Ibike Korea People-to-People Program

 

Photo essay: West Coast, South Korea -
Mokpo, Hampyeong, Youngsan, Beopseong

Mokpo to Buan: We touch coastline, see fishing village and breath sea air.
Points of Interest:  Hampyeong, Yeomsan Christian Memorial Tower, Youngsan Holy Land, Birthplace of Baekje Buddhism

     
West coast of Korea, north of Mokpo Staying on the mainland, it takes miles to get out of Mokpo. Once you escape the urban vortex the rural landscape quickly dominates and indication of the beauty of the West Coast multiply.

There are wonderful views of the sea, but views of the open ocean are broken up by archipelagos of hundreds of islands.

Cleaning sesame seeds, Mokpo, Korea Sunrise, Hampeong, KoreaThe ocean is plied by fishermen, some of the tide flats are harvested for clams and the upland areas are utilized for agriculture.

This woman is cleaning her sesame seed (perilla) harvest (left).

If you are awake in time you might catch a spectacular sunrise (right).

Muan International Airport, KoreaIn close proximity to each other are dirt roads (left), and Muan International Airport (right).
Statue of troubadours with a cow, Hampyeong, Korea Muan Hodam Aerospace Exhibition, Sanchang-ri, Mongtan-myeon, Muan-gun,  KoreaAt the south entrance to Hampyeong is an interest statue that seems to be some troubadours with a cow. I was not able to figure out what is connects to.

Seemingly similarly random is the Muan Hodam Aerospace Exhibition, with an exhibition hall and a collection of a dozen military aircraft on display, tucked up on a hillside near Sanchang-ri, Mongtan-myeon, Muan-gun. There are jets, a C-123K transport planes and helicopters in the yard. Some of the aircraft are from the Soviet Union and North Korea. The site is nowhere near and air field or a battle site. Monument, Sanchang-ri, Mongtan-myeon, Muan-gun,  Korea

The story is it site was developed by former Air Force chief of staff Ok Man-ho for his hometown to nurture the children's love and dreams for aircraft.

Also in Sanchang is a well cared for monument in front of some traditional buildings, but it is all in Chinese (?) and not otherwise signed.

Hampyeong River Trail, Korea Bridge over the Hampyeong River, KoreaThe Hampyeong River flows past Hampyeong and into the Yeongsan River about 45km north of Mokpo, but only about 6km from the coastline.  For most of the 10km from the town to the confluence, the adjacent dikes has been prepared as riverside recreation trails. From the top of the dike the view is river on one side and farmland on the other.

The decoration on the guard rail for one of the bridges over the river is a happy cow theme.

Hampyeong River Trail, Korea Hampyeong River Trail, Korea Rice harvest, Hampyeong, Korea Pavilion with a crane on top, Hampyeong, Korea.

Solar Voltaic System, Hampyeong, Korea

Solar Voltaic System, Hampyeong, Korea Swan boats on dry land, Hampyeong, KoeraThe area adjacent to the river is primarily rural farm land, but over one field a large solar voltaic systems has been installed -- probably at least 50 kwh -- and swan boats have a dryland resting place, waiting for rescue -- they have been there a several years.

2012, Expo Park, Hampyeong, Korea

Butterfly decoratoin, Hampyeong, Korea2012, Expo Park, Hampyeong, Korea2012, Expo Park, Hampyeong, KoreaHampyeong's Expo Park was built in 2012.  It hosts at least two major annual events:

The park hosts an annual Butterfly Festival in late April-early May. Not surprisingly, the butterfly is the symbol of the town and it appears in all kinds of locations, mediums and forms around town. A few insects like ladybugs, dung beetles and praying mantis also gets some visibility.

In late October-early November there is also a Chrysanthemum Festival in Hampyeong so a few Chrysanthemum-ish flowers also sneak into a few of the decorations.

Butterfly decoratoin, Hampyeong, Korea Bug decoratoin, Hampyeong, Korea Butterfly and bug decoratoin, Hampyeong, Korea Butterfly decoratoin, Hampyeong, Korea Butterfly decoratoin, Hampyeong, Korea

Grocery store, Hampyeong, KoreaButterfly and bug decorations appear in so many variation throughout the town that it starts to feel a little over done, but overexposure and over-branding are not conditions that theme obsessed Koreans would recognize.

