• Updated : 2019.5.23 목 16:33
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Mokpo: City of Modern History and Culture
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승인 2016.09.09  14:26:34
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▲ The front view of the Mokpo Modern History Museum 1

    Many people recall a harbor and Mountain Yudalsan when they hear about Mokpo. The city is actually cooler than the breeze from the harbor and more colorful than the leaves of the mountain. Mokpo has a Modern Culture Street which shows its modern history and culture. During the Japanese colonial era, the area was the center of the town and many buildings of the period still remain. Vestiges of the Japanese occupation are just a part of various attractions in Mokpo. Despite the gloomy history, the city still shines brightly with its own attractive places, cultural and historical values.

Modern History and Architectures in the City
    The remaining buildings from the Japanese colonial era have been used for different purposes. The place named “Na Sang-su House” is now used as a café. The house looks different from traditional Korean houses because it was built in the Japanese style and its owner remodeled the house into a restaurant. Many tourists visit this place because of its uniqueness. The former Japanese Consulate building was used as the Mokpo City Hall, a Public Library and the Mokpo Culture Center until February, 2014. This building is now used as the Mokpo Modern History Museum 1 which displays all of Mokpo’s history and culture. Elaborate miniatures in the museum show the streets of Mokpo in the past. Mokpo Ogeori (a five-way crossing) was a commercial center and the most developed place in the city was impressive. Around the streets, there were a variety of shops such as restaurants, bars, grocery stores, inns and photo studios.

▲ The front view of the Mokpo Modern History Museum 2

    The old Dongyang Choeksik (Oriental Development) Company building is used as the Mokpo Modern History Museum 2. On the first floor, 73 pictures of old Mokpo’s landscape are displayed. The last Princess of the Joseon Dynasty, Deok-hye and King Young-chin are on display in 83 pictures on the second floor. Visitors not only feel sad and somewhat frightened but also empathize with Korea’s history. According to media reports, the number of people who want to know about the history of Mokpo has been increasing. One of the museum officials, Kim Myung-ji said, “Recently, about 250~300 people have visited the museum each day during the summer. The number of Chinese visitors is also increasing. I hope this museum would be used as a place to learn about the modern history and diplomatic situations facing Korea.”

Fine Art in the City
    At the ridge of Yudalsan, the view of the Nojeokbong Art Park with many colorful houses is wonderful. On the first floor of the main building lies an art museum, which aims to focus on the way to become the cultural center of the city by popularizing art exhibitions. There is no entrance fee and the location is at the foot of the mountain, so the journey to the art park can be a leisurely trip.

▲ Contemporary art pieces of artists from Jeonnam region in the Sungok Memorial Hall

    When visitors enter Sungok Memorial Hall, there are two different exhibition halls of traditional Korean art pieces and contemporary art pieces. The memorial hall is dedicated to the late Lee Hun-dong, a founder of the Chosun Refractories Company. Sungok Cultural Foundation holds invitation exhibitions of artists from the Jeonnam region at the contemporary art exhibition hall, which is narrow but full of artists’ passion. Visitors do not have to pay an entrance fee and can freely buy the artists' masterpieces. The manager of this memorial hall, Jo Sun-hyun, said, “This town is located at the end of Yudalsan, but it can be said to be the starting point of Yudalsan. Mokpo is not a tourist city but a slow city. You can find various old things when you walk along the streets in the city. To promote the art industry of Jeonnam, we mainly display paintings by artists who are from Jeonnam.”

Resident Friendly Mountain, Yudalsan
    Yudalsan is 228m high. In comparison with Mt. Mudeungsan at 1,187m, it seems like a burdenless challenge for mountain climbers. Its landscape is amazing. Kim Jong-su, one of the mountain climbers who this reporter met while climbing the mountain said, “Climbing this mountain is like a walk in the park for Mokpo citizens.” Yudalsan Dulle-gil trail also captivates travelers and mountain climbers with its natural shape and surrounding rocks. Yudalsan is friendly for Mokpo residents, but it has a historical significance related to Admiral Yi Sun-shin. In the middle of the mountain, there is a statue of Admiral Yi Sun-shin. Nojeokbong Peak which is a large boulder covered with straw and looks like a pile of harvested rice crops. The name of the peak was inspired by Yi Sun-shin’s strategy in 1592 when the Japanese invasion occurred.

▲ The statue of Admiral Yi Sun-shin in the middle of Mountain Yudalsan

Other Ways to Enjoy Mokpo
    If tourists visit the city, they can watch the Change of Naval Forces Ceremony on October 1 and 15 at Mokpojin History Park. Some local residents who dress up like the navy will reenact the ceremony. Visitors can also learn traditional Korean dancing in Yimaebang Memorail Center every day except Sunday. Ubong Yi Mae-bang is one of the intangible cultural assets of Mokpo and he tries to keep not only his dance but also the value of Korea’s dance alive with succession.
    Mokpo City Hall operates Bus Tours every day except Monday. The fee is 5000 won and it will take you to Yudalsan, Mokpo Modern History Museum, Samhakdo, Gatbawi and so on. It starts from Mokpo Train Station and comes back at the end of the journey again so visitors can use the train. Not just for a daytime city tour but they have a sightseeing tour at night too. The Street of Lights, Yudalsan and Mokpo Bridge are decorated with bright and colorful lights at night. In addition to the modern history of Mokpo, it is fun and beautiful for travelers.

By Choi Hae-ri, Tribune Reporter

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