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Looking for Cultural PorpertiesA Foreigner's Trip to Yeosu
Tauhid Ahmed 언어교육원 한국어강좌 수강생  |  tribune@cnumedia.com
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승인 2008.01.19  13:06:04
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A Foreigner's Trip to Yeosu 

- Looking for Cultural Porperties -



By Tauhid Ahmed, Korean Government Scholarship Student, Bangladesh
Photo by Kwon Jeong-ha,
Tribune Reporter



Yeosu citizens gave a shout of joy early in the morning on November 27, 2007 when the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) selected Yeosu as the site of the International Exposition 2012 with the theme “The Living Ocean and Coast: Diversity of Resources and Sustainable Activities”. Last December 16, Kwon Jeong-ha, a Tribune reporter and Ahmed, a foreign student from Bangladesh, went on a trip to Yeosu. They looked around at the cultural properties in Yeosu. Before holding the 2012 Expo, let’s hang onto his story with the viewpoint of a foreigner. -Ed.

 

   
     
 

▲ Ahmed looking up at the eaves of Daeungjeon

 
  Before Yeosu will be crowded with many foreigners to see the Expo in 2012, I was fortunate to get a chance to look around Yeosu with Jeong-ha last month. We planned our trip and entitled it with a theme “Looking for Cultural Properties in Yeosu”. Among many cultural and historical places we chose three places; Jinnamgwan designated as National Treasure No. 304, Heungguksa that has several Treasures and Dolsandaegyo, the largest cable-stayed girder bridge in Korea.
 

Appreciating Heungguksa

  Our first destination was Heungguksa. From the Yeosu bus terminal it took 40 minutes to get to Heungguksa on a city bus and I could see many huge industrial complexes on the way to the temple. On the other hand, there were places which lag behind the industrial development. The gap seems pretty big and it was one of several unusual experiences on the Yeosu trip. 
 

  After getting off the bus you can see the gate of temple which is called Iljumun that means the starting gate of temple. So when I passed through this gate, I could think that I am in a temple now. On the way to the temple there was a graveyard of Buddhist monks, which is called the Budo. Relics of monk Jinul who founded this temple remain in this graveyard. I marveled that there are relics inside of the Budo because it was the first time to see the pagoda for relics. After passed through the second gate, Cheonwangkmun, I finally looked around the inside of Heungguksa.
 

  There was a small museum in this temple. Fortunately, we met a guide when we walked into the museum. He explained about Buddhism, the history of Heungguksa and treasures in Heungguksa. It was a priceless chance to make out the historical beauty in Yeosu. I saw a portrait of Buddha named Nosanabulgwaebultaeng in the museum. Its name is too long to memorize. This invaluable portrait was made in 1732 and is 5.3 meter wide and is 13 meter long.

I cannot imagine how they could make it 300 years ago! It was really a perfect painting and big in size more so than I have ever seen before. This portrait was designated as a treasure of Korea. There was no proper place to keep it safely then, so they kept it by rolling it up in a tree casket for 200 years. But lately, after constructing the museum they started displaying it in the museum, after that, it is going to fade day by day because of the bad public display environment.


  The heart of the temple is the main building called Daeungjeon. Monk Jinul, founder of Heungguksa, considered Yeosu as a city of the sea. For this reason he considered Daeungjeon as a floating ship on the sea and thought Buddha can relieve many people from suffering. So monk Jinul thought it is impossible to set up a stone pagoda in front of Daeungjeon, although there is a stone pagoda in the other temple. Instead, there is a carved turtle carrying a stone light piggyback. Even so, there are also other sculptured animals and plants of the sea like dragons, crabs and a sea squirt. So when I first saw Daeungjeon I could feel Yeosu as a city near sea.

Daeungjeon of Heungguksa is a treasure of Korea. This building was constructed in 1624, but still now you will feel that beauty is just as it was long ago. Everyone will be surprised to see the splendid painting under the roof of the building; it looks like they used many colors to paint it but only five colors. As a Muslim, I thought that maybe it would be impossible for me to enter Daeungjeon but the guide of the temple recommended to me. At first I was embarrassed for a moment, but when I entered it was nice inside and gave me another special experience.
 

