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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Changwon MasanHappo-gu, Southern Gyeongsang: Ancestral Seat of Hoesan-Happo Kam Clan and the Dark History of Masan Uprising


MasanHappo-gu (Hangul/Hanja: 마산합포구/馬山合浦區), formerly known as Happo-gu of Masan City is a district in the Unified City of Changwon, Republic of Korea. Bordered with Goseong-Gyeongnam and Jinju City on the West, Haman County and Changwon MasanHoewon-gu on North and Changwon Seongsan-gu and Changwon Jinhae-gu on East - this district records the bleakest moment of Masan Uprising which occurred on March 15th 1960, a month before April Revolution that resulting Lee Ki-poong and his entire family committed suicide and President Syngman Rhee forced to resign. The postal codes of Changwon MasanHappo-gu start from 51251 [311 Muhak Avenue/Muhak-ro] to 51797 [756~1726 Hoejin Avenue/Hoejinno, Jinjeon-myeon].

MasanHappo-gu was previously known as Golpo Prefecture (골포현/骨浦縣) before changed its name into Happo Prefecture (합포현/合浦縣) during the 16th Reigning Year of King Gyeongdeok of Silla (757). During 8th Reigning Year of King Chungnyeol Wang Geo of Goryeo (1282), Happo Prefecture changed its name into Hoewon Prefecture (회원현/檜原縣) and its neighboring area, Uian County (의안군/義安郡) elevated its status as prefecture and changed its name into Uichang Prefecture (의창현/義昌縣). Coincidentally, three major districts of Changwon - MasanHappo, MasanHoewon and Uichang are sourced from these former Prefectures during Silla-Goryeo Timeline.

In 1408, 8th Reigning Year of King Taejong Yi Bang-won, Hoewon and Uichang Prefectures were combined into Changwon Governorate (창원부/昌原府) and five years later, this governorate elevated its status as Changwon Protectorate (창원도호부/昌原都護府). In 1604 - 34th Reigning year of King Seonjo of Joseon, it became Changwon-daedohobu (창원대도호부/昌原大都護府) or known as The Greater Changwon Protectorate.

In October 1898, the Japanese who were aiming at the control of Korea and were planning to build a railroad with its starting point at nearby Busan, began buying up land in the town; Colonel Tamura Iyozo, who was centrally involved, said the following June that "if Russia gets her hands on Masan Harbor, Japan must become useless." In May 1899 the town became a treaty port, and the Russian navy tried to buy land for its use, only to discover that the Japanese had already acquired some of the parcels they needed. 

The following November, there was an ugly confrontation between Russian and Japanese seamen, and by February 1900 there was a rumor that the Russians were demanding a lease of land for military-naval use: "A large Russian squadron including the battleships Rossiya (Россия), Donskoi (Донскои), and Rurik (Рурик) sailed from Port Arthur and weighed anchor at Masampo threateningly." The Japanese cabinet insisted that Russia not acquire any site that commanded the harbors of Koje Island, and Japan placed its fleet on a war footing. The tension was lessened by a secret agreement between Russia and Japan later that year, and the war scare was finally ended with the coming of the Boxer disturbances in June.

During Japanese Imperial Period, Masan Governorate (마산부/馬山府) was formed after separated from Changwon Governorate in 1914. In 1973, Masan incorporated with Changwon County and separated again in 1980. In 1990, two districts of Masan formed which is known as Hoewon-gu and Happo-gu, taken from the historic Hoewon and Happo Prefectures until these districts dissolved in 2000. Fortunately in 2010, Masan combined with Jinhae and Changwon into Unified Changwon City and reinstated the former districts of Hoewon-gu and Happo-gu which later become as Changwon MasanHoewon-gu and Changwon MasanHappo-gu until today.

On March 15th 1960, a protest against electoral corruption took place in Masan. The protest, sparked by Democratic Party members' exposure of electoral corruption, led to about a thousand residents of Masan gathering in front of the Democratic Party Headquarters in Masan around 7:30 in the evening. As the citizens faced off against the police, the city was blacked out. The police started shooting at the people and the people responded by throwing rocks at the police.

On April 11, Kim Ju-yeol's body was found in the harbor at Masan by a fisherman. Kim had been a student at Masan Commercial High School who had disappeared during the Masan rioting of March 15. Authorities announced that an autopsy confirmed that the cause of his death was drowning, but many rejected this explanation. Some protesters forced their way into the hospital. They found that Kim's skull had been split by a 20 centimeter-long tear-gas grenade which had penetrated from Kim's eyes to the back of his head, which indicated that the police had shot the tear gas to an angle less than 45 degrees, which could be fatal if shot directly at a person's face. Rhee’s regime tried to censor news of this incident, however the story was reported by the Korean press along with a picture of Kim when his body was first found, and delivered to the world through AP. This incident shocked the nation and became the basis of a national movement against electoral corruption on April 19. Masan erupted into three days of spontaneous mass protests which led to further violent clashes.

