When Jeju Was Tamna

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March 14, 2019, Song-eup, Jeju-

Korea abounds in traditional folk villages, as do many nations who seek to preserve their traditional culture-in the face on onrushing development and prosperity.  Jeju’s premier folk village, which I have visited on three other occasions, is Song-eup, not far from Songsan, in the eastern part of the island.

By chance, when Aram, Yoonhee and I arrived here, we were introduced to the same woman who had,as a newly-wed, told Penny and me about the way of life here, some thirty-two years ago.  I recognized her, though she didn’t remember me.  A good-natured, saucy young woman had matured into a dedicated advocated for preservation, with an encyclopedic knowledge of her subject.

These poles served as a gate.  If they were on the ground, this meant the residents were home and ready to receive guests.  If one pole was mounted, call out before entering.  If two poles were mounted, the residents were at home and did not wish to be disturbed.  If three poles were up, no one was at home.

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Song-eup proper was, and is, a walled community.  Pirates from Japan were known to occasionally stage raids on towns, in the eastern and southern coastal areas of Korea.  This was enough of a problem that Korean Admiral Yi Sun-shin, one of history’s greatest military commanders, led his sailors to victory over both the pirates and their imperial enablers, in the Imjin War of 1592-98.  The walls helped stem the pirate attacks, in the short term.

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This system of roof thatching was used by high and low alike, across Jeju.  The villagers on the west of the island used different material, but the system was the same.

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Stone guardians, nowadays called dolharubang, or “stone grandfathers”, graced the entrance to every village in Jeju.  They are now symbols of the island’s culture.  The one on the right is an example of  Koreans’ playful spirit.

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The black pig is one of Jeju’s primary domesticated animals-sometimes used as a watch animal, but more commonly raised as livestock.

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This house, with its foreroof, is an example of a wealthier person’s residence,as it has an up-step.

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Street art here is used mainly to depict animal figures prominent in Jeju lore- especially the dragon- here accompanied by snails.

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Here is an example of a more humble person’s residence,with no up-step.

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Roof thatch is replaced every five years.  These grubs are found, in the hundreds, thriving in the thatch.

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Usually, grinding stones in Korea were pulled by oxen.  On Jeju, horses pulled stones like this one.

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Masks were mounted as a defense against harm, in the days of shamanist Korea. Back then, Jeju was called Tamna.  Legend has Tamna established by three men, Go, Yang and Bu, who emerged from three holes-in an area, called Samseonghyol, that is still preserved in Jeju-shi.  Tamna simply means “island nation”, in Jeju’s indigenous language.  There are still a small number of indigenous Jejuans, living in the foothills of Halla-san.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

After thanking the docent for her time and sharing, we spent a few minutes in an educational institute, on the outskirts of Song-eup.  Here, another docent showed us more mock-ups of early village life.  Here is a display of an outdoor kitchen.

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As we walked towards the walled, main section of the village, we spotted a fuller example of a long cottage, with an up-step.

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This house was called the “House of Two Dragons”, by its early owner.  Thus, here is a sculpture of  the double threat.

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Stone guardians can reflect a wide variety of expressions.  Most are serious; some can be mirthful.  These are definitely not in a good mood.

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Here is the West Gate, through which we entered Song-eup proper.

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Here is  a full view of a Song-eup street.

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Large Korean cabbage, a primary ingredient in much kimchi, is a key crop of Jeju. It is related to the Chinese bok choi.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Han Bong-il, a wealthy farmer of old Jeju, left this farmstead to the government, which now preserves it as an historic home.

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This is the Peddler’s Inn, located in front of the main Guest House. The former housed people wishing to sell items to or supplicate the magistrate and other officials, who themselves stayed in the Guest House.

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Here is the main Guest House.

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This is the entrance to the  old seat of government in Song-eup.

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This is Mokgwana, the actual office of the magistrate.

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Large. old hackberry trees are often top heavy,with age.  This tree needed to be shored up by a system of cables and metal stands.

