[WOW Korea] Gochang and Gimje Horizon Festival

In this week’s #wowkoreasupporters mission we will be introducing that places that we will be visiting on our 3rd tour next weekend, Gochang and also the Gimje Horizon Festival which we will be visiting! These two are not so common tourist destinations so I’m very glad that I have the opportunity to introduce them to you so that you can get more information when you visit these places!

Gochang

Gochang county is located in Jeollabuk-do, on the west coast of South Korea. It is really a place worth exploring because it is not only a place filled with many historical relics, but a place of natural beauty as well (it is actually a designated UNESCO protected biosphere reserve for its mudflats, wetlands and mountain park!). If you are visiting Gochang, here’s 2 recommended sites that you should definitely visit!

If you’ve watched some variety shows in Korea, you might have seen mudflats appearing very often.

Source: Kookje Shinmun

Lee Haru from popular variety show “Return of Superman” catching seafood in the mudflats. Source: Kookje Shinmun

Source: OSEN

Song Il-kook and his triplets also on “Return of Superman” playing in the mudflats on a recent episode. Source: OSEN

Have you ever wondered where all these mudflats are? Are they really so common in Korea? In fact, since I’ve not been to a mudflat where I can actually play in the mud or look at all these sea creatures, I’ve always wondered how it would feel to visit one of these mudflats.

It turns out that Gochang actually is home to the Hajeon Tideland on the coast of the Gomso /Jeulpo Bay, and it is listed as one of the 100 most beautiful fishing villages by the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries. You can not only catch clams and other sea creatures, but also have the chance to take a mudflat taxi! The view is also breathtaking as you can see in the video below from Arirang:

For more information you can refer to the website here: http://english.gochang.go.kr/index.gochang?menuCd=DOM_000001106007000000

Apart from the nature of Gochang, you should also experience the rich cultural history of Gochang! In fact, Gochang houses the most Dolmen sites in Korea, and was also designated as UNESCO World Heritage site. Dolmen were graves made in the Neolithic to Bronze Age, and is an important part of Korea’s prehistoric records, proof that there were inhabitants on the Korean peninsula at that time

One of the dolmen sites in Gochang was even featured on the stamps in Korea before! Source: http://blog.daum.net/yong8674/17043812

One of the dolmen sites in Gochang was even featured on the stamps in Korea in 2003! Source: http://blog.daum.net/yong8674/17043812

More information on Dolmen sites on KTO website: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264577

And as a sidenote to any modern Korean history enthusiasts, famous capitalist of the early 20th century and more importantly founder of Korea University and DongA Ilbo, Kim Songsu (김성수) hailed from Gochang and you can find his house. It is also a good chance to explore his house as an example of houses that people of his status lived in at that time.

Map to Kim Songsu’s house (인촌김성수선생생가) :


Gimje Horizon Festival

Now let’s move on to the festival in Gimje! As some of you may know, Korea was (and perhaps still is) quite the rice exporter especially in the early 20th century, and the rice cultivation culture goes way back. The Gimje Horizon Festival thus seeks to celebrate the 5000-year rice farming tradition of Korea, since Gimje is often recognized as the birthplace of rice cultivation on the Korean peninsula.

The reason for this is the Byeokgolje, one of the main reservoirs of Korea showcasing its irrigation facilities in the past. There is also a legend that comes with the Byeokgolje. It is said that a young girl, Danya, doved into the waters of Byeokgolje in an attempt to save her lover being washed away, and her act touched the water gods, who then came to serve as protectors of the Byeokgolje as the two dragons.

The protectors of the Byeokgolje. Source: Youtube.com

The protectors of the Byeokgolje. Source: Youtube.com

The festival this year will run from October 1st to 5th, and there is a wide range of activities lined up! From kite flying with the most number of participants and making the longest injeolmi, to actually experiencing harvest or playing tug-of-war, there is sure to be an activity that will interest you. There will also be fireworks and some other night activities so be sure to stay till the sun sets!

For more information, refer to their official website here: http://festival.gimje.go.kr/english/

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