President Rhee claimed that the Communist Party of North Korea had been behind the Masan protests trying to shift the focus. Later a National Assembly investigating committee found that the firing into the crowd by the police had not been intended to disperse the crowds, but rather to kill protesters. It was later revealed at a criminal trial that Park Jong-pyo, the Chief of Public Security who ordered firing against protesters, tied rocks on Kim Ju-yeol's dead body and threw him away into the Masan shore to prevent him floating up on the shore.

The District Office is located at 210 March 15th Boulevard/3.15-daero, Jungang-dong 3-ga 4-11 beonji with its postal code: 51736. The current District Officer is Chung Soo-hoon (unaffiliated) and Raphael Lee Joo-young (Saenuri) as the district assemblyman for 20th Session of Gukhoe (2016-2020). Changwon MasanHappo-gu consists four communes (myeon), 15 Administrative Precincts on 49 legal precincts as shown on the map below (in Hangul and Hanja). 


Changwon MasanHappo-gu at Large

Downtown Changwon MasanHappo-gu

Monday, 25 April 2016

Jindo, Southern Jeolla: Third Biggest Island in South Korea, Home of Jindo Arirang and Jindo Dogs


Jindo (Hangul/Hanja: 진도군/珍島郡) is a county in Southwest of Southern Jeolla Province, South Korea. It consists of the island of Jindo and several smaller nearby islands. The Main Island of Jindo is separated from the Mainland Korea by the Myeongnyang Strait; however, this strait is now spanned by South Korea's longest cable-stayed bridge which is known as Jindo Bridge spanning 484 meters that connects Jindo County to Haenam County in the same province. Here in 1597 Admiral Chungmugong Yi Sunshin won the Battle of Myeongnyang, defeating a vastly superior Japanese fleet. The postal codes of Jindo County start from 57900 [37~97 Ganeunmok Alley/Ganeunmok-gil, Nari, Gunnae-myeon (Main Island of Jindo)] to 58958 [4~56 Cheongdeungdo Drive/Cheongdeungdo-gil, Cheongdeungdo-ri, Jodo-myeon (Jodo Island)].

Together with Jindo Island, Jindo County contains an archipelago of about 230 small islands, of which only 45 are inhabited by 4,855 people. Women make up 52% of the total county population of 41,184. Most of the land is covered by forests (60%) and cultivated fields (30%). The county tree is Malchilus thunbergii, the flower camellia and the bird the swan. The local food specialties are wolfberry, which is used for liquor, tea and paste; cheongju red-colored rice wine, brown seaweed and black rice.

The island was known and inhabited since prehistoric time. In 995, it was called Haeyangdo, and later renamed to Okju county and became one of the 14 Korean states. In 1001, the island Okju was changed to Jindo. During the Chinese Yuan-Mongol invasions of Korea of 1231–1270, the island served as a refuge for the Sambyeolcho Rebellion forces. However, in 1271, Mongols captured the island and removed all settlements from there. The population that returned after the Mongol invasion was constantly threatened by Japanese pirates invasions, and thus the island was nearly empty during the 14th century.

On 16 September 1597, during Japanese Imjin Invasion, the Korean admiral Yi Sunshin achieved a decisive victory in the Battle of Myeongnyang held at the Myeongnyang Strait. With 13 remaining panokseons from the Devastating Naval Battle of Chilcheollyang and about 200 men he defeated the Japanese fleet of 133 warships and 200 support ships. During the lifetime of Yi Sunshin, the strait was also known as 'Uldolmok,' or 'the Roaring Channel,' most likely due to the powerful tidal forces in the channel, which were especially loud in spring.

The Myeongnyang Strait (Hangul/Hanja/Romanization: 명량해협/鳴梁海峽/Myeongnyang Haehyeop; meaning screaming sea) separates Jindo Island and Jindo County from Haenam County on the mainland. At its narrowest point, the strait is about 300 meters wide and up to 22 meters deep, with the tide variations up to 6 meters in spring. The tidal currents reach up to 6 m/s and are considered as the fastest in Asia. Combined with a whirlpool in the strait, these fast tides hinder navigation. The area is frequently hit by typhoons with typical average wind speeds of 48 m/s. The coastline is very irregular and contains numerous minor valleys, mountains and islets. The shores are steep and are made by eroding igneous and volcanic rocks. There is significant navigation in the strait.

A medium-sized hunting dog breed called the Korean Jindo Dog (Hangul/Hanja/Romanization: 진돗개/珍島개/Jindotgae) originates from the island. It is known in Korea for its fierce loyalty, attachment to home and hunting abilities. Since 1936, the dog is considered as a national cultural legacy and has been protected during the war times. There is a Jindo Dog Research and Testing Center on the island. In addition, Jindo Dog denotes the defense alertness condition of South Korea in response of imminent threat from North Korea, which is known as Jindo Dog Alert - same as US DEFCON.

As one of the most popular Korean folk songs, Jindo Arirang is the representative Arirang of the Southwestern region of Jeolla Province, originating from Jindo, an island located off the southernmost tip of the Korean peninsula. This region has given birth to the most popular and highly artistic folk music genres, including pansori (Korean folk opera and storytelling), sanjo (a solo improvisational instrumental genre) and sinawi (instrumental ensemble for shaman ritual dance).  In this region the vocal production used by folksong singers employs chest voice which creates a thick and wide vocal timbre that gives the music a heartbreaking, weepy quality. Among all the versions of Arirang, Jindo Arirang is particularly unique due to its relative isolation from the rest of the nation, remaining more faithful to its native Jindo culture than other versions of Arirang.  Beginning with a melancholic melody and a sorrowful text, this piece becomes more exciting as the tempo accelerates towards the end.

The tide-related sea level variations result in a local phenomenon (a "Moses Miracle") when a land pass 2.9 km long and 10–40 meters wide opens for an hour between the main Jindo island and the small Modo island to the south of Jindo. The event occurs approximately twice a year, around April–June. It had long been celebrated in a local festival called "Jindo's Sea Way", but was largely unknown to the world until 1975, when the French ambassador Pierre Randi described the phenomenon in a French newspaper. Nowadays, nearly half a million foreign and local tourists attend the event annually. It is accompanied by local festivals which include Ganggangsuwollae (Korean traditional circle dance), Ssitkim-gut (a shaman ritual, consoling the souls of the dead), Deul Norae (traditional farmers songs), Manga (burial ceremony songs), Jindo dog show, Buknori (drum performance) and fireworks.

The County Office is located at 25 Cheolma Drive/Cheolma-gil, Seongnae-ri 64-1 beonji, Jindo-eup with its postal code: 58915. The chief of this county is Lee Dong-jin (Minjoo Party). In the other hand, Yoon Young-il (People's Party) serves as the assemblyman for Haenam, Wando and Jindo Counties in 20th Session of Gukhoe (2016-2020). The administrative region details of Jindo County as shown on the map below (in Hangul and Hanja). 


Thursday, 21 April 2016

Damyang, Southern Jeolla: Ancestral Seat of Damyang Jeon-Field Clan and Home of Bamboo and Metasequoia Trees


Damyang (Hangul/Hanja: 담양군/潭陽郡) is a county in Southern Jeolla Province, Republic of Korea. Tourism, bamboo products and strawberries are the major local industry in this county. It is not to be confused with Danyang, which is located in eastern Northern Chungcheong Province. The postal codes of Damyang County starts from 57300 [2~471 Gamagol Avenue/Gamagollo, Yongchi-ri, Yongmyeon] to 57393 [20~87 Hwaam Street/Hwaam-gil, PungAm-ri, Nammyeon].

Damyang was initially called Chujahye County (추자혜군/秋子兮郡) in the Baekje Period, which was renamed to Chuseong County (추성군/秋城郡) in the Silla Period during the reign of King Gyeongdeok. King Seongjong Wang Chi changed it as Damju (담주/潭州) and established Dodanryeonsa (도단련사/都團練使) in his 14th year (995). Then, it belonged to Naju and its name became the present Damyang. It was promoted to County in the 4th year of King Taejo Yi Seong-gye (1395) for it was the hometown of Guksa Jogu. As King Gongjeong (Jeongjong Yi Bang-gwa) came to the throne (1398), it was again raised to Governorate for being Queen Kim’s hometown, which became Damyang Protectorate (담양도호부/潭陽都護府) in the 13th year (1413) of King Taejong Yi Bang-won. 

According to the present administrative district, Damyang-gun is composed of Damyang-eup and 11 myeons (communes): GoseoㆍGeumseongㆍNamㆍDaedeokㆍMujeongㆍDaejeonㆍBongsanㆍSubukㆍWolsanㆍYongㆍChangpyeong. The reform on the administrative district, which was carried out under the Japanese rule in 1914, has laid the foundation for the current Damyang. In other words, Changpyeong-gun was incorporated into Damyang-gun, while Okgwa-myeon that was under the jurisdiction of Changpyeong was transferred to Gokseong-gun. Also, Daejeon-myeon, Subuk-myeon, and Nam-myeon were initially from Gwangju Metropole and Jangseong-gun. Therefore, it can be noted that the regions that compose Damyang-gun today would have been two separate administrative districts before the modern period.

The County Office is located at 1371 Chuseong Avenue/Chuseongno, Gaeksa-ri 99-1 beonji, Damyang-eup with its postal code: 57339. The chief of this county is Choi Hyung-sik (Minjoo Party). In the other hand, Lee Kae-ho (Minjoo Party) serves as the assemblyman for Damyang, Hampyeong, Yeonggwang and Jangseong Counties in 20th Session of Gukhoe (2016-2020). The administrative region details of Damyang County as shown on the map below (in Hangul and Hanja). 



Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Gangneung, Gangwon Province: Ancestral Seat of Gangneung Yoo Clan, Home of Dano Festival and Hometown of Yulgok Yi I and Shin Saimdang


Gangneung (Hangul/Hanja: 강릉시/江陵市) is a city in Gangwon Province, on the east coast of South Korea. Gangneung is the economic center of the Yeongdong Subregion of Gangwon Province. The origin of Gangwon Province sourced from the combination of two cities in the province: Gangneung and Wonju. The postal code of Gangneung City starts from 25400 [58~96-12 Buyeondong 1st Street/Buyeondong 1(il)-gil, Samsan-ri, YeonGok-myeon] to 25646 [6-23~177 Heuksugol Alley/Heuksugol-gil, Namyang-ri, Okgye-myeon].

The site of present-day Gangneung City, where Yemaek Tribe had lived from the ancient times, belonged to Wiman Joseon in 129BCE, and became a part of Changhae-gun when Namryeo, a general of Yemaek, attacked King Ugeo and surrendered it to Han Dynasty in 128BCE. 

During 14th Reigning Year of King Micheon (313CE), it was combined with Goguryeo and was called Haseorang or Haseulla. Then, it became a part of Silla territory in the 11th Reigning Year of King Jijeung-Maripgan (550), and was called Myeongju in 16th Reigning Year of King Gyeongdeok (757). It was renamed to Gangneung-bu in 34th Reigning Year of King Chungnyeol Wang Geo of Goryeo Dynasty (1308). In the period of King Gongyang - the Last King of Goryeo Dynasty, the east coast area extending from Wonsan in the north to Uljin (present-day Uljin County, Northern Gyeongsang Province) in the south was under the control of Gangneung-daedohobu (강릉대도호부/江陵大都護府) or known as The Greater Gangneung Protectorate.

It was absorbed to Gangwon Province in 4th Reigning Year of King Taejo Yi Seong-gye of Joseon Dynasty (1395). In 33rd Reigning Year of Emperor Gojong-Gwangmu Yi Myeong-bok (1896), it became Gangneung County, containing 21 communes (myeon) in its jurisdiction. In 1931 under the invasion of Japanese imperialism, Gangneung-myeon was elevated into Gangneung-eup. In 1955, Gangneung-eup, Seongdeok-myeon, Gyeongpo-myeon were combined and raised Gangneung into the status of city. At the same time Gangneung-gun was separated and named as Myeongju-gun until 1994. On January 1, 1995, Gangneung city and Myeongju-gun were combined into single entity of Gangneung City.

Gangneung has many tourist attractions, such as Jeongdongjin, a very popular area for watching the sun rise, and Gyeongpo Beach. There is a ROK airbase south of downtown Gangneung which formerly doubled as a civil airport. It is considered special in that it has both access to a lake and the sea. Gyeongpodae is a pavilion overlooking a Gyeongpo lake. It is said that one can see the moon five times when at Gyeongpodae. One sees the moon once in the sky, once reflected in the lake, once reflected in the sea, once reflected in the drinking glass, and once more in the eyes of a lover. The site of Gyeongpodae is known for its location east of the centre of the city.

Inside the Gyeongpodae pavilion, built with 28 pillars, is the Gyeongpodaebu, a poem by Yulgok Yi I. Gyeongpodaebu describes the movement of the heavens and the moon. The best view of the moon is on the 15th of the lunar month. The nearby Gyeongpo Beach has a sandy beach and a line of fresh seafood restaurants, with its proximity to Seoul making it a popular summer destination.

Gangneung has numerous festivals. The biggest and most famous is the Gangneung Dano Festival (강릉단오제) at the Dano fairground near the Namdae River. In 1967, the Gangneung Dano Festival was designated Korean National Immaterial Cultural Heritage No. 13. On November 11, 2005 it was designated by UNESCO as a "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity". Nowadays, it is a combination of several commemoration rites and traditional plays. A highlight is the traditional Gwanno Mask Dance (Gwanno Gamyeongeuk) which is only performed at this festival.

In addition to well established festivals like the Dano, there are several newer festivals in Gangneung, such as the IJAF (International Junior Art Festival) enjoys great popularity. The IJAF is a cultural festival for youth from all over the world. The festival includes both performances of the participating groups and a diversified cultural program demonstrating the essence of Korean culture. Since 2002, the IJAF takes place at Gyeongpo Beach in the end of July. Also, the Gyeongpo Rock Festival was established in 2006. This festival, mostly attracting young people, offers young Korean bands from the Gangneung area a stage for their performances.

There are a number of historical remains and museums in Gangneung. The most prominent being the Ojukheon Museum, which is named after a special black bamboo growing in this area. It is the birthplace of the famous Korean scholar Yulgok (1536–1584) (whose image is on the South Korean 5,000 Won note) and his mother Shin Saimdang (1504–1551) (whose image is on the 50,000 Won note.) In 1963, the Ojukheon Museum was designated as National Cultural Heritage No. 165. It includes one of the oldest wooden buildings in Korea. Several shrines and old residential buildings deliver insight into the lives of these famous Koreans. Next to the Ojukheon Museum there is the Gangneung Municipal Museum which shows folklore and antique pieces from the history of the city. Located in the hills surrounding Gangneung City, there is the revealing Daegwallyeong Museum. It consists of a private collection with more than 1000 artifacts and shows the agricultural history of the region.

The City Hall is located at 33 Gangneung Boulevard/Gangneung-daero, Hongje-dong 1001-beonji with its postal code: 25522. The current city mayor is Choi Myung-hee (Saenuri) and Kwon Seong-dong (Saenuri) as the city assemblyman for 20th Session of Gukhoe (2016-2020). Gangneung City consists a town (eup), 7 communes (myeon), 13 Administrative Precincts on 39 legal precincts as shown on the map below (in Hangul and Hanja). 


Gangneung-at-Large


Downtown Gangneung

Yeongwol, Gangwon Province: Ancestral Seat of Yeongwol Uhm Clan, The Place that kept Dark History of King Danjong the Young and Vagabond Kim Sat-gat


Yeongwol or known as Nyeongwol in North Korean Dialect (Hangul/Hanja: 영월군 or 녕월군/寧越郡) is a county in Gangwon Province, South Korea. Bordered with Northern Chungcheong Province, it is considered as the Southernmost Region of the Greater Gangwon Province (consists of Gangwon Province in North Korea and South Korea). The postal codes of Yeongwol County starts from 26200 [162-9 Jangjaeteo-gil, Maewol-ri, KimSatGat-myeon] to 26248 [14 EunhaengNamu 8-gil, Hasong-ri, Yeongwol-eup].

During the Proto Three Kingdoms Period, Yeongwol was a part of Jinhan Confederacy. In the reign of King Goi - 8th King of Baekje (234~286), Yeongwol became the territory of Baekje, and it's name was Baekwol, meaning there are more than 100 households. In the reign of King Micheon - 15th King of Goguryeo (300~331), it become the part of southern Goguryeo. It was called Naesaeng-hyeon (내생현/奈生縣) or Naesaeng Prefecture in English in its early days. 

When Silla dominated Korean Peninsula after unifying three kingdoms under King Munmu the Great, it became the territory of Silla. At first, it was a part of Sinju. In 757, 16th reigning year of King Gyeongdeok, local administrative district was put in to a new order. The nation was planned to be 5 sogyeongs (lesser capital cities), 9 states. In this procedure, Naesaeng-gun was renamed to Naseong-gun and became a part of Myeongju County (present-day Gangneung City).

The county is well known as the place where King Danjong the Young, the sixth king of Joseon Dynasty, was exiled when he was forced to abdicate by his uncle - Grand Prince Suyang Yi Yoo, who became Sejo of Joseon. It is also where Danjong was buried after he was immolated in 1457, following the attempts by six martyred ministers to restore him to power, after he was perceived to be a continuing threat to the rule of his uncle. It is also where the Joseon Dynasty vagabond-poet Kim Sat-gat is buried.

The County Office is located at 64 Hasong Avenue/Hasongno, Hasong 5-ri 242-beonji with its postal code: 26235. The chief of this county is Park Sun-kyu (Saenuri). In the other hand, Yeom Dong-yeol (Saenuri) serves as the assemblyman for Taebaek City-Hoengseong, Yeongwol, Pyeongchang and Jeongseon Counties in 20th Session of Gukhoe (2016-2020). Yeongwol County consists 2 towns (eup) and 7 communes (myeon) as shown on the map below (in Hangul and Hanja). 


Incheon Gyeyang-gu: Site of the Former Gyeyang Protectorate during Goryeo Period


Gyeyang-gu (Hangul/Hanja: 계양구/桂陽區) is a district located in North-eastern Incheon Metropole, Korean Republic. This district borders with Geomdan-dong, Incheon Seo-gu and Gochon-eup on North, Seoul Gangseo-gu and Bucheon Ojeong-gu, Gyeonggi Province on East, Incheon Bupyeong-gu on South and Greater Portion of Incheon Seo-gu on West. The postal codes of Gyeyang-gu starts from 21000 [9~55 Duksil Alley/Duksil-gil] to 21129 [8~16-2 Anaji Avenue 438th Street/Anaji-ro 438beon-gil]

It is believed that many people have settled in Gyeyang since the prehistoric period as the wide plains and rivers surround Mount Gyeyang. It was also the historic center of northeast Incheon from Samguk Period up to the Joseon Period. The first historical record of Gyeyang-gu goes back to the Goguryeo kingdom in 470 AD (58th Reigning Year of King Jangsu, 20th King of Goguryeo) under the name of Jubuto-gun.

287 years later, it was renamed to Jangje-gun during the reign of King Gyeongdeok of Unified Silla Dynasty. During the second reigning year of King Gojong Wang Cheol - 23rd King of Goryeo Dynasty, it was known as Gyeyang-dohobu (계양도호부/桂陽都護府) or Gyeyang Protectorate in English and this protectorate's name is taken from Mount Gyeyang. 

After that, it was renamed to Bupyeong-dohobu in 1413, 13th Reigning Year of King Taejong Yi Bang-won - 3rd King of Joseon Dynasty. Then, it was incorporated into Bunae-myeon in Bucheon County (Present-day Bucheon City, Gyeonggi Province), later renamed Gyeyang-myeon and it was incorporated with Incheon Buk-gu as it was annexed to Incheon in 1989. Bupyeong-gu, Gyeyang-gu, and Seo-gu were all formed out of this ward. Seo-gu was separated out in 1988, and both Gyeyang-gu and Bupyeong-gu were formed in 1995.

