22 June 2009

Trip to 안동 (Andong, South Korea) on 19-22 June 2009

Source and photos: http://horizons.free.fr/seikatsu/eng/memories/2009-06-20_kr-andong.htm

Entrance of 도산서원 (Dosan Seowon) I travelled to 안동 (Andong, South Korea) for the first time on 19 June 2009 to meet my local friend 장우 (Jangwoo), and hike nearby. With the rainy season just starting, the weather was capricious but–as usual–I was lucky for the hike. Nevertheless, the sky broke loose on departure day...

The first evening, we ate Korean food prepared by 장우 (Jangwoo)'s mother, strolled at the local dam, and played a few billiards games. On Saturday, we visited 도산서원 (Dosan Seowon), a famous academy displayed on ₩1.000 banknotes, then dodged rain drops to see the 12m-tall 제비원 (Jebiwon) statue of Buddha. While mom was asleep, I experienced my first Korean nightclub then a karaoke with 장우 (Jangwoo) and one of his friends. The nightclub confused me much as the dance floor was smaller than the space for tables and seats, and as the staff moved customers around, guiding girls to the tables of guys, while the huge stage alternatively featured disc jockeys, female musicians, and a male stripper! Bewildering :) Still energetic on Sunday, 장우 (Jangwoo), one of his cousins, his mom, and I hiked four hours among the trees of 주왕산 국립공원 (Juwangsan national park) under an oppressive sun; the highest peak called us but dark was coming too fast for a full climb.

The stay was pleasant and entertaining; despite our diverse activities, I strangely feel that I fully enjoyed and relaxed everywhere. Maybe there is a lesson for my life in the capital? Anyway, I plan another trip in the region to visit folk villages and attend the famous local mask festival held every year in September-October.

06 June 2009

Stroll at 국립서울현충원 (Seoul National Cemetery, South Korea) on 06 June 2009

Source and photos: http://horizons.free.fr/seikatsu/eng/memories/2009-06-06_kr-seoul.htm

Prayer before the tombs of 박정희 (PARK Chung-Hee) and 육영수 (YUK Young-soo) at 국립서울현충원 (Seoul National Cemetery) I first visited 국립서울현충원 (Seoul National Cemetery), located in 서울 (Seoul, South Korea), with 숙현 (Sook-Hyeon) on 06 June 2009 to observe Korean life on 현충일 (Memorial Day). Numerous civilians and soldiers walked the alleys of this huge cemetery under a bright sky; many paying homage to 육영수 (YUK Young-soo) and her husband, the ex-president 박정희 (PARK Chung-Hee), assassinated in 1974 and 1979. I was flabbergasted to see whole families gaily picnic among the tombs as I cannot imagine French people doing so but was told this is a normal way to commune with one's kin in South Korea. The vegetation and hills contributed to a peaceful and pleasant atmosphere while providing some intimacy.

After seeing atrocities displayed so gloomily (see Post 17 May 2009) at 독립기념관 (Independence Hall of Korea) in 천안 (Cheonan), this uplifting experience made me feel closer to the local population.