To be fair, it is not all frou-frou butterflies in Hampyeong: There is a nice city center with health care, schools, restaurants, municipal offices, and well stocked retail stores (right).

Lee Jai-hyeok House, Hampyeong, Korea Farmland, Hampyeong-gun, Korea

The Lee Jai-hyeok heritage house is near the center of Hampyeong.  It was built by Lee dong-beom (1869-1940) of the Hampyeong Lee clan. He originally built two houses consisting of inner quarters and a Yukmo-jeong pavilion, but both were demolished to make way for a sarangchea (guest’s quarters) and a munganchea (servant’s quarters). Records reveal that the guest quarters was built in 1917, and the servants quarters, in 1929. The lore of the house says that once  a Mr. Kim-gu kept himself out of sight for some time in a cave beneath the Yukmo-jeong during the day, and in a loft over the inner quarters during the night

Tunnel mural, Hampyeong, Korea The level of detail on road project is a continual sources of amazement and delight:

Decorated retaining wall, Muan, KoreaThe complete interior of a tunnel at the edge of Hampyeong is covered with a cheerful mural (left).

On a road through the coastal hills a retaining wall is decorated with colored dots in random order (right). The colored pieces might be some kind of nut cover or bolt cover, but someone thought to color them and install them in a playful way.

Jupo Road, Hampyeong Bay, Sonbul-myeon, South Korea Hampyeong Bay, KoreaHeading west, this shoreline area is known for Hampyeong’s ‘Haesujjim’, a Field of ripe rice ready for harvesting, Korea medical treatment method that has been widely used ever since the 1800’s. Nutrients are added to seawater, which is then heated for bathing, creating a “Haesujjim (seawater bath)” that combines the benefits of hot springs and bathing. This is especially popular among housewives since it is demonstrated to be an effective treatment for neuralgia, post childbirth discomfort, arthritis, and dermatitis.
Field of ripe rice ready for harvesting, Korea Ripe rice, Korea Small rice harvester, KoreaThe rice is ready.  There is a tradition that rice is not cut until after Chuseok, a harvest festival celebrated similar to North American thanksgiving. Chuseok is celebrated during the full moon that occurs from the second week of September to the first week of October.
Fishing boat, Seoldohang Port, Bongnam-ri, Yeomsan-myeon, Korea

Fishing boat, Seoldohang Port, Bongnam-ri, Yeomsan-myeon, KoreaThe economic foundation of Seoldohang Port, Bongnam-ri, Yeomsan-myeon, is fishing. The fishing boats and fish market are very active and draw a crowd of buyers.

The market building has been designed to resemble a boat (far right).

Fishing boat, Seoldohang Port, Bongnam-ri, Yeomsan-myeon, Korea Fish market, Seoldohang Port, Bongnam-ri, Yeomsan-myeon, Korea Fish market, Seoldohang Port, Bongnam-ri, Yeomsan-myeon, Korea Fish market, Seoldohang Port, Bongnam-ri, Yeomsan-myeon, Korea
Though the fish market is more popular, Yeomsan-myeon is on the cultural / historical / tourist maps because of the Yeomsan Christian Memorial.
Yeomsan Christian Memorial Tower, Bongnam-ri, Yeomsan-myeon, Yeonggwang-gun, Korea

The Yeomsan Christian Memorial Tower is near the site of martyrdom of the 194 South Korean Christians who were buried at sea with large rocks tied around their necks. During the Korean War, in 1950, after the retaking of Seoul (Sept 28), the South Koreans were drowned in the sea by North Korean soldiers and communist guerillas who could not retreat.  The legend is, that struggling, they sang religious hymns to the last moment. Elements of the monument include; the out stretched arms of Christ, three half-spheres (the trinity), and the crown thorns (suffering). The side murals depict events: Soldiers abusing civilians and imprisoning them with rocks tied to their bodies.

Yeomsan Christian Memorial Tower, Korea Yeomsan Christian Memorial Tower, Korea Yeomsan Christian Memorial Tower, Korea
Field of pepper plants, Korea The field (left) is pepper plants.  Red peppers are used in gochujang (paste) and other flavorings in Korean cuisine.