The District Office is located at 88 Gyesan New Road/Gyesansae-ro, Gyesan 4-dong 1079-1 beonji with its postal code: 21067. The mayor of this district is Park Hyung-woo (Minjoo Party). While Yoo Dong-soo and the former Incheon Metropole Mayor - Andrew Song Young-gil (Minjoo Party) serve as the district assemblymen for 20th Session of Gukhoe (2016-2020). Yoo Dong-soo represents for Incheon Gyeyang-gap (1st Electoral District that covers Hyoseong-dong, Jakjeon-dong and JakjeonSeoun-dong) while Andrew Song represents for Incheon Gyeyang-eul (2nd Electoral District that covers Gyesan-dong and Gyeyang-dong).

Gyeyang-gu consists 12 administrative precincts (행정동) on 23 legal precincts (법정동) as shown on the map below (in Hangul and Hanja). 


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Seoul Yongsan-gu: Bustling International District of Seoul Special City


Yongsan-gu or known as Ryongsan-gu in North Korean Dialect (Hangul/Hanja: 용산구 or 룡산구/龍山區) is a district located in central Seoul Special City, Korean Republic. Yongsan borders Mount Namsan on the northeast and Han River on the southwest. It is a region with a historic background, treasuring traditions handed down from ancient times. Its name means "Dragon Hill", derived from the hanja characters for dragon (龍 yong) and hill/mountain (山 san).

The oldest record of Yongsan as the name of a place could be found in a story where two dragons appeared over Han River in the 21st year of Kichal of Baekje, and the name of Yongsan (dragon mountain) was taken as the surrounding mountains looked like a dragon. The postal codes of Yongsan-gu starts from 04300 [172~202 Mallijae Avenue/Mallijae-ro] to 04428 [347 Ichon Avenue/Ichonno]. The passenger vehicle registration plate code for Yongsan-gu is 01~16 다(DA) 1000~9999.

The dragon is an imaginary creature that has been regarded as the most ideal, with its brightness and strength, since ancient times. The dragon was seen as an animal with two horns on its head, a body armored with needles and sharp claws that allow no attacks by anything. It was also believed that dragons could fly over clouds as well as creep and leap on the surface. It was also believed that the dragon could change itself as it is pleased. As dragons have been considered as the most auspicious creature, the king's position was referred to as a dragon's position, the king's face as a dragon's face, his dress as a dragon's dress. The very name of Yongsan was named after the dragon, the symbol of auspiciousness and strength.

Some say that Yongsan was named after the surrounding mountains that look like a dragon, and some say that the name originated from the legend that two dragons appeared over Han River at the time of Baekje (18BCE - 660CE), which says that Yongsan is an auspicious region. On a map of Seoul, Yongsan is found in the center of the map. In terms of urban transport structure, Yongsan is at the intersection of the roads connecting Yeongdeungpo-gu, Yeongdong and Sinchon. In terms of forestation, Yongsan is the place where Han River, flowing from the east to the west, and the Bukhan, Namsan and Gwanak mountains, intersect. In terms of geomancy, Yongsan could be the most auspicious land with the Namsan mountain in front and the Han River at the back.

Yongsan could be referred to as a blessed land that has made achievements worthy of the name. During the Joseon Dynasty, there was a wharf crowded with cargo ships and merchants from all over the country. In Korea's modern history, Yongsan has developed as the starting point of capitalist economic activities and the first satellite city in Korea.

On October 6, 1884, Yongsan was designated as an open region where foreigners were allowed to reside and do commerce. In 1887, when missionary work was freely allowed, the French, Chinese and Japanese came to start their religious and business activities around Wonhyo-ro. In August 1888, a steamship started to sail along the Han River, and in 1891, the Yongsan Theological School was built, which was the first seminary and western-style building in Korea. On January 9, 1900, a streetcar running from Seogye-dong through Cheongpa-dong to Wonhyo-ro 4-ga started operation. Through these developments, Yongsan entered a period of modernization.

The administrative district of Yongsan-gu started on April 17, 1896 under the name of Yongsanbang. The old name of Yongsanguyeokso was changed to Yongsan-gu in October 1945, just after Liberation from imperialist Japan, and the name was again changed to Yongsan-gu, Seoul Special Municipality on October 18, 1946 and maintained until the present. The system of 'dong' as the lowest administrative unit has been kept until the present as previously enacted by the ordinance of the Seoul municipal government in April 1955.

Despite its various geographical advantages, Yongsan has been neglected in the process of modernization owing to the disadvantages of having foreign forces stationed there for more than 100 years and the railroad site occupying the central part of Yongsan-gu. Most Seoul residents, nevertheless, do not object to the claim that Yongsan could be the only lucrative land left in Seoul, and so is the land of hope. The central government, as well as the Seoul municipal government, expects much from Yongsan as evidenced by the inclusion of Yongsan in every important project in the nation.

Notable locations in Yongsan-gu include Yongsan Station, the sprawling Yongsan Electronics Market, Haebangchon and the Itaewon commercial district. Itaewon is widely known as one of the most ethnically diverse regions in Korea. Many foreigners gravitate to its shopping centers and nightlife.

