Thursday, June 11, 2009

Gangneung Seongyojang

Another of the wonderful places to visit in the Gyeongpo Lake area is Gangneung Seongyojang, or, The Hall Of Korean Cultural Experience. This is actually another of the historic lakeside residences, although it sits a little further away from the lake.
The sign out front has this information about Gangneung Seongyojang:
"Important Folklores Materials No. 5.
Seongyojang is a typical upper-class residence of the late Joseon Era.
It was built in 1703 by Yi Naebeon, a 11th generation descendent of Prince Hyoryeongdaegun.
The house comprises an Anchae (the women's quarters), a Yeolhwadang (the men's quarters), a Haengrangchae (servants quarters), a Dongbyeoldang (east wing guest room), a Seobyeoldang (west wing library), a Hwallaejeong (pavilion), and an annex building.
Seongyojang, though 300 years (10 generations) have passed since it's erection, preserves it's original form, and succeeds to the fame and tradition of Sadaebu (upper-class) house of the Joseon Era.
Seongyojang was designated a national property in 1965, and Joseon as Korea's best traditional house in the 20th century."
Ok Hwa and I visited Gangneung Seongyojang on Tuesday, April 14, a cool and windy day. We had visited some of the other historic lakeside homes at Gyeongpo Lake the day before, but she really wanted me to see this one.
We had to pay admission to get in the front gate, but it was inexpensive, and well worth it. This is another of those sprawling residences, similar to Ojukheon, with visitor amenities such as a dining hall, gift shop, gardens, and interpretive signs everywhere.
The main historical residence is a large complex of buildings set against the western side of a hill, surrounded by a stone wall. The flat ground between the home and the lake is occupied by agricultural fields. Some of the taller buildings of Gangneung University are visible in the distance across the lake to the south west. Otherwise you could easily imagine yourself in eighteenth century Korea.
Across the street from Gangneung Seongyojang is a large parking lot for tour buses, and a little store. We stopped by the little store first to get some coffee, and browse the merchandise. We ended up buying quite a few souvenirs from this handy little store.
Upon entering the grounds, we found that we had the place almost entirely to ourselves. There were a few groundskeepers about, but otherwise, no one. Excellent for taking pictures. We toured the place for an hour and a half, poking our noses in every corner. About half an hour before we left, a small group of middle aged tourists showed up, but we kept out of each other's way. A really great visit, with lots of pictures and videos to show for it.
After we left the grounds of Seongyojang, we went back across the street to the little store, bought our souvenirs, and headed to Gyeongpo Beach for lunch.
Here is a link to a slide show of the pictures I took at Seongyojang:
Here is a link to a video I shot at Seongyojang:
Here is video #2:
Here is video #3:
And, if you still haven't seen enough, here's video #4:
The official website of the Republic of Korea:

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Korean Mini Tractor

Anyone who has followed this blog this far, and clicked on the photo links, has probably become aware of my fascination with these little tractors. Well, I'm fascinated with all farm tractors, but these are the coolest, tough little tractors I've ever come across.

On our last trip to Korea in 2001, there seemed to be more of them about. There are still plenty of them around, however, especially in the rural areas.

I've seen them used by city parks department grounds keeping crews at Gyeongpo Lake, and by road maintenance crews. Mostly, though, they are the tool of the small farmer all over Korea.

The front, engine section dis-connects from the back part, and a variety of different implements can be fitted for different tasks. They seem to mostly be used in the wagon configuration these days, but I have seen plows, roto-tillers, sprayers, and pumps attached to the back. They are a great, versatile little power source for the small farmer.

For a slide show of mini tractor photos, click here:

For a video of a mini tractor, click here:

The official website of the Republic of Korea:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Gyeongpo Beach and Lake

The Gyeongpo Beach and Lake area is one of our favorite spots in Gangneung City. We went there on three different days during our stay with Mrs. Kim. It is about half way from downtown Gangneung to the Sacheon Valley road, off highway 7. It's about three miles east of the highway over to the beach, and along this road you pass along the north side of Gyeongpo Lake.

I've never seen an ocean and a lake so close together. This is one of the most fascinating things about this place. The ocean and the lake are separated by only about two hundred yards of sand, and some pine trees. The pine trees are another interesting feature. I've never been to a beach with pine trees so close, right out on the sand.

Near where the lake and ocean are closest, there is a concentration of seafood shops, restaurants, hotels, and night clubs. Along the road from the highway there are other attractions, including the Edison Gramophone Museum, The Historic Automobile Museum, Gyeongpodae Pavilion, several historic lakeside homes, the March 1 Independence Movement Memorial, and the Hall Of Korean Cultural Experience. The lake and the grounds around it are a large city park. There is a wide paved pathway around the lake for the many people who stroll and bicycle around it.

During our time there in early April, the weather was perfect, and all the trees and flowers were in full bloom. The city has planted rows of beautiful white blooming trees along either side of the road from highway 7 over to the beach, and many people came out to see them, and stroll along by the lake. The area was always thronged with tourists visiting the lake and attractions. Many bus loads of tourists came to visit the two museums, and Gyeongpodae Pavilion. It never felt crowded to us, though. The beach itself was not nearly as popular as the lake and it's attractions, however. Ok Hwa told me, and I figured as much, that it was a bit early in the year for the beach to be very crowded. It was still too cool to swim in the ocean or sunbathe on the beach.

We liked strolling along the beach, though. There is a nice board walk along the beach, and through the pine trees behind the beach as well. There is a little road that parallels the beach, just behind the pine trees, and all the ocean front hotels, boutiques, night clubs, and restaurants are there.

Gyeongpo is a busy tourist area within the city of Gangneung, but also a beautiful natural setting. It's natural beauty is carefully maintained by the city, and all who work and play there. The Koreans really respect their environment, and are careful not to spoil it.

For videos of our visits to Gyeongpo Beach, click here:,


and here:

For a slideshow of photos I took at Gyeongpo Beach, click here:

For videos of Historic Lakeside Homes, click here:,


and here:

For a slideshow of photos I took at Gyeongpo Lake, click here:

The official website of the Republic of Korea: