Ibike Korea People-to-People Program

   
 

   

Photo essay: Yangsu to Yeoju

   

Points of Interest: Rails-to-Trails facility, small towns, art, dams

    From Yangsu to Yeoju, the Hangang Trail became functional in 2013.  For most of the distance it stays on the north river bank. Parts are converted rail corridors, the use some rural roads, paths have been constructed to connect preexisting pieces and occasionally you will find yourself on a sidewalk. Mid-week it is a great experience.  On a sunny weekend or holiday it can be a nightmare with beginning cyclists wobbling along on rental bikes and lycra-cyclist weaving about as much on their carbon fiber bikes but at a much faster speed.
  Kigok Art Tunnel, installation, Han River bike trail, Okcheon, Korea Art installation along Han River bike trail, Yongdam, Korea. Bicycle sculpture, Yangpyeong, Korea Art installation along Han River bike trail, Yongdam, Korea. Yongdam Art Tunnel, Han River Bike Trail, Korea
The first section is on the old rail road bed and uses the old rail road tunnels. Several of the tunnels have been enhanced with art installations that feature arrays of light panels on the ceiling that flash and sequence in a variety of patterns. (Note: They were operational during a tour in 2014, but not in 2015)  There is also a variety of art along the trail.  Much of it is bicycle themed.

South of Yangpyeong the route follows the shoreline, weaves through villages and pass a variety of creative amusements.
 

  Memorial to Decorated Veterans, Yangpyeong, Korea This memorial (left) is dedicated to decorated veterans of the Korean War. On the monument are 292 names of persons who, among those veterans and patriots, resided in Yangpyeong-gun. The monument was "erected to inspire their noble patriotism and spirit of self-sacrifice in all generations to come and encourage them to cultivate a sense of national security and a spirit of love of their country Art bench / art cube, Hangang Trail, Yangpyeong, Korea and people, by showing them a good example of defending against any threat to their country's security and the world's peace and freedom."

In the adjacent park is a playful installation from 2010 call "Art Bench / Art Cube."

  Han River, Yangpyeong, Korea Bicycle mural, water tower, Han River Trail, Angdeok-gil, Yangpyeong, KoreaThe islands (left) are where the Heugcheon (Black River) flows into the Hangang (river), that flows across the top of the photo, south of Yangpyeong.

Another kilometer south, in Angdeok-gil, the water tower has been decorated with a mural of bicyclists. The route is away from the river and on village roads at this point. At least on the weekend the residents probably see far more bicycle traffic than motor vehicles. Hopefully they find it a pleasant addition to rural life.

  Ipobo (wier), Namhangang (river), Korea

Ipobo (wier), Namhangang (river), Korea

Ipobo (wier), Namhangang (river), KoreaOf Ipo-bo (wier), the National Tourism website says, "Seeking to reflect the harmony of man and nature through water, the weir was built in the shape of an egret rising up into the sky."

Ipo-bo (weir) was new in 2011, a part of the Four Rivers Project. The project includes the Han River (Korea), Nakdong River, Geum River and Yeongsan River. The primary goal of the "restoration" project is to provide or improve water security, flood control and the ecosystem's vitality. The primary activities was building dams and levies. (If restoration conjures up images of a natural, free-flowing river this was the antithesis, but we digress.)

observation center at Ipo-bo, Hangang, KoreaThe observation center at Ipo-bo looks like a ship -- even more so and a bit mysterious when shrouded in the morning mist.

The Four Rivers Project was first announced as part of the “Green New Deal” policy launched in January 2009. Most of the work is suppose to be completed by 2012. For the big earth reshaping projects; dam construction, river bottom shoveling and dredging, channelization of the river banks, it is debatable whether the initiative is more destructive or constructive for the environment.

  Ipo-bo area, Hangang Trail, Korea Ipo-bo area, Hangang Trail, KoreaBut the impact of the ribbon of environmental-friendly upland non-motorized trail facility is not in doubt.  For walkers, roller-bladers, and the previously almost not existent long distance bicyclists, it is a game changer. The new trail infrastructure has opened up beautiful recreational opportunities from one end of the country to the other.
  Yeoju-bo (weir), Hangang Trail, Korea

Sotae, wooden birds, Hangang Trail, KoreaYeoju-bo (weir) is another of the Four Rivers Projects.

