Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Jinju fortress

A wonder around the fortress at Jinju is eye opening. Officially the Koreans call it a castle but it isn't in the british sense of the word. This wall is a depiction (and mysteriously a celebration) of some of the wars. You have to be silent when you visit.
This bell is rung out to warn the town folk of invasion and has been chimed by many of Korea's heroes.
Sometimes it is hard to show the inside of buildings that have been beutifully hand painted.
Many of the living areas were quite nice too though.
This is actually a buddhist monumnet on the left of the picture. I didnt go to close as people still pray there and were doing so as I went past. All of this is within the fortress walls.
This is a museum that has been built inside. It describes two famous battles. Why they were fought (more of a strategy than a slaughter) and how they were won and lost. Even when the Koreans lost to the Japanese they damaged the forces enough to make further invasion impossible.
There are many stories of heroes hidden in these houses.
I've never been one to miss a picture of a cannon. Even one from 1592. The main weapon that the Koreans used though was boiling water. It makes sense really, try climbing over afortress when people are throwing boiling water at you.
All of the commanders are given memorial tablets that look more like grave stones. No one knows many of the final resting places but they are all honoured.
During the war there were close to 70,000 townsfolk. The fortress was designed to hold 10,000 people. Guess why this was built?
Many of the items in Jinju commemerate leadership achievements. Some of it seems like propaganda but this man was loved by many. He was never honoured by the Korean kings for (ahem!) political reasons but his actions inspired many and created many stories of heroism.
The locals were proud and honoured him as only Koreans can. The plaques describe his efforts during two Japanese invasions and make it sound like he won the first almost single handed.

This woman is an interesting patriot. She is also remembered as a hero with words chosen carefully.
This is her memorial tablet out on the rocks by the river side. She was fed up of Japanese tyranny and so lured a Japanese commander here before throwing him off the rocks. David beats Goliath.
She is described delicately as a 'female professional entertainer' and is a heroic inspiration to many of the women struggling against Japanese 'oppression'. While I wasn't exactly imaging a woman in a clown outfit as I read this it still struck me as odd that a Korean (usually reserved people) decided to point out that she was a prostitute fed up of rapists. So much for womens lib. (doesn't really exist but Korea has signs of taking on board western ideals even if some of the older locals are traditional)

Jinju town

Last weekend I visited a city called Jinju. It's a medium sized city famous for its fortress and heroic town folk who valiantly battled against many invasions.
Jinju was seen as a tactically ideal place to control many Korean cities.
I actually wanted to put these photos in order but for some reason blogger wants to put the night time ones out first. I enjoyed all the bright lights.
The week before I went was a lantern festival but much of this reminds me of Seoul anyway.

I particulary like this flash board. That dragon moves and dances and shows 'analogue' quality tv reports. I heard all about Kim Jung Il just watching this.
The river is a mecca for kids
Beleive it or not this picture was taken from an e-mart. I guess Asia tries to blend the old and the new.

I liked this little boat on its own in the river. I have no idea if it was part of a show or anything as it just stands there.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Once more up the mountains

So I thought I would have another crack at the nearby mountains and this time I made it to the top (3 hours scrambling)
Thought I 'd take a picure in every direction to both remember and prove it.

I also found this look out point.
And a new way home. It looked easier but it wasn't
I had no idea which way to go at times on the way down.
I nearly forgot to share the view.

You can see just how small Geochang town is.

Concert house

We found somewhere in Geochang that serves wine. True it was a pretty fancy place called the concert house
and it had a large classical piano with expensive wine and cheese but we pretended we were upper class. Well nearly.
I thought many people wouldn' t beleive I ate wine and cheese from a menu so here is proof. True the red wine was chilled and inexplicably the white wine wasn't but that is normal in Korea.

Teh Koreans even tried to teach me how to hold things properly. As you can see I just looked a muppet.

More pics of Geochang

Thought I would bore myself with some more pictures of the town I live in. This first one is the school that I work at.
Most of the rest of these are from south of the river. I don't go down that way often as I don't need to cos there is little there.
It is very much the poor end of town unfortunately.


All over Chuseok, Geochang is very sleepy. I thought I'd get a few photo's taken while it's quiet. Chuseok is similar to Korean thanksgiving. Everyone wears traditional Korean clothes called a hanbok on this day. We had a chuseok party before we closed for the holiday. Here are some teachers and my director.
On Chuseok the population of each town goes to pay their respects to those no longer with us. This is the dedicated monument in Geochang.
They also give each lots of presents. I got a new shirt as you can see.
It was a beautiful day.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Daegu soccer match

So I finally got to go to a soccer match in Daegu stadium. It is also purpose built for the world cup and is nothing short of magnificent.
A nice suprise when we got there was that we got free tickets. I tried asking how much they were and was just waved away. Result!
There are video boards and sculptures at either end of the stadium which was sadly empty despite the free tickets.

So we got a perfect view!
I even ran to the top of what must be at least a 50,00o seater.

i went with Martyn and Steve who aren't quite as enthusiastic as me about soccer.
The biggest suprise was that Daegu (who are struggling in the league) beat Seoul (K'league powerhouses) 2-0. the supporters went mad.
there were Mexican waves and dancing in the aisles (there was plenty of room). Thispicture is of the massive Seoul travelling support.
The night was the friendliest family orientated football environment I have ever seen. Everything was done for entertainment and the players were the epitomy of fair play before, during and after the match.

As with all stadia built for the world cup there are also purpose built parks for supporters to gather. This is an ariel view from the top of the stands.
It is all very impressive and worth walking around. It's shame that one korean told me the stadium hasn't been full since the world cup