Trip Notes from Beautiful South Korea
Korea boasts more than 5000 years of ancient history and 500 years of pre-modern history during the Joseon Dynasty. The country rapidly industrialised when it was thrust into the modern global market and today it is now recognised as the fourth largest economy in Asia and 11th in the world.
The name Korea derives from the name Goryeo. The name Goryeo itself was first used by the ancient kingdom of Goguryeo in the 5th century as a shortened form of its name. The term South Korea is common in the Western World. While South Koreans use Han (or Hanguk) to refer to the entire country, North Koreans and ethnic Koreans living in China and Japan use the term Joseon as the name of the country.
Located in northeast Asia, the peninsula of Korea is surrounded by water on three sides and is compromised of 70% mountainous terrain. The rich history, culture and geographic diversity are certainly what makes this region an emerging destination. Serene mountain tops, bustling seaside villages, vibrant major cities - the diversity of things to see and do make for a variety of unique experiences each day.
Lets explore some of the lesser known places to visit and experience in this extraordinary destination.
Namhae German Village
The German Village was built for Korean residents who returned from living in Germany. Many Korean's lived in Germany where they earned foreign currency during the modernisation of Korea in the 1960s. The area is now a unique spot related to German culture and the story of the Korean people that went to Germany. It would be remiss to visit this region and not see The Namhae German Exhibition Hall which opened in 2014. A display of the history and artefacts of the Korean miners and nurses who were sent to Germany for work in the 1960s. The exhibition hall shows the sad and lonely reality these workers lived through while working in a far place in order to send money home to their families. At that time, Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world, with an unemployment rate of 30%.
Insider Tip - Make sure you coincide your visit to this area with a chance to sample the local Korean German Cuisine, it is an interesting fusion and one word sums it up - delicious!
Dongpirang Mural Village
The word "Dongpirang" is made of two words. One is "Dong", meaning east and the other is "Pirang", meaning hill in a Tongyeong dialect. Tongyeong Agenda 21 which is an association in Tongyeong gathered people throughout the nation in order to paint murals on the walls of Dongpirang-gil Street in October 2007.
Thanks to the participants' paintings, this hillside village on the sea became a new place, revitalised by the art. Make time to take in a stroll around Dongpirang Mural Village, absorbing a wealth of vibrant and inspirational murals. Stop for a cup of Ginger Tea or look out for the local favourite, ice cream!
The view overlooking the sea and Gangguan Port is fantastic as well.
Tongyeong Sebyeonggwan Hall
Sebyeonggwan Hall, located in Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do, was established in 1605 by the 6th generation commander-in-chief Lee Kyung-jun and is well known as one of the most note worthy buildings of the Joseon Dynasty Period. Sebyeonggwan Hall is placed at the foot of Yeohwangsan Mountain and overlooks Tongyeong. Right next to the hall are the remains of the naval base Tongjeyeong, which includes Unjudang (also called Jeseungdang, a military education centre for the Joseon Navy) among others. Sebyeonggwan Hall symbolises the ending of the war, the washing away and cleaning up of the weapons of war.
United Nations Memorial Cemetery
The United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan is a burial ground for casualties of the Korean War and is the only United Nations cemetery in the world. Laid out over 14 hectares (35 acres), the graves are set out in 22 sites designated by the nationalities of the buried service members.
A visit to the chapel will introduce the cemetery via a 20-minute video presentation which will leave even the most hardened heart emotional. Learn why it was built, how many United Nations soldiers are buried here, how many there were involved in the war in total. Well over 40,000 United Nations soldiers died during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953 (in addition to half a million South Korean civilians and soldiers). In addition to these war dead, surviving Korean War veterans also have the option of being buried here after their death.
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