Culture Club

The gracious EPIK staff decided to give us a break from the 12 hours of class each day and bring us through a historical district in Jeon Ju called the Nambu Market and Hanok Village.  This area consists of many streets of restored buildings that are home to residents, shops and museums throughout. 

One of the things Jeon Ju is known for is the manually operated machine pressed paper that makes up many of the fans you would find from Korea.  We were brought to a small paper mill where we were shown how a certain type of vine is soaked and conditioned to be turned into pulp and eventually paper (hanji) for these fans and many other products.  The pulp is mashed and poured into large, shallow box frames where the water drains out through the bottom.  The remaining mushy blankets of pulp are then laid on top of each other for further processing.

Stacking the pulpy blankets

Somehow, the water is pressed out of these mushy blankets into more thin, sheet-like pieces.  From there they are placed on broad stainless steel, heated table tops where the water is evaporated out of them from the heat.  The final product – large paper sheets are removed from the heated surface and stacked.

Cool stuff.  Another product that is made from this paper is a funeral outfit like this one we saw below (minus the sunglasses).

We were then brought to a place where we did a little arts and crafts – summer camp style.  We each made our own fans.  Well, we didn’t actually make the fans, we just decorated them. 

From there we chowed down on a classic Korean dish called bibimbap (mixed rice bowl) which was a nice break from walking around all day. 

Followed by the dancing girls…

After lunch, we headed over to the Gyeonggijeon Shrine which is a memorial to King Tae-Jo Lee, the founder of the Joseon Dynasty (which was a long time ago).  Very nicely restored and maintained buildings were strewn throughout the complex.  A great relic of Korea’s vast history.

A painting of King Tae-Jo Lee

After the whole paper mill, fan-making experience we were bused over to Keumsan Temple.  This complex of small and large temple buildings was set far into a small mountainous area surrounded by forrest.

And an old fire engine that was barely as big as me.

Most of the structures had been fully restored, but one of the main buildings was still in the process.

A view inside one of the buildings

There was also a stream that flowed through the area where some of the rocks were so smooth some of the teachers took turns sliding down them into the pooling water below.

This was really a great excursion and getaway mid-week of orientation.  I look forward to the many other gems that Korea has to offer…even if it’s more old men playing hwatu (pronounced “hot toe”) in the park.

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