Tree and Vine

Jukheon Reservoir, Gangneung. 2019

A road goes all the way around Jukheon Reservoir and you can see everything from tombs to farms to woods to pensions to gateball courts to men fishing next to No Fishing signs. It’s normally quiet at the reservoir – there are few cars driving around and it’s not a tourist spot.

It’s a six kilometre bicycle ride from my apartment to the artificial lake, so by the time I arrive, look around, and make some photos, I’m pretty thirsty. Sometimes I sit by the side of the road with a thermos of tea and enjoy a view like the one in the photo above. More often than not I’ll sit by some graves and enjoy a cool drink. The dead don’t seem to mind, they’re quiet, and I tip a small libation as payment for the seat.

Jukheon Reservoir Tomb Site

Tomb Site at Jukheon Reservoir, 2019
The Space Between Tombs, Jukheon Reservoir, 2019

Inscriptions at tomb sites are often written in Chinese characters, so it’s difficult for me to find out who is buried under the mounds of earth. Whoever they were, they must have belonged to a well-off family with the money to buy a large piece of land and have stelae, statues, and tombs made.
These photographs were made in May, when there wasn’t much rain to make the land green. The grass probably grew a lot during the rainy season (I haven’t been there since I made these photos) and the site will get groomed in September in preparation for the harvest festival when Koreans perform rites to honour their ancestors. But not all Koreans. Protestants are forbidden from performing ancestral rites because it’s considered worshipping gods/spirits other than God/Jesus/Holy Ghost.
There are quite a few tomb sites around the reservoir, but none as large, as impressive, and as secluded as this one. Most are within sight of houses and, although I’m not walking on graves or anything, I’m not sure how people would feel about me looking around and making photos.