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

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Take Fivers: Comparison Between Thomas Ahn Jung-geun and Claus von Stauffenberg

Additional info: The relatives of these heroes, Paul Ahn Choon-saeng (nephew of Thomas Ahn) and Berthold Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (son of Herr Claus) appointed to the highest army rank of Lieutenant General of ROK Army and Major General of Bundeswehr Heer respectively.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Bulgwang Stream, Seoul Eunpyeong-gu: Dramatic Transformation of one of the Most Polluted Stream in Seoul

Bulgwang Stream (Hanja/Romanization/English: 佛光川/Bulgwang-cheon/The Stream of Enlightened Buddha) is a stream which spans 9.21 km long across three affluent districts in Upper Han River Sector of Seoul: Eunpyeong-gu, Mapo-gu and Seodaemun-gu. Bulgwangcheon is originated at the Precinct of Bulgwang-dong, Seoul Eunpyeong-gu where the temple of Bulgwangsa is located adjacently to the stream. It is a branch river of Hongjecheon (Hongje Stream), one of the branches of Han River.

Bulgwangcheon is previously notable as one of the polluted river in Seoul because there are many garbage floating on the river which produce bad smell. Fortunately, the stream was completely renovated for the 2002 World Cup, and 2007 saw the launch of the Public Art Project, creating dazzling spectacles and street arts along sections of the stream.

With a bike path from Bulgwangcheon, flowing alongside Digital Media City Station in Seoul Mapo-gu, to the Han River, there is good place to take a walk along a riverbank. At the public bike rental stations operated by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, you can rent a bicycle.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Aegibong Peak, Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province: The place where you required a Passport to access this RED Zone.

Aegibong Peak (Hanja: 愛妓峰) which is located at 139 Peace Parkway/PyeonghwaGongwonno, Gageum-ri san 59-13 beonji, Haseong-myeon, Gimpo City, Gyeonggi Province - about an hour’s drive from the downtown Gimpo. The mountain is where North and South Korea engaged in a fierce battle at the end of the Korean War; after the battle, Korea was divided into two nations. Since the peak is still a restricted area, visitors must present their passport in order to be admitted. From the peak, an open view of North Korean territory unfolds below and visitors can see South Korean territory as far as Mount Songhak in Southern Chungcheong. 

Even before the Korean War, Aegibong carried much historical significance as the setting of the sad love story between the governor of Pyongyang and his mistress. The two lovers were separated during the Byeongja Chinese-Qing Second Invasion a.k.a Byeongja Horan/병자호란 in 1636 and the peak (‘Ae, 애’ means love, ‘gi, 기’ mistress in Korean) was named in honor of their love. 

In 1968, president Park Chung-hee visited the peak and wrote a note by hand, saying the mistress' pain of being separated from her lover because of the war was much like those of families separated by the division of the two Koreas. The president’s writing was carved in a tablet and placed at the peak, where separated families still come every thanksgiving to perform an ancestral ritual and wish for reunification. 

Currently, the observatory at the peak is used for security training. Within the observatory is Mangbaedan Altar, which is where those originally from North Korea perform rites honoring ancestors in the North. Every year, there is a giant tree at Christmas and large lamps on Buddha’s birthday that are lit up here, their lights so big and bright that the even shine onto North Korean soil. The observatory also contains a naval war monument that commemorates naval personnel lost in battle. 

At the foot of the mountain, Han River empties into the ocean along the west coast, which is expressed by the term 'Jogang (조강)‘ (‘grandfather river’ in Korean). The scenery of the river with its boats, surrounding islands, and converging estuaries creates a unique and cozy scene that seems to be in harmony with the image of a kindly grandfather. 

1) Only those traveling by car will be admitted.
**Entrance will not be granted to those traveling on foot or by bike.
2) All visitors are required to show their passport.
**Korea citizens may show their government-issued ID instead of their passport.
3) Visitors must be fluent in Korean or accompanied by someone who can speak Korean fluently.
4) Fill in the tour request form and submit it to the office at the entrance.
**All visitors must show ID; choose 1 person to fill out the form on behalf of your party.

1) View of North Korean territory through telescope
2) Naval War Monument
3) Navy promotion video
4) Lecture on Aegibong (reservations required)

Namo Palbeon Daebosal, Part XXV: Beopgwangsa, Pohang Buk-gu, Northern Gyeongsang

The official mascots of Pohang City are bouncing on Hiryuu's BIG Boobies.
Beopgwangsa Temple (Hanja: 法廣寺) is located at the foot of Mount Bihak in 290 SangEup Street/SangEup-gil, SangEup-ri 875-beonji, Singwang-myeon, Pohang Buk-gu, Northern Gyeongsang Province. It was originally built during the reign of King Jinpyeong (579-631) of the Silla Kingdom by Great Monk Wonhyo upon the order of the king. Unfortunately, all of its original structures were burnt during the Japanese Imjin Invasions (1592-1598). There is also a stele erected during the reign of King Yeongjo of Joseon Dynasty (r.1724-1776) to commemorate repairs on the sarira pagoda, which indicates the temple remained important until that time.

The temple used to be large measuring 525 kan (kan is a traditional measurement of distance between two columns, about 1.8 meters), but most of its buildings burned down again in a fire in 1863. The current buildings were rebuilt in 1952. The site of the old temple is designated as Historical Site no. 493. Some of the remaining relics are a three-story pagoda, Bulsangyeonhwadaejwa/불상연화대좌 (Buddha on a lotus stand), and a twin Ssanggwibu/쌍귀부 (turtle-shaped stone base of a monument).

Monday, 8 December 2014

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Hongneung Arboretum, Seoul Dongdaemun-gu: Former Imperial Tomb of Empress Myeongseong of Yeoheung Min Clan now flourished with Arbors.

Hongneung Arboretum (Hanja: 洪陵樹木園) in 57 Hoegi Avenue/Hoegi-ro, Cheongnyangni 2-dong 207-beonji, Seoul Dongdaemun-gu is the first generation arboretum of Korea. It was established in 1922 when experiment forests were built on Hongneung burial model, which is the former imperial tomb of Empress Myeongseong of Yeoheung Min Clan - an empress who assassinated by Japanese Agents at Okhoru Pavilion, Gyeongbok Palace, Seoul Jongno-gu in 1895. 

On the 780 square meters area southwest of Mt. Cheonjang, there are 9 gardens such as a garden of conifers, a garden of broadleaf trees and an ornamental garden, 3 botanical gardens with edible & medicinal plants garden, an aquatic garden and a wetland garden. There are 6 resting places as well. 

Hongneung Arboretum has beautiful scenery for every season. The garden of broadleaf trees behind the main building is the one that shows the change of season most dramatically. The hundreds of broadleaf trees appear in their best in autumn. It is good for nature education walks in the arboretum because of good explanations on nameplates of species and characteristics of trees. There are also many things to see at the Forest Science Exhibition Hall which provides visitors with knowledge and information of the value of forests, forestry, and the forest industry. The building itself is an exhibition because the hall is made of Korean wood. Inside, there are three general exhibition rooms, a regular exhibit hall, a planning exhibit hall, and a special exhibit hall. 

You may look around from Garden 1 to Garden 9 in regular order or take the course from Garden 2, pass the Forest Science Exhibition Hall to the mountain ridge ending at Garden 1. Note that it takes approximately 3 hours whichever course you may take.

The arboretum is accessible by using SMRT Line 6 to Station 640: Korea University-Jongam Station (고려대역 [종암]/高麗大驛 [鐘岩]/GoryeoDae-yeok [Jong-am]) on the western side and KORAIL Jung-ang Line and Seoul Metro Line 1 to Station K118/123: Hoegi Station on the eastern side.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Yanghwajin Foreigners' Cemetery, Seoul Mapo-gu: The Foreigners' Final Voyage in Korea

Yanghwajin Foreigners' Cemetery (Hanja: 楊花津外國人宣敎師墓園), also known as the Hapjeong-dong International Cemetery, is a cemetery overlooking the Han River, located at 46 Yanghwajin Lane/Yanghwajin-gil, Hapjeong-dong 144-beonji, Seoul Mapo-gu. Designated in 1890 as a site for foreign missionaries by Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu, the site is currently open to the public from 9:00am to 6:00pm and is located next to Jeoldusan Martyr's Shrine. It is estimated that approximately 30,000 Koreans and 500 foreigners visit every year.

The first person buried in Yanghwajin Foreign Missionary Cemetery was Dr. John Heron, the second director of Gwanghyewon Hospital. He passed away at the age of 34 from dysentery while treating patients in 1890. Due to the time of his death in late July, it proved impossible to move Heron's body to Jemulpo Foreigners' Cemetery in present-day Incheon Metropole, so it was decided to bury him in Yanghwajin. After Dr. Heron, other foreign missionaries and educators who passed away in Korea were also laid to rest in the Yanghwajin cemetery.

