Category: Gwangju


I went to Gwangju in the Fall and we didn’t get to see the Peace Park or Cemetery because one of the people I went with had already been there. We ended up wandering around more than anything else and getting a bit lost.

Gwangju is famous for student uprisings against the dictator during 1980-81.

After arriving we went to Shinsagae to grab lunch again and started walking towards the Memorial Park, also called Peace Park. which is starred below on GoogleMaps. I hope you can tell which one is the park. It’s the opposite direction of Shinsagae. The A is just what shows up when you type in Gwangju.

Bus station to Memorial Park

The park was pretty small, although it looks pretty big on the map. We unknowingly walked though all of it looking for a spot to have lunch. When you walk in from the North entrance, you see the statue below.

Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 023Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 028Behind the statue, there is an entrance to more of the memorial, the area where they have the names of the dead written on the walls.

Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 034After that we took a taxi back to the bus station where we got an hour long bus to the cemetery. It is bus 518 to make things easier. I found out later that you can take it from the Peace Park as well. They come about every half an hour.

From the bus stop you walk though the parking gate, past the parking lot to the entrance.

Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 055 Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 084To the right there is the Yuyeongbonganso which is the place to put the portraits of the deceased May 18 democratic persons of merits. This is not just people who died during the massacre, but also people who were there and recently died.

Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 105To the right is a museum. This included a detailed history, watched that had stopped when a person got shot or blown up, flags covered in blood, paintings people had done, a building the way things used to be, a machine gun, knife, a billy club, rocks covered in blood, dioramas, and a never ending stream.

Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 131Note the Star Wars poster.

One of the more interesting things I saw: The Joint Investigation Headquarters fabricated the truth about the May 18 Democratic Uprising by forcing false confessions through torture of the detainees. The people who fought for democracy and justice against the Gwangju massacre by the new military government were now arrested and sentenced to death or lifetime imprisonment by the military court for the crime of high treason and sedition. The injured who were being treated in hospital were forced to leave.

Another interesting thing:

The Gwangju Massacre, the outcome of weapons of betrayal following the order for treason!

A 30-year-old deaf and dumb man was clubbed to death,

a 19-year-old girl was stabbed int he chest and short in the stomach,

a 60-year-old man trying to stop the killing of the innocent was beaten to death,

13-shots were fixed at a woman on her way to her grandfather’s ancestral rite,

an 8-month pregnant woman was shot to death as she waited for her husband in an alleyway,

a 4th grader was shot to death as he looked for a shoe he had lost when running away from the madness,

a middle school student was shot to death while swimming in a reservoir,

an old lady hiding under a manhole and a 70-year old man holding his breath in his house were shot to death,

and a 5-year old child was killed and buried in Gwangju, in May 1980!

People just called this the “Gwangju incident” for more than then years,

And those in power called it the suppression of a riot for social stability.

They called Gwangju a city of Communists,

though all people asked for was the truth about the brutally murdered bodies.

However, Gwangju could not be silenced though death as they wanted.

The next information plaque said the following and more:

The person who was the 11th and 12th President was given a life sentence and the Minister of Home Affairs and the 13th President was given a 17 year prison sentence.

Further left, is the door of history, historical square, outdoor performing place, sungmoru (the castle-type building that old casatles monito red the surroundings), and the second cemetery. Below is the sungmoru.

Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 162The way to the cemetery and back you will go past some graffiti.

Some food, Gwangju, Naesangjan, and more food 177

Seeing a lot of these sorts of lists, so I thought I’d make them. Since the blog only started in September on blogger and moved to wordpress in November, I thought it fitting to do only the top 5.

1) International Gift and Household Fair

2) Everland: Christmas Fantasy

3) Gwangju

4) Seoul’s 5 Palaces

5) Naejangsan National Park

 

Gwangju

This weekend I went to Gwangju with two friends and continued onto Naejangsan National Park for a Sunday hike. The bus from Sasang in Busan is about 3 1/2hours (but on our way back it was only 2 1/2  so that was pretty amazing). You can also leave from Nopo but that adds more than 1/2 an hour to the time and costs more than 5,000 KRW more.