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At this Confucian school, another docent guided us around the areas that are open to the public, whilst explaining that the main courtyard was off-limits, due to an earlier high volume of traffic, detracting from the serenity of the place.

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Here is a fuller view of the school and courtyard.

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We left Song-eup, in a tranquil mood. Headed westward, we stopped at a rest area, to get this view of Halla-san, rising proudly in the background.

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The day was only half over!

NEXT:  Jusangjeoli and Jeongmyon- Two Wonders of Wind and Water

Where the Sun Greets Jeju-do

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March 14, 2019, Songsan, South Korea-

After a robust meal of kalbi (grilled ribs), at Kyodong Dok Kalbi, we retired to the Golden Tulip Hotel, in this eastern fishing and shellfish diving center.

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Our first stop, on a robust and happy day that will take us across the island, was Songsan Ilchulbong, a small promontory that is a favourite of locals and tourists alike, for greeting the sunrise.  We did not do so, as the sumptuous breakfast buffet of Golden Tulip beckoned first.

Once we did get to the site, though, we found a small course for riding a Cheju pony, similar to the ponies of Shetland.  Yunhee gladly rode the pony, even though it was a very brief experience.

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Although the coastal areas of Jeju are treeless, in most spots, an effort is being made to plant windbreak in some places around Songsan.

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Here is the volcanic promontory that beckoned us.  I was last up this hill, in February, 1992, with a small group of freshman students.

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Here is a view, from halfway up, of Songsan, in the morning light.  Halla-san, the highest peak on Jeju, and in South Korea, is seen in the distance, on the near left  side.

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There are many igneous boulders along the route.  Here is a particularly popular photo point for many Korean visitors:  Lamp Rock.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The image on the right side evokes a Grandmother’s kind visage.

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Two eyes appear to be watching, at this site of twin caves.

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The indentation below seems to fit my daughter-in-law perfectly!

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We made it to the top, so I chose this as my next profile picture on social media.

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Below, is a view of the crater, for which the summit of Ilchulbong is famous.  Yes, the hill is a dead cinder cone.

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Here is the southern, less inhabited part of Udo, an islet just across a small channel from Songsan.

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Here are the effects of constant saline deposits on this sedimentary boulder, in an area that hosts haenyo, or women who dive for abalone and sea cucumber.  The traditional divers are mainly found in Jeju, though some are in a handful of towns on the southern mainland coast.

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One haenyo is seen in the water, wearing a yellow diving vest.

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Here is the bell of Dongam-sa, a Buddhist temple at the foot of Ilchulbong.  A funeral was in progress when we visited, so we kept our visit quiet and short.

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Contrasting images of the Buddha are seen here.

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We ended our visit to Songsan, with a brief visit with an old friend.

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With that, we are off to Songeup Folk Village, for some reconnection with the farm folk of old Jeju.

 

 

Jeju, Part 2: Jeju Stone Park in Fresh Eyes

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March 13, 2019, Jeju-

My camera’s battery quit, midway through our Jeju Stone Park experience.  Fortunately, my son, Aram, who is also my co-host, had a fresh, new camera on hand. So, without further ado, here are twelve more photos of the park, chosen at random from those he shared with me.

I’d guess this is a frog-spirit, in prayer.

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Perhaps, this is a disconsolate basset hound.

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This could be a model of the lake, at the top of Mt. Halla.

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Here is a geode, turned into a globe.

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Paek Un-cheol had these mounted, back in Tamna Mokseokwon.

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This eerie scene features the Guardian Children, also brought from Mokseokwon.

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“Your turn to curtsy, my turn to bow.”

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Another dystopian scene-perhaps an anti-Stonehenge.

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The Museum, seen from the west.

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This great pile of boulders resembles a tumulus, particularly with the stone entrance way.

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This new institute for the furtherance of Jeju culture has several admirers, eagerly waiting for its 2020 opening.

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My daughter-in-law, a curator at the museum, and I are on our way off the grounds.

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Needless to say, I will be back in a few years, as Korea is certainly part of my extensive travel itinerary, post-retirement.

