Week 17: A Korean Love Story
Gwangju Travel Blog› entry 19 of 33 › view all entries
We finally were able to take advantage of the Gwangju International Center's (GIC) Cultural tours. On this tour we went to Namwon, approximately an hour or so from Gwangju. After mistaking Gwangju Station (it turned out it was the train station) for Gwangju Terminal (the bus terminal is not exactly close the the train station) we made it to the group meeting place with less than 5 minutes to spare. First we went to Gwanghallu Garden which is the setting for the Korean version of "Romeo and Juliet". Basically a courtesan's daughter falls in love with the son of an aristocrat. After professing their love to each other in the garden, the aristocrat's son was forced to go with his father to Seoul to complete his studies while the courtesan's daughter was terrorized by the new governor and was jailed due to her refusal to dishonor her true love.
The garden was a very pretty place to visit in the fall. The trees were bedecked in warm autumn colors and the fallen leaves were strewn across the elaborate ponds where immense koi fish greedily gobbled the pellets thrown to them by the many garden visitors. One section of the park displayed a recreation of the hanok, or traditional korean home typically built at the time of the Korean love story.
After the gardens we walked out the back gate, browsed through some souvenir stands and had bibimbap for lunch at a local shikdang. Afterwards we walked alongside the river where couples could enjoy a breezy boat ride on a swan-shaped boat and headed to the Chunhyang Theme Park. This theme park is also based on the characters from the korean "romeo and juliet" and is devoted to educating visitors on traditional korean folk life. We were given hanbok (traditional clothing) to wear as we walked through the park.
As we left the park we followed a colorful, vibrant parade leading from the park and following the river through the city. Overall the day had been very chilly but we got a good taste of traditional korean culture.