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Yanglim-dong: A Journey through Time양림동 근대역사문화마을
오희수 기자  |  heesu1011@naver.com
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승인 2015.05.11  10:48:12
트위터 페이스북 미투데이 요즘 네이버 구글 msn

▲ The Owen Memorial Hall

     Yanglim-dong is the special area where modern and contemporary cultures coexist as a first crossroad for religion and culture in Gwangju to adopt Christianity and western culture. Now, the Nam-gu Office offers a tour course “Yanglim Dulle-gil” to people and wants to make itself a cultural town. With the help of the mass media, more and more visitors are coming to see the place from all over the country. You will also meet the youth traveling with a Railro pass touring with their friends. The Tribune reporter visited Yanglim-dong and traced back to more than one hundred years ago with a cultural heritage commentator to introduce this place to CNU students.

Modern Historical Culture
     At the entrance of the village, the old traditional houses boast their graceful and beautiful features. Among these houses, you should visit Lee Jang-woo’s House and Choei Seung-hyo’s House, which were designated as Gwangju Metropolitan Folklore Materials in 1989 and are also well known to local residents. He mentioned about the related episode of Choi Seung-hyo’s House. Its original owner, Choi Sang-hyeon was a Korean independence activist and offered his attic as a hiding place for other activists. The house became more valuable in that it was a meeting place of the members of the independence movement at that time. The house is not open to the public at any time. People who want to look around the house need to make a reservation in advance. 

▲ Yanglim village visitors listening to a cultural heritage commentator's explanation at the Choi Seung-hyo's House

     Going along the path behind the two houses, there are many historical places which were the cradle of modern Western culture. Thanks to many missionaries who brought great changes in the educational and medical fields, this place bloomed about one hundred years ago. When you visit here, your first impression would be somewhat different from other villages because of its exotic scenery. Missionary Wilson’s House, which shows the representative example of a modern western-style building, has beautiful scenery in the garden that changes according to the seasons. You may feel that Mr. Wilson welcomes you at the front gate. 
     According to his explanation, Yanglim-dong was a gateway to Christian culture in the early 1900s, and its modern architecture including corroded pillars and stone stairs hold memories from historical events. The Owen Memorial Hall is a typical example. It took a role as a cultural complex at that time, and March First Movement for Korean national independence from Japan was held at the hall in 1919. The most impressive thing about these historical places is that they are relatively well preserved and have tangible and intangible cultural heritage, which are the valuable legacy of our past generations.

▲ Penguin Jumak (Korean public house) in the Penguin Village

Yanglim Cultural Community 
     Some people might think that the neighborhood is just a well-known modern historical and cultural place. However, it has been changing to become a pubic friendly space. Some places are attractive enough to catch the visitor’s eyes. Interesting exhibits such as ceramic installations and artworks across various genres are throughout the village. They are the result of the Yanglim Public Art Project that encouraged local residents to be involved in art activities in order to make the village a better and special place with rich culture and diverse spectacles. As a part of the project, a small handcraft workshop named “Dogle Dogle” is offering crafty experiences for residents and visitors, where everyone can make their own pottery or hand-painted mugs.
     “Penguin Village” is hidden between narrow alleys and may be overlooked by visitors. At the entrance of the village, there is a meeting place named “Penguin Inn” where some locals gather and have a friendly talk. It is a must-see place for visitors and also a meeting place for all the residents. In the village, “Penguin Vegetable Garden” is filled with cute little things on display. It was full of trash as an abandoned part of the village but one local resident started to clean it and made a small garden. Now, it has transformed into a gathering spot for local residents and visitors.

▲ Penguin Vegetable Garden

     With the number of visitors to Yanglim Dulle-gil increasing, some eating places such as a theme café or a snack bar have become popular. The representative examples are Dahyoung Dabang and Yanglim-dong Tteokbokki. Dahyoung Dabang is a self-service stand coffeehouse, not managed by one specific owner but by people who visit the place. So, the visitors can get some prepared instant coffee or tea and look around the brief history of Yanglim-dong hanging on the walls at the café. Yanglim-dong Tteokbokki is also a famous snack bar and café. Actually, some visitors often come only because of the good tasting tteokbokki, a popular Korean snack made with spicy rice cakes and toasted cheese.

Cultural Village Connecting Past to Present
     Yanglim-dong which combines the traditional, the modern and the contemporary cultures, is currently becoming an excellent case that builds local cultural prosperity and cultural community. It is also a must-see tour course in Gwangju. May is a good season to walk with your friends and family. The cross point between the past and the present will give you good memories of this month. The cultural village may be small but its mood will welcome you with its cozy atmosphere. Then, how about visiting Yanglim-dong?

By Oh Hee-su, Student Editor

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