It is the site of Yongsan Garrison, a large United States military base in the heart of Seoul. Because of the scarcity of land in central Seoul, as well as the consolidation of U.S. Forces throughout the Korean Peninsula, the U.S. and South Korean governments have agreed to relocate the facility out of Seoul to Pyeongtaek by 2017. After its relocation, the 243 hectares of its land is planned to be developed into a large park.

Sookmyung Women's University is in the western portion of this district. Nearby, the legendary bar "Doors" has been a hub of Sookmyung social life for years. There is a growing community of Muslims and others from the Middle East due to the location of Seoul's only mosque: Seoul Central Mosque in Itaewon. This immigration trend has caused a number of halal restaurants and shops to open in the area.

The District Office is located at 150 Noksapyeong Boulevard/Noksapyeong-daero, Itaewon-dong 34-87 beonji with its postal code: 04390. The mayor of this district is Sung Jang-hyun (Minjoo Party) and Chin Young (Minjoo Party) as the district assemblyman for 20th Session of Gukhoe (2016-2020). Yongsan-gu consists 16 administrative precincts (행정동) on 36 legal precincts (법정동) as shown on the map below (in Hangul and Hanja). 


Monday, 18 April 2016

Icheon, Gyeonggi Province: Ancestral Seat of Icheon Seo Clan, center of Korean Ceramics and Semiconductors Manufacturing


Icheon or known as Richeon in North Korean Dialect (Hangul/Hanja: 이천시 or 리천시/利川市) is a city in South-eastern Gyeonggi Province, South Korea. It should not be confused with the much larger Incheon Metropole or a county in Northern Bound of Gangwon Province in North Korea with different Hanja Notation (이천군/伊川郡). Neighboring districts include Yeoju County, Gwangju City, Yongin City, and Anseong City within Gyeonggi Province, as well as Eumseong County in Northern Chungcheong Province. 

Fourteen various oval shapes that represent towns (eup), communes (myeon), and precincts (dong) of Icheon city and form the world map expressing Icheon city that moves forward globally. Each individual oval shape symbolizes the rice, soil for the ceramics, water for hot springs, peaches, and cornelian cherries as a group. The city slogan, A.R.T. ICHEON represents “Active city)”, “Rich city)” and “Top city)”, expressing the city as an active city that moves towards the city development, city that is enriched with culture, art, industry, and hospitality, and city that tops with industry and natural environment. Group of red color describes the creative culture, green expresses eco-friendly farming and ecology that city promotes, and the blue color group represents future vision and progressive industries which are the unique features and direction of Icheon City.

The postal codes of Icheon City starts from 17300 [197 Wonjeok Avenue 617th Street/Wonjeok-ro 617beon-gil, Gyeongsa-ri, Baeksa-myeon] to 17424 [2~202 Jurae-Bonjuk Road 612th Street/JuraeBonjuk-ro 612beon-gil, Bonjuk-ri, Yulmyeon]The passenger vehicle registration plate code for this city is 39(Hangul at range: 소, 오, 조, 구) 1000~9999.

This city was previously known as Namcheon, Nammae and Hwangmae during Samguk Period. In 935CE, when King Taejo Wang Geon of Goryeo arrived Bokhacheon to fight the troops of Hubaekje but unable to cross the stream due to a flood, however, a person who known as Seo Mok (서목/徐穆) helped, so King Taejo was able to cross.

Later King Taejo secured victory from this area and quoted two letters of “I” and “Cheon” from “Iseopdaecheon (利涉大川/이섭대천)”, and began to call “Icheon” to this day. In addition, based on another story, when King Taejo was on his way to the southern region conquest, he asked for a fortune telling while he stationed and the fortune saying told him to name the area Icheon, so he granted the name Icheon. These stories of the foundation of Icheon City are based on Dongguk Yeoji Seungnam (동국여지승람/東國輿地勝覽/Augmented Survey of the Geography of Korea).

The meaning of the name was “It was advantageous since they were able to cross a big stream”. In the Book of Changes, Zhouyi “Iseopdaecheon” appears fourteen times and it mostly means that “when you build virtues, learning and physical strength, big streams that can be considered as tough times can be crossed and contribute with great honors, thus the whole world benefit”.

Together with Yeoju, Icheon is known as a center of South Korean ceramic manufacturing and is a UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Art. Other famous local products include peaches and rice. Icheon is home to SK Hynix, the world's second largest memory chip maker.

The Icheon Ceramics Village features 300-plus ceramics-making firms in the area of Sugwang-ri, Sindun-myeon, Saeum-dong, and a popular visitor attraction. They use traditional skills and produce porcelains in some 40 traditional firewood kilns. This pottery is recognized both at home and abroad for its quality.

The SaEum-dong and Sindun-myeon areas also include a ceramics village with many ceramics stores. Potters have researched traditional methods and revived the manufacture of ceramics in the style of Goryeo celadon and Joseon white porcelain here. The village is the center of the effort to preserve these traditions.

The City Hall is located at 40 Buak Avenue/Buak-ro, Jungni-dong 490-beonji with its postal code: 17379The current city mayor is Peter Cho Byung-don (Minjoo Party) and Song Seok-joon (Saenuri) as the city assemblyman for 20th Session of Gukhoe (2016-2020). Icheon City consists 2 towns (eup), 8 communes (myeon), 4 Administrative Precincts on 15 legal precincts as shown on the map below (in Hangul and Hanja). 