Dr. Horace Allen obtained the land rights of the bluff overlooking the Han River and called it Yanghwajin; so named for an old ferry crossing that once existed nearby. The site for the cemetery already had historical significance: in 1839, a number of French Catholic missionaries were put to death there and in 1866, a number of Korean Catholics were also killed in a mass execution on the nearby riverbank at Saenamteo.

The cemetery was also a victim of close quarters combat during the Korean War and war damage to many of the grave markers is quite evident. Attempts to repair the fractured markers are minimal at the request of community members.

Officially maintained by members of the Kyungsung European-American Cemetery Association, the 14,000 square meter (4000 Pyeong) grounds have been unofficially taken care by foreign diplomats, businessmen, volunteer groundskeepers and missionaries since its founding.

The “100th Anniversary Memorial Church” was established in Yanghwajin by the “Council for the 100th Anniversary of the Korean Church” to commemorate a century of missionary work in Korea. The church was built in a shape and style which reflects and blends well with the style of the cemetery.

Many of the foreigners who have contributed to the story of modern Korean history are buried in the Yanghwajin cemetery, such as Thomas Bethell, the founder of Daehan Maeil Sinbo (Newspaper); Mary Scranton, the founder of Ewha Hakdang (a mission school for girls, now Ewha Women’s University); and Henry Appenzeller, the founder of Chungdong First Methodist Church. Each grave and headstone has a unique appearance creating a distinctive and foreign atmosphere. Over 500 foreigners are buried here including Homer Hulbert, a supporter of Korean independence from Japan and highly respected among Koreans. The epitaph of Hulbert shows his great affection for Korea. It reads, “I would rather be buried in Korea than in Westminster Abbey.” Strolling around the path between the graves gives a feeling of solemnity. 

Originally built for the members of the foreign missionary community in Seoul, the Kyungsung European-American Cemetery Association maintained the grounds until a 1961 decree by President Park Chung-hee stating that foreigners were not allowed to own land. The grounds technically belonged to no one until the city of Seoul designated it a public park in 1965. In 1968, when the South Korean government passed a law requiring foreigners to register all land, the cemetery was curiously never officially registered. In 1985, a committee called the Council for the 100th Anniversary of the Korean Church was asked by Horace Grant Underwood III to register the cemetery on behalf of the Seoul Union Church with the understanding that the Seoul Union Church would be the unofficial caretakers. The committee agreed and a year later built a joint-use chapel nearby called the Memorial Chapel.

In 2005, the predominantly foreign congregation of the Seoul Union Church began sharing the Memorial Chapel with a Korean congregation composed of the former 100th Anniversary Memorial Church Committee. The two congregations coexisted amicably until the death of Dr. Horace Grant Underwood III in 2004. However, the two congregations then began to disagree about proper caretaking responsibilities as well as who officially takes care of the grounds. On August 5, 2007, the Seoul Union Church was officially removed from the grounds including the chapel. The church, cemetery and adjacent museum are since the property of the Memorial Church.

Conflicting reports from the Memorial Church further claim that some interments would be disinterred in the future Memorial church leader Lee Jae-chul referred to the change in cemetery caretakership similar to the "Chinese retaking Hong Kong".

Notable Foreigners who interred there:
  • Homer Hulbert (1863–1949) American missionary and journalist whose headstone proclaims "I would rather be buried in Korea than in Westminster Abbey."
  • Ernest Bethell (1872–1909) founder of Daehan Maeil Sinbo who died after being imprisoned by the Japanese army for exposing abuses against Korean civilians. Years after soldiers erased a defiant challenge to the Imperial Army on Bethell's grave marker, the words were replaced by officials from the Seoul Union Church.
  • Horace Grant Underwood (1859–1916) founder of the Seoul YMCA, Saemunan Presbyterian Church and what eventually became Yonsei University
  • Henry Gerhard Appenzeller (1858–1902) (cenotaph) who greatly contributed to the foundation of Pai Chai University
  • Douglas B. Avison (1893–1952) who was a founder of Severance Hospital.
  • Clarence Ridgeby Greathouse (1843–1899) supervisor to 1895 trial of the murder of Empress Myeongseong of Yeoheung Min Clan
  • Brevet Brigadier General Charles W. Le Gendre (1830–1899) French-born American general, diplomat and advisor to Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu from 1890 to 1899.
  • Albert Wilder "Bruce" Taylor (1875–1948) American gold mining executive and UPA (later UPI) correspondent, lived in Korea for the majority of his life with his wife, Mary Linley Taylor. He was actively involved in the Korean independence movement and infamously photographed Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu's funeral procession.