  The last treasure we saw at Heungguksa is Hongkyo. It is a bridge without any pillars. This rainbow shaped bridge was designed very strongly and it was built in the year of 1639. Before leaving there, we crossed the bridge and I could sense and feel the spirit of the long historical period.

   
 
 

▲ Hongkyo, one of treasures in Heungguksa

 


National Treasure, Jinnamgwan

  My second destination was Jinnamgwan that is the only national treasure in Yeosu. So I am sure that it is a representative place of Yeosu. At Jinnamgwan, I could learn many things related to Korean history. The famous Korean Admiral, Lee Sun-sin, used this building as a base of Jeollajwasuyoung, the naval camp on the left side of Jeollado, in 1592 during the Korea- Japan war. When I first saw this construction, I was amazed at the large scale.

It was too long to see the whole at a glance. I heard it is the greatest national single story wooden building that still exists. Its height is 14 meter, length is 75 meter and 68 big size wood pillars of 2.4 meter girth support the roof of the building. I have got the smell of old wood in Jinnamgwan. This smell makes me think of how old the wood really is! It is really a wonderful feeling that I have not had before.
 

    There is also a small museum just on the right side on the way of going up to Jinnamgwan. Actually, I did not know anything about Admiral Lee Sun-sin before coming here. I learned many things about him by visiting the museum. Although this museum is small, it shows various things related to the 1592 Korea-Japan War. When I entered the museum, suddenly I got to hear an artificial sound, I thought it is a live sound and maybe the war is happening somewhere around the museum.

So I felt scared but enjoyed the occasion very much. There is a miniature warship, Geobuksun. It was the first time to see that and I was full of admiration for the Admiral’s wisdom to defeat such a large number of enemies with some warships. Another excellent exhibit of the museum is a trap model of war which was used during the Korean-Japan War. It shows how the enemy’s boat fell into a trap on the way to Yeosu by the navy. I laughed to see this idea how they deceive enemies. Really interesting! And also there are several replica diaries of Lee Sun-sin named Nanjungilgi in the museum.He wrote them during the war. I think he had a good sense to hand down information of his activities to the next generation by writing dairies. I had a really great time at Jinnamgwan, observing a historical building and of course knowing about the history of Lee Sun-sin.

     
       
 

▲ A well in the backyard of Jinnamgwan

   

 

Unforgettable Scenery, Dolsandaegyo

  At the end of day, I went to Dolsandaegyo(Dolsan Bridge). And I was delighted to see the beauty of the bridge when the sun was setting. Dolsandaegyo looks like the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. This bridge connects the seventh largest island with the mainland of Korea. But the critical point of this bridge is its width. I saw a lot of car crossing the bridge slowly. So it created a traffic jam on both sides of the bridge. After four years, when Yeosu will host the “Expo Exposition,” this city will be busier than now. Everything will be increased after “Expo Exposition,” and of course people and cars.
  
  It will put pressure on the bridge in the coming future, so I think it needs another alternative to solve this problem. I heard that Dolsan Island is famous for producing Got Kimchi. I ate it at lunch; no doubt that is the most delicious Kimchi of Korea. I would really like to tell those people who want to visit somewhere in Jeollanamdo, visit Yeosu and get a real taste of Got Kimchi. While I was crossing the bridge on foot, sun was setting into the west-mountains and sea. That scene was unforgettable, and I will have it in my mind for a long time.
 

  I spent a great time visiting Yeosu with much Korean history, especially, the portrait of Buddha, Daeungjeon and Jinnamgwan, one of most valuable things I have ever seen in my life! What a priceless opportunity to know more about Korean history and go around the fabulous city of Yeosu. I think Yeosu has various things for sightseeing but it needs to develop evenly and also there are many assignments to solve. For one thing, the public traffic system should be more diverse and convenient and a city guide system is needed. It was hard to find the proper bus to go to a destination and there is no way to find out the arrival time of city buses.


  Finally, it is my fervent hope that Yeosu will be one of the leading cities not only in Korea but also in Asia. Because there is sufficient time of four years, I am sure that Yeosu will hold the 2012 EXPO successfully.
 

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Jinnamgwan, National Treasure in Yeosu
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