Some of the most satisfy parts of bicycle touring in Korea is when the route follows farm roads through the fields (right).

Wind turbine, KoreaSolar Voltaic Array, KoreaOther attractions in the area are clean energy production project from wind (left) and solar voltaic (right).
Baekje Coastal Road, Korea Baekje Coastal Road, KoreaBaekje Coastal Road, KoreaBetween Yeomsan and Beopseong there is a choice of routes; one spends more time on the coast and the other goes more inland and passes the Youngsan Holy Land.

The Baekje Coastal Road is quite dramatic in places and corresponding hillier.

Baekje Coastal Road, Korea  Hanbit Nuclear Power Plant (changed from Yeonggwang NPP), Korea

One of the anomalies of the coastal road is a view of the tip of the Hanbit Nuclear Power Plant (the name was changed from Yeonggwang NPP in 2013) (right). The plant was commissioned in 1986. The plants six reactors came on line between 1986 and 2002. It currently ranks as the fifth largest nuclear power station in the world. There is a bit of irony in the plants location 5km from the grounds of the shrines, temple and memorials to the founding of Baekje Buddhism. Korea has 23+ nuclear power reactors and more in the works.

Road to Youngsan Holy Land, Gilyong-ri, Korea The the roads to and through the Youngsan Holy Land, Gilyong-ri, weaves between hills. Youngsan Holy Land is the birthplace of the Holy Sage and Great Master Sotaesan (May 5, 1891). He grew up and attained enlightenment (April 28, 1916) in the same location.  In 1919 he founded the new Won-Buddhism religious order.

Native Lycoris Radiata (cluster amaryllis), Gilyong-ri, Korea Lycoris Radiata in bloom along the road through Youngsan Holy Land, Gilyong-ri, KoreaIf you arrive at the right time the native Lycoris Radiata, with its brilliant red flowers and dramatic long stamen, will be in bloom along the road side. In English they are also called hurricane lilies or cluster amaryllis. Like other plants in the family Amaryllidaceae they are bulb-producing perennial plants.

Monument to Holy Sage and Great Master Sotaesan Monument to Holy Sage and Great Master Sotaesan The founding spirit of Won-Buddhism are; abolition of wastefulness, exclusion of superstition, elimination of illiteracy, prudence and saving, and selfless sacrifice. The Great Master entered Nirvana on June 1, 1943 after transmitting the verse “Being changes in to Nonbeing and Nonbeing in to Being, turning and turning again; but in the ultimate reality Being and Non-being are both void, but the void is complete and contains everything.”
Beopseong-myeon, Korea new bridge, Beopseong-myeon, Korea (2013) Bridge across the harbor, in 2014, Beopseong-myeon, Korea new bridge, Beopseong-myeon, Korea (2015) Cable-span bridge, Beopseong-myeon, Korea (2016)
Entering Beopseong it is possible to see another new cable-span bridge (from left to right: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016). It was dedicated at the end of 2015.
Beopseong-myeon, Korea Fishing boats, Beopseong-myeon, Korea Fishing boats, Beopseong-myeon, Korea Fish sculpture, Beopseong-myeon, Korea It is not surprising, given its location, that Beopseong is in part a fishing and seafood processing town.
Dried fish on a ribbon, Beopseong-myeon, Korea Dried fish gift box, Beopseong-myeon, Korea Dried fish gift box, Beopseong-myeon, Korea Dried fish on a ribbon, Beopseong-myeon, KoreaA bit of a surprise were the gift boxes of dried fish and fish on a ribbon. Dried fish is not a popular gift in North America.
Baekje Buddhism monument, Beopseong-myeon, Korea

Baekje Buddhism monument, Beopseong-myeon, Korea

Baekje Buddhism monument, Beopseong-myeon, Korea Baekje Buddhism monument, Beopseong-myeon, KoreaBeopseong is called the Birthplace of Baekje Buddhism.  It is said to be where an Indian Monk Mirananta (or Eastern China Monk Malandaa) first set foot on Korean territory in 384 CE, to spread Buddhism, having made his journey via Dongjin in China. In the Baekje Ungjin period (475 to 538)  Buddhism developed in earnest and it greatly flourished during the Sabi period (538 to 660) in particular.