NEXT: Songsan Ilchulbong, Where the Sun Greets Jeju.

 

 

Jeju, Part 1: The Stone Dream of Mr. Paek

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March 13, 2019, Jeju, South Korea-

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There are new discoveries, in this life, constantly-and there are re-discoveries.  Today, the three of us headed down to Jeju, a burgeoning resort island, off Korea’s southwest coast.  From 1986-92, Penny and I were part of Jeju, serving as Visiting Professors of English, in two departments of Cheju National University.  Aram became part of the community, in 1988, being one of two American children born on the island, up to that point.

During that time, Mr. Paek Un-cheol, a spiritual gem of a man, was waging a small but concerted effort to preserve Jeju’s unique traditional culture.  He found an amazing variety of figures, made naturally by water and wind, among the volcanic rocks and driftwood that dotted various points along the island’s shores and on the mountain slopes of its interior.

His first effort, Tamna Mokseokwon, was a constant haven for us to visit and regain a natural semblance of order and serenity.  With his mother’s passing, and with development in the name of tourism becoming a growing threat to Jeju’s traditional culture, Mr. Paek found an ally in the same officials who were a driving force in that very tourism development, the Board of Supervisors of North Jeju County, the area comprising the northern half of the island outside Jeju City proper.  Jeju-shi, as it is known in Korean, has since subsumed the county, with Seogwip’o-shi (So-gi-PO) having subsumed the southern half of the island.

In 1999, the two sides found common ground in establishing Jeju Stone Park, and in 2005, the new park opened to the public.  We took in the eastern part of the park, and its museum, in the two hours we had.  Another visit, or two, looms in the future.  In this post, I will share those scenes captured, before my hard-working camera’s battery ran low.  In a second post, scenes captured by my son’s camera will be featured.

So, here are seventeen scenes to be found at Jeju Stone Park, a place that could easily enchant me for a full day, at minimum.

We found ourselves among the few remaining visitors, as this was a cold, brisk afternoon.

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These arrangements leave much to the imagination.  What do you suppose this rock resembles?

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Here are some traditional Jeju thatched roof houses.  One may stay in such a home, for W40,000 per night.

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Here, I envisioned a standing bear and a pair of witches.

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These nineteen steps commemorate Mr. Paek’s agreement with the County Board of Supervisors, in 1999.

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These are some of the figures I recognize from Tamna Mokseokwon.

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The legend of Grandmother Seolmundae is the impetus for the preservation of Jeju’s stone heritage.

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Here are more figures, transported from Mokseokwon.

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My precious ones are captivated.

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These stone “wishing towers” are meant to honour the spirits that are said to inhabit the countryside of Jeju.

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Perhaps this is a likeness of such a spirit.

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Mr. Paek and a team of engineers created Sky Pond, to set the mood for a visit to the Park’s museum, and to honour the element of water.

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The museum itself contains many examples of both stone and tree root art.  This is stone depiction of the island of Jeju and its tributary isles.

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Reach out to the stones, but do not touch!

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Perhaps this bird is wanting freedom from its tether.

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I see duck, or perhaps a platypus.

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Here might stand a  Hadrosaur, or horn-billed dinosaur.

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In the next post, my son’s new camera will provide more magic, both in the museum and beyond.  What he found has convinced me to return to Jeju Stone Park, most likely during my envisioned lengthy travels, a few years hence. Then, I will wish to stay in one of those traditional Jeju houses.

 

 

Hanok Village: History as Enterprise, Part II

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March 11, 2019, Jeonju, South Korea-

As promised, I continue here with the second half of our little family’s tour of this blend of history and modern entrepreneurship.  It most closely reminds me of the Belgian city of Bruges, in that regard.

We felt the need for lunch, so we stopped at Kyodong Dok Kalbi, which offers a limited number of pibimbap dishes, along with a chopped, pressed and pre-cooked version of Kalbi (beef or pork ribs).   Their herbarium provides many of the key ingredients.

