문소무흠인성효대왕/中宗恭僖徽文昭武欽仁誠孝大王).