Parks around Han River in Seoul, Part XI: Nanji Hangang Park

As part of the Hangang Renaissance project, Nanji Hangang Park (Hanja: 蘭芝漢江公園) transformed into an eco-friendly theme park that should attract visitors from around the world. Located at 162 Hangang-Nanji Avenue/HangangNanji-ro, Sangam-dong 487-116 beonji, Seoul Mapo-gu, near to Seoul Sang-am World Cup Stadium - Nanji Hangang Park has recently been opened in commemoration of the new millennium as well as the first FIFA World Cup in Asia, together with Japan. This park which used as the former landfill in the past is equipped with various facilities for leisure let alone Ecological Wetlands as the park in the 21st century. 

The park consists of camping grounds, ferry cruise piers and waterfront plaza in the higher area and a Multifunctional pasture and lawn plaza at the center and Ecological Wetlands in the lower area. With camping grounds, lawn plaza, Korea traditional archery field and Parking lot, Nanji Park provides almost every need for the leisure activities of the citizens.

The theme of the park is energy conservation. In the summer months there is an outdoor swimming pool right on the banks of the Han River. Nanji Hangang Park is a haven for sports enthusiasts. There is a football field, 2 basketball courts, a volleyball court, 5 badminton courts, a swimming pool, exercise facilities, a  Korean traditional archery field, a bike trail / bike rental and a whole range of water activities including water skiing and wind surfing. Also there is a large camping area available with BBQ sets, toilets and showers, free of charge for campers.

The Park will feature the Nanji Eco-Wetland, Nanji Campground and a marina. Also, there will be a specially designed area where visitors can enjoy extreme sports such as inline skating and BMX. A riverside swimming pool, the Water Plaza, and a riverside stage will be set up as well. Visitors will be able to relax and take a leisurely stroll around the park. The park is accessible by using SMRT Line 6, either by stopping at Station 620: Seoul Mapo-gu Office Station or Station 619: World Cup Stadium-Seongsan Station.

Parks around Han River in Seoul, Part X: Mangwon Hangang Park

Located in northern end of the riverside between Yanghwa Bridge and Seongsan Bridge, Mangwon Hangang Park (Hanja: 望遠漢江公園) which stretches 8.8 km is located at 467 Maponaru Street/Maponaru-gil, Mangwon 1-dong 205-4 beonji, Seoul Mapo-gu. With a lawn in the riverside along Gangbyeon Highway, it gives a broad view. 

It offers lush grass perfect for picnics and promenades. Since it’s located close to the World Cup Stadium, this spacious park is often full of residents and visitors. There is a good recreational area like a walk path and various water sports going on the river such as wind surfing, water skiing, and motor boating. And there are Mangwonjeong Pavilion, Jeoldusanseongji (the site of the Jeoldu mountain fortress wall) and Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine near by. 

This place a particular to be a strategically important area in the northwest region of Seoul along with the Nanji Hangang Park that will be connected to the Seoul Sang-am World Cup Main Stadium, Gyeong-in canal, and the Incheon International Airport. The park is accessible by using SMRT Line 6 to Station 621: Mangwon.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, Part XII: Bukseoporu Blockhouse

Bukseoporu or Northwestern Blockhouse (Hanja: 北西砲樓) in Suwon Hwaseong Fortress is located adjacent to Bukseojeokdae Guard Platform. Made from black bricks, it is divided into three storeys internally by boards. The blockhouse is a part of Jangan Park (장안공원/長安公園), located at Suwon Paldal-gu

Firearms were secreted on these floors. The roof is unusual in design, being gabled on the inner side (towards the wall) and angled to the outer side (away from the wall). Bukseoporu Blockhouse consists of a wooden structure built above a chiseong or square turret.

There are five sentry posts at the Fortress. The posts are all constructed of brick and are positioned on turrets that protrude beyond the fortress walls. This position allowed for easy attacks by artillery on enemies below. The blockhouse is located between Janganmun Gate and Hwaseomun Gate.

By referring Daum Maps (다음지도), the blockhouse is located at Suwon Paldal-gu and Suwon Jangan-gu district border. The construction of the blockhouse was completed on September 24, 1794, 18th Reigning Year of King Jeongjo the Great of Joseon Dynasty.