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Here, my Korean relatives observe the round of side dishes, which are essential in any true Korean meal. There are usually a few varieties of kimchi, steamed spinach, some small sardines, buckwheat noodles, and some cold pressed vegetable gelatin.  Miso (fermented soup) and a bowl of white rice accompany the meat.  We ate using chopsticks and a large spoon.

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Having eaten our fill of satisfying dok kalbi and “fixings”, we felt content as cherubim.

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So, we walked along the road that leads to a straw-roofed complex.  We came upon this irrigation stream, with various animals of the Oriental zodiac as conduits for the water.

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The fortunate woman has a husband who is willing to be her servant, at least on occasion.

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Jeonju is largely devoid of street murals, so this vertical rainbow was a sublime surprise.

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Many Korean families have at least a small garden plot.  This one is at a traditional Tea House, where we stopped for cups of medicinal herbal tea.

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It is the Tea House which sports the traditional “Jeobuk” straw roof.  The proprietress was surprised at the approach of a mixed group of Koreans and Americans, but was very gracious.

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To the east of Hanok, there lies a shanty area, climbing the hillside.  I took this photo from the Tea House grounds.  Later, we would get closer to the settlement, which lies across a divided highway.

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Here are the flowers of the cauliflower plant.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFor those wishing to sip their tea in an indoor setting, there is a silk-covered mat, on which one sits cross-legged.  The pearl-inlay chest is a common decor in many Korean homes.

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These yellow buttercups match their vase.

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This small shrine blesses the garden plants.

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Outside this small shrine is a depiction of one of the scenes from the Ten Ox-Herding Series, an allegory of one man’s quest for spiritual enlightenment.

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Here is a small Buddhist shrine.

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As we arrived at the edge of the highway, I looked across to the shanty, and spotted Edward Scissorhands.

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We left the heights and went back down to the main street of Hanok, passing this traditional pavilion, a gathering place in Jeoson days.

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Next, along the way, was the place where King Taejo was crowned first monarch of the Jeoson Dynasty.

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The coronation courtyard is graced by this stone wheel, dating from 1392.

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These stone lions guard the entrance to a nearby guest house.

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Thus ended our four-hour visit to Jeonju Hanok Village.  There is much more to this bustling district.  Perhaps a future visit will mean an overnight stay.

Feeling the need for some rejuvenation, we went to Damyang Spa Resort, about forty minutes north of the farmstead.  There, we experienced sauna, hot and cold waters, and I underwent a thorough treatment from an exfoliation specialist, a sort of masseur, who scrubbed me, head to toe, with a rough cloth, then rubbed cleansing oil.

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Hanok Village: History as Enterprise, Part 1

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March 11, 2019, Jeonju, South Korea-

After a  brief walk around the farmstead of  my hosts, Shin Dongwhon and Park Miwha (Many Korean women keep their maiden names, even in marriage), they, the new Mr. & Mrs. Boivin and I headed for Jeonju, the capital of Jeolla Buk-do (North Jeolla Province), famous for the hot pot, known as pibimbap (rice, mixed with vegetables, chopped meat and egg, then garnished with hot pepper sauce).  It is also well-known for maintaining historical buildings, as it is the birthplace of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897).  The dynasty was founded by General Yi Song-gye, who became King Taejo as a result. He and his heirs instilled a strong Confucian ethos into Korean culture.  They also built Korea’s legacy of distinct language and literature. King Taejo’s heirs included his fourth-born son, who became Sejong the Great.  King Sejong, one of the seminal figures of Korean history, was committed to universal education.  In order for the masses to become literate more easily and quickly, Sejong commissioned the development of a phonetic alphabet, Hangul, which is still commonly used today.  He also commissioned the development of movable type, about the same time as Johannes Gutenberg was developing a movable type printing press, in what is now Germany.

With all this rich history, I was surprised that the emphasis in Jeonju’s historic district was not so much on telling the tale as on showing the buildings as they were and on the selling of goods and services.  Of course, any living community has to strike a balance between legacy and functionality, as Salem, MA, San Juan Capistrano, CA, St. Augustine, FL, Heidelberg, DEU-and Gyongju- a living history city,  in eastern South Korea, have all done.

