Ibike Korea People-to-People Program



Photo essay: Sangju to Gimcheon


Sangju to Gimcheon (34mi, 55km) Beautiful rolling countryside and farmland.
Points of Interest:  beautiful hills, rivers and valleys, locations significant in the Korean War

  Heritage house, Korea Heritage house, KoreaJust out for a morning ride, and here is a house that is more than 400 years old!  This house was built in 1601 by Jo Jeong (1555-1636), general of the militia during the Japanese invasion, 1592. It was moved to the present site in 1661. Originally, the complex of buildings had 40 bays (space between two columns).  Currently, the main building, guest house and a building for ancestral ceremonies remain.
  rice farm, Korea Grape orchard, Koera Persimmon orchard, KoreaThe vast and intensive agriculture continued. Between the rearranging of the terracing, the mountains and the village settings the view change every few hundred meters, mile after mile.  Amongst the group we started to have jokes about how many photos we took of rice fields.  We wanted to remember them all. New in this section was large orchards of persimmons and grapes.
  Primary school, Korea Statue of studens at primary school, KoreaPoking around in a village during a snack stop, there was a school across the street.  Schools are common.  South Korea has a 98% literacy rate.  And school architecture is not distinctive -- it seems like most rural primary schools are constructed from the same architectural drawing.  But tucked up under the trees next to the gate of this school was a delightful sculpture of students.  I should check to see if there is art next to the gates of other schools.
  colorful whirly-birds, Korea The next section of the route was generally flat farm land, with the occasional lake/reservoir, village or small town.  One thing that caught my eye was a fanciful park, that amount other things, was lined with colorful whirly-birds.
  Gimcheon recycling center At the edge of Gimcheon we passed the recycling center. This brings into focus how remarkably trash free the country is.  We didn't see landfills.  We didn't see trash left out for pick-up.  There is no trash along the road sides. Public trash cans are common, but they are never full.  In general the economy seems to function at a high level without creating a lot of trash, and that which it does create is disposed of stealthly.
  Gimcheon market

Cabbage, Gimcheon market

Kimchi, Gimcheon market Dried fish, Gimcheon market Mushrooms, street vendor, Gimcheon market Vegetables, street vendor, Gimcheon market

It was pretty quiet on the afternoon wander through this market.  A variety of shops were open, but there weren't many shoppers. Certainly the staples were available: kimchi, dried fish and mushrooms.

It may have been the time of day because traffic on main street was also light.  The traffic picked up at rush-hour.

  Puma and Adidas store, Gimcheon Bakery, Gimcheon, Korea Shops in downtown GimcheonThe sidewalk traffic was much heavier out on the main street. Like in most decent size towns in Korea, consumers have have access to a variety of international product.  Gimcheon has shops Puma, Adidas, Nike, North Face and a dozen other international manufacturers. Almost every block in the central city had a boutique bakery as well.  I would venture to say that the amount of bread and sugar in the average Korean diet is increasing.
  macDonald's delivery scooters, Korea

School girls, Gimcheon

Railway station yard, GimcheonOn the topic of transport modality, Gimcheon has several: MacDonald's delivers orders by motor scooters. 

The train tracks run through the center of town and the rail yard is active with trains passing through.

In the afternoon the sidewalks are crowded -- largely with groups of school girls in uniform.  It seems likely that there are some girls schools in the area.  Woman bicyclists, GimcheonThe merchants are happy because they don't seem shy about going into the shop and spending money.

Bicycling by locals is rare, but there were a few.

  Light fixtures in the parking lot of the train station, Gimcheon Street scene of a side street, Gimcheon Here are a couple of additional street scenes:

The light fixtures in the parking lot of the train station (left).

Looking down a side street across from the train station (right).

  Historical Note: The Battle of Daegu: Five divisions of North Korean army were at Waewan, on the west side of the Nakdong River, 20km northwest of Daegu, in August, 1950. The North Koreans hoped to pierce the Allies defensive perimeter, capture Deagu and continue on to Busan. The line was held by the US 1st Calvary Division. After another North Korean offensive in Sept, the US 1st Calvary counter-attacked on Sept 16 and reversed the course of the war, again. By September 23rd the Allies had reached Sangju, more than 50 kilometers to to the north -- as the crow flies.

The US 24th infantry crossed the Nakdong River on Sept 19, headed west and retook Gimcheon Sept 25. Two months before this, July 26-29, not far from here, near Nogeun-ri, Hwanggan-myeon, Yeongdong County, Chungcheongbuk-do (25km northwest of Gimcheon), the US army is accused of committing a major atrocity of the war, the No Gun Ri Massacre. Estimates of the dead have ranged from dozens to 500 South Korean civilians refugees -- mostly women and children.


Sangju Goryeong

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