Hahoe Village

Hahoe Village Bus Stop, 2014.

When I was working on my hipsta-traditional project, I made a trip down south to visit Hahoe Village. The village was founded in the 16th century by the Ryu clan and the village is still only inhabited by members of that family. We used to joke about small towns in Newfoundland by saying, “They’re all cousins there.” In this case, it’s true.

The village is quite famous in Korea. Queen Elizabeth II visited in 1999 and planted a tree. (She probably didn’t come by the bus in the photo). Then the village became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010 after they got rid of all the souvenir shops and tidied it up.

The hamlet is very nice if you can avoid tourists by visiting on a weekday or in the chillier seasons. I used my iPhone for the project, but I also brought along a film camera and made a few snapshots like this one. I would like to go back again with tripod and multiple lenses. Maybe in the winter when the sun gets up at about the same time I do. 🙂

It’s pretty easy to see that this photo was made when the sun was high. The whites are very bright and the tree shadows very dark. Of particular note is the big blob in the bottom left. But it doesn’t matter. I just wanted to remember the paint job on the bus and the old people waiting for it to depart.

In and to the sides of Wolhwa Park

Wolhwa Park was built on the land once occupied by a train line. It’s about two kilometres long and generally fifteen metres wide. I go there now and then to make photos, but I can’t seem to do much with it.
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Side Street.

Because the tracks were elevated to go over the river, some of the park is also elevated. From up on high I can look down this side street to the fortune teller part of downtown. I don’t have any tilt-shift lenses, so I straightened the verticals in Lightroom.
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Old residential area.

Directly on the other side of the park is a residential area. Older buildings are constantly being torn down in this part of the city, so it’s probably only a matter of time before this little neighbourhood is gone. I won’t be sorry to see it gone, but it would be nice if the poverty-era buildings were replaced with traditional Korean homes. More than likely they’ll be replaced by coffee shops.
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Wolhwa Pavilion

This pavilion seems to be poorly visited, except for old men smoking at its base. Maybe that’s why it’s poorly visited . . . . .
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Ancestral Shrine (probably)

I thought this building was a part of the park because of the landscaping leading up to the entrance. But I was informed by some litter cleaners that it’s part of a private residence. Oops. This is one of the photos I made before scurrying off.
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Train Tunnel, Wolhwa Park.

It took me a while to find a framing I was happy with and then the timing to get someone to complete the composition.
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Litter Cleaner

In spring the city employs hordes of senior citizens to pick up litter around the city. They go by the names of “Seniors’ Club” or “Volunteer Group” and they get paid a bit of money every week.
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I’m more comfortable making photos on a tripod at historical sites than I am wandering the streets of a city, but with some practice maybe I can produce some decent photos to show people what Gangneung looks like.

On the way to work

The field in the foreground belongs to another house, but it isn’t as photogenic as this place. Or as well placed for a photograph. You can’t see it in this photo, but behind the break in the hedges is a doghouse where a small dog lives. When I first started using this road the dog would come out of its house and look at me while wagging its tail. If no one was around. If the home owner was about, it would bark at me a few times. Very human in that regard. When the boss is around you have to look like you’re working, right? Lately the dog has started barking at me even when alone. I wonder if it has anything to do with the disppearance of Baduki, a neighbourhood dog that used to roam freely, visiting his chained friends and greeting me enthusiastically every time I passed his home. Last year his owner started chaining him up and keeping him inside. That seems to be about the time the dog at the house above became less friendly. Maybe the dog is just getting old and crusty.

Doggy Update!: I went for a walk today up over the hill and on the way back I met a chainless Baduki wagging his tail at a very nervous woman and her little black dog with their backs up against a tree. Poor Baduki. He just wants to be friends but he’s misunderstood. I stopped to say hello to him but he was only interested in a potential new doggy friend. So I walked down the hill. By the time I got to his house he was running down the road after me. So we had a nice little time with much head scratching, rubbing, and wagging of tail. Nice to see him again.

From the Archive: Pots and Cloths

20150708-003-005_soy-paste-pots_drying-rags.jpg
Pots for fermenting foods, 2015.

My wife thought this photo was boring, but I like it for some reason. I suppose because it’s reasonably well composed and the light is pleasantly soft.
The pots are used to ferment bean paste and chilli paste. The modern lids allow more air flow than the traditional covers.
I’m pretty sure I made this photo with the Contax N1 and the Zeiss zoom lens that came with it, but I can’t remember the film.

Gulsan Temple and Surrounding Area

Gulsan Temple was founded around the middle of the ninth century. Alas, it did not survive the Anti-Buddhist Joseon Dynasty which came to power in 1392 and set out to reduce that religion’s influence in the country. The land that once belonged to the temple is covered with farms now, with just a few artefacts remaining. I went out that way about a week ago to make a few photographs.

A sign pointing the way to a temple artefact. The sign has just been transliterated instead of translated. To be useful to a foreign traveller, it should read, “Gulsan Temple Statue of a Sitting Buddha.”
The sign for the sitting Buddha is next to the most famous artefact of the temple and one of Gangneung’s best known traditional treasures. These two stones have holes drilled into them so that banners can be hung up.
A view of the hills through the tourist information sign next to the banner stones.
This group of trees is visible in the view of the hills above.
The sitting Buddha in his ‘house’.
The Buddha’s face is missing, though the reason is not known.
Buddha’s neighbours
Korean fields are usually small, and farmers use these multi-purpose tractors in them. The cart can be detached and various tools such as plows attached. Buses only come to the bus stop in the background a couple of times a day.
Self-portrait at traffic mirror.
The building on the right is a typical farmer’s house made of concrete with a brick facing. The building on the left is new, but I don’t know what it is.
A woman working in the fields.
These wheelie bins are usually for food waste, but there seem to be a lot of them for such a small neighbourhood.
Stone circle for shamanistic rites.
Entrance to the stone circle

View From the Kitchen Window

Hoesan Village in Winter

Each apartment in my complex has two views. Some apartments have a view of an apartment building in the same complex and a view of the apartment complex across the road. Some apartments have a view of a neighbouring apartment building and a view of a scene similar to the one above. The units in my location of the complex are the only ones where you can’t see any other apartment buildings (unles you stick your head out the window and look hard left or right). We have the view above, and we have a view of a dale and hills. We can only hope it’s not all bulldozed and replaced with coffee shops and convenience stores.

Two Photos From a Morning Bicycle Ride

Seongsan Intersection

I’ve possibly mentioned in the past that when I ride to Seongsan, I stop at the 7-11 at the far end of town. Sometimes I make photos of my camera bag and flower pots while drinking a tin of coffee, and sometimes I make a photo of this jumble of utility poles, wires, and cars. I did a decent job of the framing and composition on this day.

Geumsan

A traditional Korean home dwarfed by the huge overpass that carries an expressway over the valley. I never hear noise from it when I’m around there, so I think the soundproofing must be good. Still, I think I might feel nervous if I lived underneath such a large structure.

Thoughts on Carrying on with the Blog

I haven’t written or posted anything in over a month now. It’s another case of “No one is reading, so why bother?” That’s the question I want to mull over in this post. Should I write a blog for an audience of one?
While I consider some reasons to continue or not continue writing on this website, I will share some photos from the month of June. It’s just a random collection as I haven’t been out with the camera much because of the hot weather.

An old building in downtown Gangneung. A rare instance of a building with a colour exterior that isn’t advertising. 
This building is across the street from the colour tile building. It was once part of Gangneung City’s government complex and is called “The Pavilion of Seven Works”.  The seven works carried out were citizen registration, agriculture, military , education, taxation, legal court, and public morals/customs. It’s not a large building, so I imagine there were just a few civil servants in there run right off their feet. These days the grounds are open to the public and the building is used for the Dano Festival.
A model of a government building guard. The building behind him is a recent reconstruction.

I am not good at promoting myself. I even regularly forget or don’t bother to add tags to each post. I’m not sure how easily search engines can find this website without them. I rarely advertise new posts on Facebook because some co-workers and students are on my friends list. I don’t think I post anything offensive here, but I work at a Catholic university and who knows what might prompt a complaint against me.

Farm Buildings. There is a normally a cow living in the building on the right, but I didn’t see it on the day I was in the neighbourhood. Maybe it was sleeping.

If I can’t be arsed to advertise myself to the world then it’s my own fault if I have very few readers. So, if I’m not writing for an audience, why should I carry on writing?

Sandy’s Sandwich. The windscreen has stickers advertising steamed dumplings, and I suspect someone imported a food truck from the States and had a go at selling Korean food in it. The truck now sits in the countryside falling apart, so I guess that didn’t go so well.

One reason to write here is to improve my writing. Not just words and sentences, but coherent essays. I’ve been living in Korea for a long time and I haven’t needed to use much more English than what I use in the EFL classroom with low and intermediate level students. The truck in the photo above is a pretty good metaphor for the advanced English part of my brain. I would like to write short articles on things I photograph, but the gears grind badly in my mind.

Another metaphor for my brain? Old televisions up against a dyke. I can’t explain this.

Another reason to write without concern for an audience is to motivate myself to make more photos and to photograph a subject in more detail with a blog story in mind. Maybe no one will see the photo essay , but it focuses my mind and helps me see a subject from more than one perspective.

Sometimes I want to live like this lucky bastard

The third reason to continue writing here has to do with photo editing. Photos that look fine to me on my computer can suddenly reveal their faults when I consider showing them to the world. So posting photos on a blog is helpful in weeding out weak photos.

I made this photo two weeks ago. Yesterday the scooter was in the same spot. Abandoned? The man riding bicycle in the background was a nice bit of luck.
Another scooter on the same day.

Writing about whether or not to continue posting on Blogspot has helped to clear my mind a bit. I think I will continue to write here, but probably I should be more focused. Many of my posts are a bit random and general. “A walk downtown”, “Geumsan Village”, and so on. Perhaps future posts should be something like “Downtown Gangneung’s Pedestrian Bridges” or “Rice Farms in Geumsan Village”. Would it be helpful to think of each blog post as a mini-exhibition with explanations?
In conclusion, I think I will start writing here again, even if it’s just for myself. If I focus on specific subjects and refrain from posting random collections of photos then I’ll be helping my photography and my writing. And maybe even attract a few readers.

Having said that, here are a few more or less random photos of Geumsan Village, the last photos I made in June of 2019. 🙂

Delivery truck parked underneath an expressway overpass.
Hot weather means I am riding my electric bicycle these days.
First in a possible series? The Rice Fields of Geumsan Village.

Thank you for reading.

The Scenic Route to Work

Sometimes I take the forty minute route to work because I get to walk past lots of trees and fields.

Jebi-ri (Swallow Village)
Gagneung. Computer Chair

This chair is at the edge of a field, so maybe a farmer uses it to take a rest now and then. I can’t explain the concrete tiles piled up next to it.