A large monument have been built on the hill west of town. In addition to an ornate pavilion and beautiful grounds, there are scores of carved monuments and statues of various styles.

Baekje Buddhism monument, Beopseong-myeon, Korea Baekje Buddhism monument, Beopseong-myeon, Korea Baekje Buddhism monument, Beopseong-myeon, Korea Baekje Buddhism monument, Beopseong-myeon, Korea Baekje Buddhism monument, Beopseong-myeon, Korea
Baekje Buddhism monument, Beopseong-myeon, Korea Baekje Buddhism monument, Beopseong-myeon, Korea Baekje Buddhism monument, Beopseong-myeon, Korea Baekje Buddhism monument, Beopseong-myeon, Korea Baekje Buddhism monument, Beopseong-myeon, Korea
No electric cars sign, Korea Ginseng farm, Yeonggwang, KoreaContinuing northeast, here are a couple of pictures of things along this road I am still trying to learn something about:

The sign says electric cars are not welcome because of "low armature or plain"(?). Is this connected to the Daema Electric Vehicle Industry, a few miles east, near Yeonggwang?

Of more certainty is a roadside ginseng farm. The crop had been rare for a while, but this area has a large number of ginseng growers.

Doam Seowon, Korea

Statue, Mujang, KoreaOn the left is Doam Seowon.  This would make it an old Confucius school, but its history and story have eluded me so far.

And then at the entrance to Mujang is an interesting statue (right) but its significance is yet to be determined.

Mujang Guesthouse Mujang Guesthouse Mujang Guesthouse Mujang Guesthouse Mujang Guesthouse

During the Joseon Period, central government officials and foreign envoys stayed at the walled Mujang Guesthouse / Town Fortress or Castle, when they paid a visit to Mujang-myeon, Gochang-gun.  The letter ‘gwol’ inscribed on the wooden plaque hung at the main hall, symbolizes the king. The local officials paid homage to the wooden plaque on the first and 15th of each month.  Whenever there was a national celebration, people gather here to perform a rite.  It is assumed that the building was built in 1581.  The main building has three parts. The central hall was built higher to enhance its status, as a place containing the symbol of the king. The figures of a tiger and clouds carved on the stairs, add to the esthetic quality of the building.

Every stretch of roads has more history and stories -- and they go back centuries.

Deokcheon Seowon, Sicheon-myeon, Korea Deokcheon Seowon, Sicheon-myeon, KoreaDeokcheon Seowon is a memorial to Cho Chik (1501-72). Cho Chik, a Confucian scholar, was born in Samga, Hapcheon-gun, during the reign of the King Yunsan-gun (r.1494-1506). When offered a magistrate's position, he declined so he could continue to teach local students at this site. The memorial was built by Confucian scholars in 1576 during the reign of King Songjo (r.1567-1608). Along with other Confucian shrines and memorial halls, it closed at the end of the 19th century by order of the Regent Taewon-gun. It re-opened in the 1930s.

Deokcheon Seowon, Sicheon-myeon, Korea Deokcheon Seowon, Sicheon-myeon, Korea Deokcheon Seowon, Sicheon-myeon, Korea

Climbing rock near Yonggye-ri, Asan-myeon, Gochang-gun Climbing rock near Yonggye-ri, Asan-myeon, Gochang-gunIncheongangbyeon-ro, through Wonpyeong-gil reveals additional variations in the kind of landscape in the area. The shear rock cliffs in at Yonggye-ri, Asan-myeon, Gochang-gun is popular among climbers (enlarge the thumbnail to the left and you can find a couple of human specs climbing in the lower left quarter of the wall). Climbers here have cut scores of hand and foot holds in the rock, this would be extraordinarily frowned upon in the North America climbing communities.House, Palhyeongchi-gil, KoreaBicycling, Palhyeongchi-gil, Korea

And the alternative route around the west side of the Seonunsan (mountains), through Palhyeongchi-gil (right) provides a different collecting of visual experiences and some glimpses of the sea..

 

Seonunsa

 

Yeongsan Buan to Gunsan

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