Here are some photos of the day’s festivities- first of the farmstead, then of Jeonju Hanok Village.  First,  here is the home to which I was welcomed.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The koi pond has some rather shy inhabitants.

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Building stones and ollas (for storing kimchi) are essential to any Korean farmstead.

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A newborn rabbit needed warmth and safety.  He is hidden in the shorn fur of one of his elders.

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The rooster and his ladies were in full voice, this morning.

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This is a row of pine windbreak.

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This is  a view of Mr. Shin’s field.

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There, to greet us and send us off, is “Buri” (Barley), the family porch dog.   Korean farm dogs are rarely, if ever, allowed inside the house.

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Now let’s have a look at the first set of photos  of Jeonju Hanok Village.  Below, is the Hanok Visitors’ Center.

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Yunhee and her parents, in front of commemorative stone.

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Our side of the coin.

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“It still could snow, this Spring.”  Here is a traditional Jeollabuk-do tiled roof.

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More traditional Jeollabuk-do tile-roofed houses. Many of these are Guest Houses.

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This is the Year of the Boar, in the Lunar New Year configuration.

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Traditional Chollabuk-do home, with walled courtyard and shrines.

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Here are hanbok, traditional Korean formal dress.

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Here is a more upscale version of the Chollabuk-do tiled roof.  It was probably the home of a wealthy merchant or minor official.

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A more modern variation of traditional water wheel.

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These traditional shirts are actually made of paper.  We visited a paper-making establishment and saw various products, made of durable paper.

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Yunhee is watching a traditional demon mask, made of heavy paper.

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Mrs. Park is demonstrating traditional grain milling.

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It was a little chilly for an outdoor lunch, so we admired the courtyard and moved on.

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Here are some household decorations that graced a merchant’s home, in the early 20th Century.

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Here is a hilltop pavilion, probably used as Confucian shrine.

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“Spring is on its way”, say the cherry blossoms.

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A heavy-duty community level water wheel.

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Commemorative stone, indicating road leading to Confucian shrine.

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There are a number of other photos to share, of this large historic district.  I will post these in the next installment.

 

Changes and Chances

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February 16, 2019, San Diego-

When I set out this morning, from Blythe, I half-expected to see nothing but clouds and moisture, once past the San Gabriels and Mt. San Jacinto.  Neither happened, and while a few clouds sent sprinkles our way, here and there, the weather was cool but pleasant.

With a friend in Riverside County at work and not available to visit, I headed for Old Town Temecula, a place I’ve found off-putting in the past, due to the invariably high volume of traffic spilling onto the I-15 freeway.

The half-mile or so, of preserved and reconstructed buildings gives a trendy air to the historic ambiance of Old Town. It’s not Bisbee, or even Virginia City, but Temecula has charm in abundance.  There is an abundance of wineries in the area, for those so inclined.

I am strictly a coffee/tea person, so my refreshment stop was at Press On, a crowded, happy shop, in the midst of Old Town’s Front Street. The shop is on the left side of the photo below.

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Temecula’s history is shown in a mural, two frames of which are shown below.

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Here are some other scenes of Old Town.

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Temecula’s City Hall is quite impressive.  The water in the front fountain is not frozen, despite its appearance. It didn’t get quite that cold today.

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Humour, of course, helped people get along in the most rambunctious of times.

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Thus invigorated, I headed towards San Diego, for a bit of reminiscence.  On the way, I encountered a vehicle darting diagonally across I-215, between Temecula and Escondido.  The driver managed to stop the vehicle and set it aright, on the grass shoulder of the highway, just shy of a very steep ravine.  I hope to never see such a thing again, but who can say what frights await, in the days and years ahead?

In San Diego, I spent some time at Tuna Harbor, part of the city’s wondrous shoreline and a monument to the civilian fishermen who served as lookouts for the Coast Guard, keeping an eye out for Japanese naval forays, during World War II.  Here, I had a nice,cheap seafood meal, at Marion’s, and caught these lovely sunset views.