"So-tae," wooden birds on poles.  Traditionally these marked the boundaries of a village and were for good luck.  Contemporarily the are used more as decorative art, as they are here.

  Rock with Chinese poetry, Han River Trail, Yeosu, Korea This rock (left), a couple kilometers north of Yeoju, is in Neungseo-myeon, Wangdae-ri.  It marks Ipahm, one of the "Eight Most Picturesque Scenes of Yeoju." The first section of the engraving says Ipahm was marked on Chinese maps (16th C by the Ming Dynasty) and Korean maps (18th C, during the Chosun Dynasty). A local maps printed in 1872, of a larger scale, marked this rock as ‘笠巖’ (a conical hat). The next section of text refers to some local officials and notable citizens at the time. The last sections describes the team that supervised the engraving in the late autumn of 1870.
   

Just as you reach Yeoju there is a turn to the very interesting Royal Tombs at Yeongneung (click to visit).

  Replicas of tradition river boats on the Han River Though the Four Rivers Project massively increased it, it was not the first damming and blocking of the river. Because of flooding in Seoul they started to build flood control dams along the Han River in the 1960's the waterway was consequently blocked to river boat commerce and the commercial economies of the riverside village in the interior were forever changed. Replicas of a tradition river boat on the Hangang (river)

Now-a-days about the only boats on the river are replicas of the old boats that are now equipped with motors. They are used for the new economy of  "cultural tourism". Yeoju is one of the locations you take a river curise. (Given the population and the amount of water, personal speed boats and jet skis are relatively rare.)

  Riverside bike trail, Yeoju, South Korea bicycle bridge, Yeoju, South KoreaOne of the first sections of the National Bikeway was built in Yeoju in 2011. It hugs the south bank of the river through town.  In the middle of Yeoju the riverside trail ends and there is a pig tail viaduct which brings users to street level and into town. The National Bikeway system continues south on sidewalks and there is a bridge across the river which gives access to rural roads that can also be used to head south and east.
  Daerosa Stele, Yeoju, Korea Gate, Daerosa, Yeoju, Korea Pavilion, Daerosa, Yeoju, Korea Daerosa, Yeoju, KoreaLocated near the river, in the middle of old Yeoju, is Daerosa.  It was built in 1785 on the instructions of King Jeongjo, to honors Song Siyeol (1607-89). Song was a leading Confucian scholar and meritorious government official of the mid-Joseon period (1392-1910). He is enshrined here. The King wrote the signboard himself. The stele (left) records the history of Daerosa, On the back are inscribed the epitaph written by King Jeongjo. In 1873, King Gojong renamed the shrine Ganghansa, but currently is again Daerosa.
  Pottery, Yeoju, pottery capital of Korea Pottery, Yeoju, pottery capital of Korea Pottery, Yeoju, pottery capital of Korea Pottery, Yeoju, pottery capital of Korea Pottery, Yeoju, pottery capital of Korea
  Pottery, Yeoju, pottery capital of Korea Pottery, Yeoju, pottery capital of KoreaYeoju claims to be the pottery capital of Korea. There are no shortage of towns that produce a lot of pottery in Korea, but in Yeoju the shops seem to be bigger and they stretch further down the road, so we will appreciate the photo opportunities that it creates and let the locals bask in the glory of the accolade.
  Yeoju shopping district at night, Korea Yeoju shopping district at night, Korea Baskin and Robins menu in KoreanYeoju's shopping district is simple and relatively non-distinctive by day, but at night it is bathed in light and sparkles, and fills with people -- many of the young, but also young families.

Among the stores that is open late for those wandering in the evenings fresher air is Baskin and Robins.

Of some distinction, Yeoju must have one of the highest concentration of Gimbap restaurants in the country. Within four blocks there are at least four of these fast food establishments..

   
 

Yangsu Chungju

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