May 8, 2013 by rkpcs
Having unexpectedly sourced a nugget of wifi, here is yesterdays update…
The team said a sad farewell to Yeosu district this morning, after having an interesting, informative and highly enjoyable few days with the various host clubs.
We were driven across jeollanam-do towards our next host district, Yeongam. The drive was truly beautiful as we proceeded through mountainous regions covered in green trees as far as the eye could see. The team were chaperoned by various other Rotarians as we passed through their districts on the way to Yeongam, and the team looking forward to meeting them properly later in the month.
Arriving in Yeongam, the team said farewell to the district leader from Yeosu, and joined our new hosts.
Our first stop was the Korean formula 1 circuit, located in the far south west of the area. We learned that the track had been built on land that had been reclaimed from the sea, and that there had been and continued to be opposition from the local community to the development of the track. Whilst beneficial to the local community in terms of revenue, there seems to have been little interest in formula 1, the locals preferring the facilities for sports in which they had an active and widespread interest. The F1 corporation is looking to resolve those conflicts as they continue to develop the circuit by ensuring that the facilities are used in ways that benefit the local community, such as the housing of conferences, the hosting of music concerts and the arrangement of cart racing.
The track was a fascinating sight, albeit deserted at present, but it is easy to imagine the way it must come alive on race day in October. The team were also interested to see innovative uses for certain areas of the land, such as solar panels having been erected over car parks to gain maximum light access on an area which would other simply be concreted, and serving the dual purpose of providing protection to vehicles during use.
We then enjoyed lunch with our new hosts and were shown our accommodation for the night, a traditional Korean house in the grounds of a complex owned by one of the local Rotarians.
We enjoyed a series of cultural visits around the local area in the afternoon. First came a visit to a large temple which is regularly visited by locals and which is set within peaceful woodland and creates a perfect and uninterrupted setting for worship. This was followed by a visit to the pottery museum which gave a historical insight into the progression of the use of pottery through the ages compared to Japan and China. Of particular interest were the jar coffins, used by the ancient mahan people to bury their dead. It was believed that the jar coffin would bring a peaceful afterlife. We then headed to a modern art gallery containing a variety of locally produced modern arts. The centre had well crafted grounds featuring a variety of different pieces of art work and which created a haven for exploration for locals and tourists alike. Inside were a variety of pieces including a peaceful and mesmerising video exhibit showing a waterfall scene as it moved through the seasons. Finally, we headed for the visitor centre for Doctor Wang-in who developed the 1000 letter alphabet. The team were interested to learn about the heavy work requirements placed upon students in South Korea, who are required to learn the entirety of the 1000 piece alphabet before they are examined on their knowledge. At high school (age 15+) their school hours stretch from 9am – 11pm with additional homework. This intense focus on hard work and discipline from an early age may begin to explain the massive successes and advancement that South Korea has enjoyed over the last few years.
The evening was spent at dinner with our hosts, followed by a further traditional cultural experience – norabang (or karaoke). There are many norabang facilties in South Korea, and it is an extremely popular pastime in society. We have been told that some locals will come to norabang bar every night of the week. The team soon found themselves in a small darkened room, microphones in hand, blasting out Livin’ on a Prayer with enough gusto to make Bon Jovi proud!
This was an interesting day spent exploring Yeongnam and the cultural features and associated positive effects that have been developed which can be enjoyed by both locals and tourists. The team have found it to be an area which exhibits traditional Korean values and one which has clearly benefited from significant investment to enable both Korean and foreign tourism.