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It is a great evening, in a very homey city. I will head north, to Carlsbad, for a night’s rest.  Then, will come a couple of visits with friends, in two very different parts of SoCal, tomorrow. Hopefully, the weather will hold up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honest Abe and the First Nations

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February 12, 2019-

It is human nature to approach, and evaluate, other people by the same standards one holds to oneself.  It takes a lot of open-mindedness, and patience, for the average person to view people of different cultures as those of different cultures view themselves.  When  homogenization of cultural viewpoint takes deep root in a nation’s dominant culture, there is the appearance, if not the reality, of racism.

From thence, has risen the persistent assessment of people not of the dominant culture as being somehow inferior to those assimilated to said culture.  President Abraham Lincoln, on several occasions, hosted First Nations delegations, at the White House, during various points during his Presidency.  His purpose was to encourage them to assimilate into “the Christian culture of the majority of American citizens.” , as he regarded traditional ways of the nomadic among the indigenous peoples, and their non-Christian traditional Faith Communities, to be just shy of barbaric.

Not addressing the more than 200 years of atrocities committed by Europeans against both First Nations people and African-Americans, in the contiguous territory of the United States, and the nearly 200 earlier years of brutality against people of colour in other parts of the Americas, Mr. Lincoln, perhaps pre-occupied with the Civil War, found time to carefully evaluate, and dismiss all but 38 of the cases against 302 Lakota fighters, for alleged atrocities against the settlers of European descent, in the newly admitted State of Minnesota, during the six-week Dakota War of 1862.  Those 38 men were executed, in the largest non-combat execution act in U.S. History.

His record is far murkier, and less circumspect, with regard to the Sand Creek Massacre, in Colorado 1864 and the Long Walk, of Dineh and Inde (Navajo and Apache) people, from their traditional lands to Boque Redondo, in eastern New Mexico, beginning in 1863.  The Homestead Act and Pacific Railway Act of 1862 made settlement by European-Americans easier, and movement of goods far more efficient, but made no consideration, at all, of the needs of First Nations residents.

In fairness, Lincoln sincerely believed in the importance of  “civilizing” the First Nations people, which the leaders of those Nations, far from being ignorant or savage, viewed as both ironic and ludicrous, given the “brother against brother” reality of much of the “War Between the States”.  Cochise and, later, Geronimo,  saw the propensity for fighting among all groups in the Southwest as being pandemic:  Whites against whites, whites and Mexicans against each other, both groups against First Nations-and vice versa,

Lincoln espoused forward-looking policies towards southern slaves, primarily to ruin the economy of the Confederacy, whilst viewing people of African descent as being “legally” 3/5 of a free white man and viewing indigenous people as only worth the price of the land from which they might be removed-unless they became Christian. Abraham Lincoln was a man of his times, and can’t really be judged solely by the standards of our own imperfect era, however much more enlightened we might like to view ourselves.  He does not, however, deserve to be regarded as a universal emancipator of all those who were being persecuted during his tenure.

My own view is that people of various groups are more alike than different and that we, of each group, have more to learn from one another than we have to impart on others.  This, I have learned, consistently, from visiting many areas of this country-and some parts of other countries.

The Old Year’s New Friends

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December 30, 2018, Prescott-

This fading year brought new people and places into my life, and filtered this life, quite vigourously.

My new friends, both online and in real time, have greatly enriched my life- being both sweet/warm and hot/ferocious.  One needs both in a balanced life.  I am blessed with a new daughter-in-law;  two wonderful branches of a blended family being brought into ours-courtesy of another family  wedding this past summer; a very bright and much-loved grandniece born in February; a smattering of vibrant, creative friends, from this year’s Convergence at Arcosanti; all manner of beloved souls from that site called “Archaeology for the Soul” and so many with whom I just happen to bond, in my wanderings both physical and ethereal.

