Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Jeongdongjin and Tongil Park

After waking up in our cute little hanok, we spent the morning walking around the beautiful, and natural, lake in Gangneung and then taking a taxi to Tongil Park (Unification Park) . I'm not really sure how the sights at this park can lead to reunification, but they were sure fun to see. The first thing we explored was an American-built ship from the Korean war. Unfortunately, most of the information was in English, but they did have some very patriotic Korean war hymns playing in the background. At Tongil Park there is also a North Korean submarine that washed ashore with 26 sailors into it back in 1966. Eleven of the non-military crew-members were killed when the submarine became stuck on rocks for fear that they would leak classified information. The other fifteen soldiers tried to escape back to the North overland but were intercepted by South Korean forces. Thirteen soldiers were killed, one captured, and it is unknown what happened to the last. 17 South Korean soldiers also lost their lives in the chase. The new addition to Tongil Park is a wooden refugee boat that landed near Gangneung in the 2000s. It was too cold to really dwell on the boat, but could you imagine fleeing from a country across the Sea of Japan in a tiny wooden boat? Probably crammed to the brim with other refugees?

Catie in front of the refugee boat
We finished our travels in the Gangneung area by going to Jeongdongjin. Right on the coast, we had ample time to see the sea and enjoy another of the area's specialties: sundubu. The soup was delicious! Jeongdongjin's main claim to fame is the huge ship-shaped hotel overlooking the sea. After a long climb up the hill, and a rather steep fee to get into the hotel, we were on the viewing platform. There was a great view of the sea and the surrounding mountains. The entire area of Jeongdongjin has this very odd aura, but it is definitely a place to go to. I am planning to go back in the summer to play on the beach. Even though the weather was freezing, it was a great weekend trip to Gangwon-do. Our train back from Jeongdonjin to Gangneung even ran right along the water! Supposedly, it is the closest train station to the sea.

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