Icheon-at-Large


Downtown Icheon


Koihime Musou Girls and Designated Clans: Icheon Seo Clan
Icheon Seo Clan (이천 서씨/利川徐氏) was founded by Seo Shin-il (서신일/徐神逸; 817-902) who lived during Turbulent Later Three Kingdoms timeline in the reign of King Hyogong, 52nd King of Silla. The direct six generation-descendants of Seo Shin-il - Seo Pil (서필/徐弼), Seo Hui (서희/徐熙), Seo Nul (서눌/徐訥), Seo Jeong (서정/徐靖), Seo Gyun (서균/徐均) and Seo Gong (서공/徐恭) are the founding members of Goryeo Dynasty while Seo Gyeon (서견/徐甄) was the founding member of Joseon Dynasty and his memorial tablet is kept at Chunghyeon Museum in Soha-dong, Gwangmyeong City, Gyeonggi Province.

Seo Shin-il died in 902CE and buried at the foot of Mount Hyoyang, Sanchon-ri, Bubal-eup, Icheon City, Gyeonggi Province. Every October 1st in Lunar Calendar, the Icheon Seo clansmen gather at Mount Hyoyang to pay tribute for the progenitor of their clan. The Icheon Seo ancestral houses are detected at Icheon, Naju, Hwasun, Muan, Boseong, Hampyeong, Jeongeup (ROK) - in addition with clan houses in Kowon and Hongwon Counties in Southern Hamgyong Province in DPRK. Based on 2000 Korean Republic Census which is provided by Statistics Korea (KOSTAT), there are 172,072 people in 53,407 families who originated from Icheon Seo Clan.

Seoul Jongno-gu: The First and Oldest District Formed in Seoul Special City


Jongno-gu (Hangul/Hanja: 종로구/鍾路區) is a district located in central Seoul Special City, Korean Republic. It takes its name from a major local street, Jongno, which means "Bell Street". The postal codes of Jongno-gu starts from 03000 [8~42 Bibong 1st Street/Bibong 1(il)-gil] to 03198 [279 Cheonggyecheon Avenue/Cheonggyecheonno]. The passenger vehicle registration plate code for Jongno-gu is 01~16 가(GA) 1000~9999.

Jongno-gu has been the center of the city for over 600 years, since the Joseon Dynasty established its capital city in 1394, 2nd Reigning Year of King Taejo Yi Seong-gye. King Taejo transferred the Capital City of Joseon from Kaekyong-Kaesong to Seoul-Hanyang two years after downfall of Goryeo Dynasty and Kaesong was the Capital City of Goryeo for 473 years (919-1392). 

The district is commonly referred to as the face and heart of Korea because of its important roles in the politics, economics, culture and history as the capital city. The name Jongno originates from the bell tower to let the people know of the opening and closing hours of the Doseongmun Gate located at Jongno 1(il)-ga. The name Jongno, the street with the bell, was designated on April 1st 1943.

It is home to palaces in which the kings used to reside and work, such as Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeok Palace, Changgyeong Palace, Gyeonghui Palace and Unhyeon Palace. The South Korean president's current residence, the Cheongwadae a.k.a Blue House, is also located in Jongno-gu.

With the historical value and cultural properties, Jongno-gu attracts visitors' attention. These include the restored Cheonggyecheon stream, the traditional neighborhood of Insa-dong, Jongmyo shrine (Dedicated to the late Kings and Queens of Joseon Dynasty) and Dongmyo Shrine (Dedicated to Guan Yu). Art Center Nabi and Gahoe Museum, a relics museum is also located in the district. A number of colleges and universities are located here; these include the main campuses of Sungkyunkwan University in Myeongnyun-dong 3-ga and Baehwa Women's College. This district is also home to Jogyesa, the chief temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism.

The area is also home to the Gwanghwamun Plaza a public open space on Sejong Boulevard (Sejong-daero) and is part of the Seoul Metropolitan Government's plans for environmentally friendly renovation projects such as the Cheonggyecheon Stream and Seoul Plaza. It is also of historical significant as the location for royal administrative buildings and features statues of the Admiral Chungmugong Yi Sunshin of Joseon Dynasty and King Sejong the Great of Joseon.

The District Office is located at 43 Sambong Avenue/Sambongno, Susong-dong 146-2 beonji with its postal code: 03153. Sambong Avenue is a road dedicated to Sir Sambong Jeong Do-jeon (삼봉 정도전/三峰 鄭道傳; 1342-1398), First Chief State Councillor of Joseon Dynasty until he was killed by King Taejong Yi Bang-won (Grand Prince Jeongan in previous years) during the First Strife of Princes in 1398

The mayor of this district is Kim Young-jong (Minjoo Party) and Chung Se-kyun (Independent) as the district assemblyman for 20th Session of Gukhoe (2016-2020). Jongno-gu consists 17 administrative precincts (행정동) on 87 legal precincts (법정동) as shown on the map below (in Hangul and Hanja).