Between the densely populated neighbourhood of Ponam and the busy tourist village of Anmok is a large area of farmland called Hapyeong Fields. A lot of the land is for growing rice, but some of the fields grow potatoes, chillies, radish, and cabbage. Most of the irrigation ditches are less than a metre wide and made of plain concrete, but the one pictured below is several metres wide and made out of stepped red brick. It was built several years ago and I wonder if it was built so nicely because it’s close to the road that tourists use. You can see tourist hotels in the far background of this photo. All the brick was overgrown this summer, but you can see the sloping sides. To make this photo, I stood in a pavilion overlooking the channel (seems too nice to be called ‘ditch’).
   I set the camera picture contol to Vivid because of the wonderful greens. I usually use a more neutral setting but I wanted to show the vibrancy of this fertile spot. I don’t think the photo would work without the two rocks at the bottom of the frame. They keep the eye from falling out of the bottom of the photo and they provide a nice counterpoint to the tall pines near the top.

After Thought
This photo makes me feel calm now, but I was upset when I made it. I noticed this scene whilst cycling down a tractor road so I pulled over and parked my bicycle near the pavilion. Sitting on the edge of the pavilion were a father and son. The son was playing a phone game and the father was looking around. When he noticed me, the father stared a bit and then tapped his son on the leg. When the son looked up the father pointed at me and said, “Look, a foreigner.” I felt like something escaped from a circus. The son, to his credit, just ignored me and went back to his phone. The father continued to stare at me until I stared back at him and then he seemed to understand that staring is not too polite. The incident ruined my afternoon, but at least I didn’t let it ruin the chance to photograph this scene. 

4 thoughts on “Irrigation Channel

  1. That looks like a very verdant place – maybe the brickwork is older than you think – does anyone have time to lay bricks these days?As for the foreigner comment – it's a shame you were on your own – of course, you could have pretended to have an invisible companion, started chatting to them and then looked at the bloke and said in Korean \”Oh look . . .a Human!\” and kept chatting and staring. There's an expression over here:Don't let the bastards grind you down!Blogger not letting me post as myself – the bots are taking over!


  2. The English department at the university I graduated from had t-shirts made one year with \”Don't let the bastards grind you down\” printed in Latin. I wish I had bought one, though I suppose it would be a rag by now.The brick is not that old because I saw them build it some years ago. I think it was part of a beautification project for the touristy part of the city. It was in the same year that City Hall repaved all the sidewalks in the parts of the city visited by tourists. The rest of the city remained and remains at slum-level. A slight exaggeration . . . .Thanks for the comments. Always welcome!


  3. The rocks are well-placed Marcus and the hotels in the distance add a little context. Nice. Is the land state owned&farmed or private, do you know?I presume there aren’t many non-Koreans around that area for you to get such a comment. Interesting. What would have happened had you called out a ‘Good day’ to him (in Korean), I wonder. Care to speculate?!(And…this is the third time I’ve tried to comment. My phone app didn’t recognise me either so nothing got posted. I emptied cookies&cache, logged back into my Google account – hopefully sorted now).


  4. The farms are private, but the irrigation channels and tractor roads seem to be maintained by the municipal government.It's strange that I still get pointed to and stared at. Primary and secondary schools have all had foreign teachers for years. And during the Olympics last winter the city was crawling with foreigners of all colours, shapes, and sizes. And any time I go downtown I see people from other countries. It's quite odd, but Korea has a very \”Us and Them\” mentality because it's just been Koreans here for so many centuries. If I had greeted him I probably would have gotten a mumbled greeting in return. That's the usual reaction from people in their 40s and older. Or they don't reply. Younger people are more likely to say hello. Oh, well. What can you do?


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