Saturday, August 2, 2008

In and around Insadong

Today we ventured into Insadong, another shopping area of Seoul, but very different from Myeongdong. Streets here are lined with shops containing Korean Celadon pottery, antiques, caligraphy brushes, pressed paper, and plenty of other odds and ends. Saturday and Sunday are the best days to go, because the streets are closed to vehicle traffic, and there are many stands in the street vendors in addition to the normal stores.

While we were here, we passed a small anti-China demonstration. These folks were protesting China's treatment of North Korean refugees. Many North Koreans who manage to escape across the river into China are rounded up and shipped back to North Korea... where god only knows their fate once the North Korean Government gets a hold of the escapees. This picture below is some Koreans acting out the Chinese turning over North Korean refugees to the North Korean soldier. I'm not quite sure what it is, but I've found that Koreans like graphic demonstrations of injustices committed against them. First I saw at the prison the life-like torture demonstrations and figurines. Now this. The "North Korean soldier" was acting out kicking the two "escapees". Oh, and by the way, if you're interested more in the topic of North Korean refugees in China, you should read The Ginseng Hunter by Jeff Talarigo. It takes place in fairly recent times, and really shows the strife of the North Korean people, not only in North Korea, but the hardships that they may face when they make it into China as well.

We wondered out of Insadong after a little bit of wandering, and found ourselves in Tapgol Park. This is a small park with some a memorial to the revolutionaries of the Sam-Il (March 1st) Movement. The Sam-il movement was an independence movement that started on March 1st, 1919, against the Japanese occupying forces. If you go to the Prison museum, you can learn a lot more about this though.

These folks here featured on either side of this monument are two of the most famous revolutionaries of the Sam-il movement. To the right is Yu Gwan-sun who was a 16 year old student leader of the movement. She was arrested, and died in Seodaemun prison. To the left is Kang Ugyu (I think.. but please correct me if I'm wrong), who was an independence fighter who threw a bomb at a Japanese official as an assassination attempt. He was also imprisoned in Seodaemun as well.
Another view from within Tapgol Park

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