Thursday, November 13, 2014

Japanese Artillery in Oiyangpo

Russu-Japanese war in 1904 - 1905 affected Oiyangpo 외양포, a tiny coastal village, located on the southern Gadeokdo 가덕도, an island southwest of Busan 부산. Russian Baltic fleet departed from the Baltic sea to relieve the blockaded and besieged Russian forces at Port Arthur on the Yellow sea in October 1904. It took eight months for the Russian fleet to reach Tsushima Straits.
In 1904, the inhabitants' lands and houses in Oiyangpo were forcibly expropriated according to Korea-Japan Treaty signed in the same year that was the first step to Korea's colonization by Japan. The Korean Government payed compensation to the inhabitants. In 1904, Imperial Japanese army landed Oieyangpo, whose villagers were displaced. The Japaneses started soon constructing the artillery headquarter, barracks, attached facilities, etc., and soon after their artillery batteries were deployed. The above photo taken last September is about the view from behind the village. Japan was concerned about the possibility that the Russian fleet can attack Jinhae 진해 where Imperial Japanese fleet docked. They thought the Baltic fleet had to pass through the sea around Oiyangpo, one of the strategic points on the way to Jinhae.
After the artillery headquarter moved to Masan in 1911, this military base in Oiyangpo had been maintained for the defense of Busan and Jinhae bays. This view shows the artillery training at Masan 마산 where the Imperial Japanese artillery headquarter was located. The same 280mm howitzers that Japanese used during Russu-Japanese war can be seen. Like in Oiyangpo, Japan later built 11 bases including one in Jeju island across the coastline and islands in the southern area of the nation to defend itself against the potential attacks that could be launched by Russia in the early 20th century and America during World War II.
The view shows Japanese 280mm howitzers raining shells on the Russia position during Russo-Japanese war. 
The Japanese artillery in Oiyangpo was cleverly hidden from outside. It can be only seen from the air. It was positioned at the foot of mountain behind the village and constructed with the thick concrete walls. It's plan is rectangular-shaped and reserved several explosive warehouses and noise barriers around. Six 280mm howitzers were deployed in 3 positions, one pair each, which had been maintained until Japan's defeat in World War II. However, there have been no exchanges of fire here. After Japan's defeat, US navy landed Oiyangpo and captured this military base.
The sites where the artillery batteries were deployed had been devastated since independence from Japan. There has been only ruins left. But the barracks where Japanese soldiers stayed remained. The inhabitants displaced in 1904 returned their home and have lived in the barracks since then. The properties of the area have been owned by the government and renovation not permitted. Ironically, strict law enforcement has kept the vestiges of Japanese imperialism alive.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Samunjin River Ferry

Samunjin 사문진 나루터 used to be a famous river ferry at Nakdong riverside together with Jumak 주막, an old tavern at the riverside. Nakdong river has been the major traffic route since Shilla dynasty. Trade with Japan was booming along this route, too. Samun in Samunjin means buddhist monks, Jin a river ferry. A story passed down through generations tells that there were many buddhist temples around here. The monks were likely to cross the river by ferry, it can be easily understood why this place got the name.


The photo taken at Han riverside in Seoul by William F. Sands(1874~1946), an american in 1896 shows the typical scene of river ferry at that time. In March 1900, Richard H. Sidebotham(1874~1908), an american missionary got off ferry at Samujin. The ferry he got off loaded a piano being brought from America, which is historically the first piano to be introduced into Korea. Porters were joined to carry the piano from here to the american's residence in downtown. Local people having seen it first in their life were curious about what that strange thing is like. Then they named it a ghost box 귀신통 because some weird and unusual sounds came from it.
This photo taken by an american missionary depicts the scene of porters carrying the piano. Network of railroad and automobile has been built up since Korea began to be modernized, and many river ferries including Samunjin were closed. During the colonial period, Japanese built an amusement park at the site of the hill overlooking Samunjin and the nearby area. 
This scene is the overview of Hwawon amusement park and Samunjin river ferry during the colonial period. Hwawon 화원 is the name of town nearby. A couple of decades after independence from Japan, this park had been one of the most visited destinations by people living in Daegu. However, the number of visitors has been decreased since people owned their private cars. Seemed like its flourishing period remained as an old story.
Last year, Dalseong county managing this area finally decided to renovate and restore Samunjin and Jumak in an efforts to attract local people and tourists again. A year later, Samunjin river ferry and Jumak village were reopened in summer. Jumak village is consisted of some thatched-roof cottages. Some flat wooden benches are put into the front yard. People have fun drinking rice wine and tasting traditional dishes cooked instantly. A ferry and a small cruiser are operated on regular. Once again  Samunjin river ferry and Jumak start being packed with people. It is hard to find empty seats at Jumak on weekends.
Autumn has also come to Samunjin and Jumak. When autumn, the best season in the year is deepening, on weekends people prefer to going out to feel the typical autumn scenery and cool weather. Last sunday afternoon, it rained suddenly several times, while the sun shone. The weather was so fickle. The yellow ginko leaves were falling on the wet road in front of Jumak gate. Photos were taken outside Jumak. A rainbow hang in the sky over southern Hwawon after the rainfall stopped.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Old Trail

Before public transport services were operated in the modern times, travelling on foot was the only way available for the ordinary people. Koreans usually wore simple shoes called Jipsin 짚신 made of rice straw.

The shoes are not enough strong to cover the walking distance, so travelers prepared extra pairs depending on the distance of the journey. Sometimes they go together with livestock as native goat, rabbit, chicken and cattle for sale.

Hiking along the trails on the mountains becomes sports for health these days. But in the past, walking along the mountain trails was just one of the important parts of ordinary life itself. They needed to exchange their own products with others away from their villages and walking across the river, fields and mountains was natural and inevitable. 

They walked and hiked along the shortest paths and trails between areas. They used the carriers named Jige 지게 made of wood and rice straw to carry daily necessaries to sell or buy in the local markets. To save time, it seems they tried to find the shortest and gentle paths. The past roads for walking travelers in the fields don't nearly remain any longer, but some trails on the mountains used by them still partly remain. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Long Awaited Winter

Winter has come back to the nearby mountains. Even a few leaves remaining on the trees are ready to drop when the chill wind blows across the ridges. Winter is the best season for hikers and trekkers in Korea.  They are happy to walk along the path on the ridge again, feeling cold one year since last year.

When the scorching heat wave hit the country last summer, it felt like those sticky summer nights will last forever! Global warming has already affected our environment in a lot of ways. Summer becomes the toughest season of the year in Korea. Personally, winter is preferrable, because one can walk nearly any time of day without sweating.

Anyway, it certainly feels like winter has arrived again!!! Enjoy the moment now, nobody will get this moment back.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Snow Covered Scenery

Once again, I return to the blogspot for a long time. The autumn had passed and the winter has aleady come. We had snow a couple of times this year, they say this winter feels colder than before. The snow also fell on the railway and the rice field harvested during last autumn. The photo was taken somewhere around Gyeongju 경주, the antient capital of Shilla dynasty.

This single track railway form Gyeongju to Busan 부산 was built in 1935 by Japanese during the colonial period. I walked along the railway track. Cold winds blow across the fields, touching my face. A few minutes later, I heard the horns far away and then the train was approaching from behind. I stepped aside for a while to see the train passing. The train journey is well worth considering for its winter scenery in Korea.