One friend had already been to Gwangju and there were certain things he had not seen before and wanted to see this time so we headed off from the bus station towards the river and to the Gwangu Student Independence Movement Memorial Tower. Let’s just say that the map on how to get anywhere in Gwangju is very deceptive in the scale. We walked, and walked and walked and walked while checking the map I had taken a photo of on my real camera and Googlemaps on our phones (had to cross check as the memorial tower is not in Googlemaps). Let me simplifiy it’s location for you, as their tourist map is also a bit wrong: go to the Yangdong Market stop and check out the market for a bit (if it’s open, we were there midday on a Saturday and things looked a bit closed). Either cross the river at that train stop bridge or the next bridge south. Keep walking down the street of that second bridge and you will see a few rocks with carvings and a nice building that looks a bit like a police station. Go in there and keep walking ahead. The shrine is surrounded by trees so we almost missed it from within the park! Fair warning: it’s not very big.

Gwangju and Naegangsan 064

After that we headed down toward Art Street which was 1 km away. There were some interesting statues along the way, and a park that had a great performance area (more on that on our way back). We headed down towards Wongaksa Temple to see that before art street and it was quite a beautiful temple in the middle of the city. Art Street is more of ‘Art Academy Street’ as there were many academy and not so much people selling art on the street, which is what we thought it would have been. After that, we headed back to the park, going towards the 5-Story STONE Pagoda. I’m only seeing the word stone now that I’m looking at the map, as we thought it was going to be a real pagoda. In the park there were some rapping 20-something Koreans that I wish I had taken a video of since they were free-styling but I was a bit nervous to just pull out my camera then. It took us awhile to find the pagoda since, again, it is not on googlemaps and the tourist map is a bit deceptive as to where things are.

Gwangju and Naegangsan 086

Gwangju and Naegangsan 107

Gwangju and Naegangsan 140

After this we had coffee and warmed up in Hans and Bean which is a great coffee shop! Haven’t seen them in Busan, but they were all over Gwangju.  We then found out that we were in the perfect area for what we were looking for that night–pubs and great food–around the culture complex subway stop.

Our first stop was the Speakeasy, used to be called Mike and Dave’s Speakeasy, which was an expat Irish-Ameircan pub with Guinness and Smithwicks. The bathroom had a ton of interesting and hilarious (and sometimes hateful) writing. Next was Tequilaz Mexican Grill and Bar where we had TG Tequila which was the best tequila I have ever had. The manager was trying to sell it to us hard and said “I won’t even give you a lemon, it’s that smooth” and he was right. We also had fantastic tacos, chimichangas and nachos there. He suggested that we go to German Bar Two, but after we got there it was more of a club which was not what we were looking for so we headed back to Soul Train (not related to the one in Busan) which was a bit expensive but had pool.

Gwangju and Naegangsan 148Gwangju and Naegangsan 149Gwangju and Naegangsan 151Gwangju and Naegangsan 152

Gwangju and Naegangsan 163Gwangju and Naegangsan 169

Spent the night in Starbucks Spa (Starbucks was the name of the building, but there was no Starbucks Coffee to be seen) which was pretty standard other than the washrooms which had personal jacuzzis.

The next day we went to the park for the hike and that post is here. We returned in time to explore Gwangju a bit more, but using the same map we did not find much. We tried to find the Hwadamsa Shrine but I’m pretty sure that was taken down as we walked a circle around where it should have been and only saw 2 Christian churches there. Also tried to find the May 18 Memorial Park but there was no park to be seen, unless it was inside an apartment complex.

Overall, Gwangju was interesting and I do plan on going back to do another hike in that park and for delicious Mexican food, but this time I’ll keep my expectations low about the tourist map and if things will actually be where they say they are.