I have filtered some- though I continue to feel great love for a place called Dharma Farm, prudence has led me to keep physical distance from there, for the time being.  A brief encounter with a distraught soul, this past Autumn, was also brought to an end, at her insistence, and no doubt with the blessing of the Universe.  I am more in tune with the needs of a good friend, here in Prescott.  Communication is everything!  I also dispensed with Twitter, though that means saying farewell to some friends who are only reachable on that medium.

This year brought some new cafes and restaurants into my life, here in town: Ms. Natural’s, Rustic Pie, Firehouse Coffee, Outlaw Donuts , Rosati’s Pizza and Danny B’s (actually in Chino Valley). I have lost none of my older faves here, save Black Dog Coffee,which bid us farewell in November.

New to me, on the road, this year, are Old Town Albuquerque; Moriarty (NM); Salina (UT); Sedalia (MO); Nauvoo and Carthage (IL); Ridgeview Grill ( Wilmette); Lafayette/West Lafayette/Prophetstown State Park’Tippecanoe and Mishawaka (IN); Ridgetown and London (ON); Toronto; Auberge Bishop, Chicha Donburi and La Pantere Verte (Montreal); Plattsburgh/Ausable Chasm (NY); Valley Forge; Alexander Inn and Independence Hall (Philadelphia);  Hostels International, Fort McHenry and Iron Rooster (Baltimore); the Western Shore of Chesapeake Bay; Jamestown/Yorktown/ Virginia Beach/Newport News; Louis Gregory Baha’i Institute/Hemingway (SC); Hot Plate (Timmonsville,SC); New Moon Cafe (Aiken); Calhoun Falls State Park /Edgefield (SC); Falls Park on the Reedy/Smoke On The Water (Greenville, SC); Walterboro (SC); Salisbury and Asheville (NC); Crossville (TN); Hostel Memphis/Young Avenue Deli/The National Museum of Civil Rights/Arcade Restaurant/Beale Street (Memphis); Old Town Alexandria. Each of these just added richness to this much blessed life and I would gladly visit any of them again.

NEXT:  Hails and Farewells

Samson

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December 27, 2018, Prescott-

The evening dinner and discourse, at a good friend’s house, went very well, actually- as I am just not attached to those aspects of my personality that someone finds disconcerting.  The run-up to, and expectations of, a conversation about what people expect from one another, can be uncomfortable and filled with trepidation.  Thankfully, I felt no such angst, once I recited a strong prayer, this afternoon.  My friend was not sure how I would react to her comments, but you know, what she asked is so totally reasonable and fair, that my answer was “Absolutely!” That is how I was raised- with Mom telling us not to hold back with our upsets and distresses, so long as they were stated with dignity and a bit of forbearance.  So, the evening went, a nice meal, a respectful concord and the viewing of the film, “Samson”.

Therein, the story of the Hebrew leader and freedom fighter is depicted, with an earnest but troubled Samson, opposed by both some of his more militant Danite villagers and by the Phillistines, ruled by Balek and his ambitious, conniving son, Rallah, and daughter-in-law, Delilah.  It is Delilah who tricks Samson, three times, into giving the royals the information and strength they need to oppress the Danites and Nazarites.  Rallah, though, is portrayed as a sociopath, killing Samson’s wife and father-in-law, two turncoat Hebrews and Samson’s father, before killing his own father, so as to take the crown.  The tale ends, much as it does in the Old Testament.

Samson’s main point is about integrity and humility, with the superhuman giving all credit for his strength to God, not disputing with his Hebrew opponents, and facing the Phillistine’s challenges without batting an eye.  He experiences angst about not following the letter of the law, whilst removing tunics from dead soldiers, thereby breaking a vow to never touch the dead.  The angst follows Samson, for other actions, throughout the story.

I am likewise committed to integrity and self-purification.  Not being a superhuman, or a member of an oppressed community, my own actions have to be about maintaining both my own dignity and worth, and honouring those of my friends.  It’ll never be a matter of “self-defense”, when questioned or corrected, especially by those who have consistently had my best interests in mind.