A Day at the Park

I’m tired of making photos at the same places in Gangneung, so early this afternoon I took bus 112 to the Unification Park south of the city.
Before I left I stopped into my favourite noodle restaurant. It’s called Three-Way Intersection Restaurant and is located at a six-way intersection. Actually, there are three main roads but three smaller ones as well. It’s a hellish place for driving.

The sign says, “Specialising in handmade noodle soup.” It is, in fact, the only item on the menu. There is, in fact, no menu to look at. You walk in, say hello, and a few minutes later you have a bowl of noodle soup. Sometimes she asks how many people are joining you.

Here is the cook and co-owner. Her husband is bent over the sink doing something.

And here is the best noodle soup in Gangneung along with a dish of gimchi.

Buses to places outside the city centre don’t come frequently, so there is a lot of waiting. The old woman in the orange jacket kept asking the young women to her left for the time every couple of minutes. I had pretty good timing and only had to wait for about twenty minutes for my bus to arrive.

Unification Park has two sections about 800 metres apart. The first part is up a steep hill and is divided into two sections. The first section has some old planes and some memorials. Farther up the hill is an area for tanks and a National Security Museum. I didn’t bother with the tanks and the museum because I wasn’t interested in walking up a steep 300 metre hill. Also, tickets for the National Security Museum have to be purchased at the second part of the park 800 metres away.

Korean War memorial. I don’t know what the significance of having a rifle in one hand and a book in the other is.

I might have to have a ‘chat’ with the National Security people if they knew I made this photograph of a military lookout. There are no signs in the park about photography, but a sign down in the fence by the highway says No Photography. The military should either move this lookout or move the park.

The outdoor area has some old planes and jets on display. Some from the Korean war and some from the sixties and seventies.

You can climb up to have a look in the cockpits. It must take some courage to sit in that little bubble and fly at mad speeds through the air.

This memorial to pilots and mechanics was at Gyeongpo Lake until 2008. I guess the city thought it matched the Unification Park better. A sign says that the Korean Air Force started flying missions in 1951 using U.S. F-51s. It then relates how the Korean Air Force destroyed a bridge that the UN forces had failed to destroy after 500 attempts. I feel like something is being left out of or exaggerated in that story. It reminds me of the time I visited the Korean War Museum in Seoul many moons ago. My friend and I walked through and enjoyed the ancient warfare exhibits but when we walked through the Korean War section we were quite surprised. There was almost no mention of the U.S. and fifteen other UN nations involved in the conflict. The impression was that South Korea had fought and won the war almost by itself.

In addition to war planes, the presidential plane used in the 50s and 60s is on display. It sits on the edge of a hill so I couldn’t get a good photo of it.

A very knackered pilot mannequin.

The president’s seat. The calligraphy behind the chair was written by former president Park Jeonghee.

President Park’s wife using the plane’s phone to speak with their children. Possibly Park Geunhye, who later became the first female president of Korea but was later impeached and now sits in prison. I think the guy second from the left was a president in the eighties or nineties.

As I mentioned, the second part of the Unification Park is 800 metres down the highway. Having no car, I nervously walked down the road that has no sidewalk. There is a bike lane sign here, but it’s just painted on the car lane. Good luck.

The second part of the park has a couple of naval exhibits. This battleship was given to Korea in 1972 by the U.S. when they retired it. Korea used it until 1999 and then brought it here. A sign says the ship was built in 1944 and used by the U.S. in WWII, the Korean War, and the Gulf War. I understand the Gulf War to be the one that happened in the 90s, so I’m not sure how that adds up. Anyway, the battleship was lifted out of the sea and placed on the shore. The only one in the world, according to the sign.

And this is how you move a battleship around.

A made a couple of photographs that weren’t just for this blog, but, to tell the truth, nothing much interested me there.

These ships are very thin when looked at front on. It’s amazing that they stay upright in the water.

Everything has to have a cute character . . . .

The ship’s name is Jeonbuk, named, I think, after the province.

Depth charges.

I see you. Boom Boom.

One of two anchors.

You can go inside the ship to see some displays and explanations of Korea’s naval history.

This old Goldstar computer was the most interesting thing on display. Goldstar merged with the company Lucky to form Lucky Goldstar. You probably know it as LG.

The kitchen for the regular crew. Rice and soup. You will eat it and you will enjoy it.

From the deck I could look down into the sea, which is a lovely shade of green. It’s even nicer when the light is right.

I could also look down on a wooden ship used by North Korean fishermen who escaped to South Korea. And, behind that, the submarine that brought North Korean commandos to Gangneung in 1996.

Here it is as seen from the highway.

You can walk through the sub, but you have to wear a hard hat. Absolutely necessary because space in the sub is very tight.

The entrance.

Living quarters. Relatively spacious compared to the rest of the sub. From floor to ceiling is about 2 metres.

Bunks are on oxygen tanks. Twenty-six commandos came on this sub but there were only six beds. I suppose others slept on the floor. How they made it to South Korea without killing each other in that cramped space is hard to imagine.

Kitchen area.

This does something.

Part of the engine, I think. It was really difficult to squeeze through some parts of the sub, especially the engine room and the room with the periscope. I’m sure that has a name, but I don’t know what it is.

 After returning from the park I stopped by Central Market to buy some fried chicken. The market is crowded and sells uncovered food but that doesn’t stop scooters from going up and down the aisles all the time.

One member of the family that owns this very good chicken shop is married to a Vietnamese woman and hires lots of foreigners. The staff know me quite well and I got a free bottle of Coke today. If I lose my job at the university maybe I can find work here . . . .

It was good to get out of town and aim my camera at something new, but the Unification Park is not really that interesting. Unless you like propaganda and old military equipment. I felt slightly creeped out at times, actually. Everything I looked at was made to kill people, even if it’s for self-defence. I wouldn’t say it was a pleasant afternoon.
I did realise, however, that the bus that takes you to Unification Park also stops at a Buddhist temple. Depending on the weather, I might try going there tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll feel better than I did today.

8 thoughts on “A Day at the Park

  1. You know Marcus – that's one of the best wee travel blogs I've read – you've covered everything, taken some good pictures and described it all in an interesting and engaging manner . . . does this sound like a report you'd write for your students? Not mean to be – gosh that was interesting. SK seems like a weird mix kind of place . . . I can't believe they lifted a whole warship ashore!Oh, and the soup looks fantastic!P

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  2. Thanks for the kind comments. It's very encouraging. The university's pre-semester 'workshop' is on Friday, so tomorrow I'm going to Seoul for the day to have a look at some markets and palaces. A last chance to enjoy the vacation and another chance to practise my tourist photography. I usually only the photograph the details of a place and I want to get better at showing the general idea of a place. I'll do a write-up of that trip if I manage to make some good photographs.

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  3. Nice post Marcus. That park looks really interesting-loads to see and photograph. And the noodle soup looks great. Funny that some of the stories are a little economical with the facts – though I’m sure that happens in many if not all other countries. These days with information available at peoples’ fingertips you wonder that practice still goes on. Every country has its little insecurities and foibles I guess.

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  4. Great pictures of the ship and the sub, Marcus. And a really nice story for sure! My father used to be a fighter pilot back in the 1960s, so I've heard a story or two from inside the cockpits of those fighters. Not from inside any Korean fighter plane, of course, but they would be more or less all the same things I would guess. Speedy little vehicles they are for sure!

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