Posted by: rbbadger | May 6, 2010

仁川廣域市

Today I made a trip over to Incheon Metropolitan City for my day off.  Incheon is Korea’s third largest city and home to Korea’s main airport, the fabulous Seoul Incheon International Airport.  Unless you are flying from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, more likely than not, you’ll end up in Incheon.  It is a major port city as well.  In addition, it has an important historic role.  It was here that U.N. forces, under the command of General Douglas MacArthur made their landing at Incheon and turned the tide of the Korean War.  In is also home to Korea’s only Chinatown and is the place where one of the favourite “Chinese” dishes of Koreans, jjajjangmyeon, was first made.

Across from Incheon Station is the first paeru.  This stone gate is one of three which marks the borders of Chinatown.  Unlike Korean gates, which are largely made of wood, Chinese gates are often made of stone.

You can click on each of these photos for a larger view.  Here is the Chinese Community Center in Chinatown.  I love the red Chinese lanterns.  The Chinese have a special liking for red, as it is a colour associated with good fortune. 

I sort of like this tile mural featuring Chinese opera performers. 

Here is the third paeru.  If you pass through it and climb the stairs, you will find yourself in Jayu or Freedom Park.  The brown building on the left is home to a very nice cafe run by a friendly Korean couple.  They sell coffee, tea, fruit juices, and sandwiches out of a space that seems to resemble a living room. 

Now we are inside Jayu Park.  Here is the monument which commemorates the 100th anniversary of Korean and American relations. 

From this viewing pavilion, you can get a great view of the harbour.  It always amazes me that they get these giant hunks of metal float, but then they also get giant hunks of alumnium to fly.

Here is the famous statue of General Douglas MacArthur.  On September 15, 1950, United Nations forces under the command of General MacArthur made a surprise landing at Incheon, thus turning the tide in the Korean War.  While the war would continue on unabated for three more years, the Korean People’s Army were definitely caught off-guard.  Some Korean leftists, who are far too cozy with North Korea for my tastes, want this statue taken down.  Korean Conservatives, on the other hand, prefer to keep it in place.  And so it remains.

The park is really beautiful.  I thought some of you might like to see the flowers.  It really is a worthwhile place in which to relax, given that so much of Korea is covered in concrete and asphalt.  It was originally built by the Japanese who settled nearby.  Unlike the Japanese, who have these perfectly arranged gardens, Korean gardens give nature quite a bit more freedom. 

Large Korean cities such as Seoul or Daegu are divided up into districts, each one bearing the designation “gu”.  This is the Jung-gu City Hall where the Jung-gu District Council meets. 

Now we are in the Japanese area of town.  While the Japanese who once lived here are long gone, there are some wooden buildings which bear an unmistakeable Japanese look.  I didn’t get any photos of them.  Japanese architecture tends to be more sombre than Korean or Chinese architecture tends to be.  The Japanese were also very good at imitating exactly Western styles of architecture.  This old building used to be a Japanese bank.  It is now hope to the Incheon Open Port Modern Architecture Museum.  Inside are scale models of the early 20th century buildings still to be found in Incheon today.

When Japan forced Korea to open up to trade, they promptly set up branches of their own banks here.  Here are a couple of old Japanese banks.  One of them bears the designation 朝鮮銀行 which would be pronounced Chosen ginko in Japanese or Joseon Eunhaeng in Korean.

This stone lantern-marked pathway indicates the boundaries between the Japanese concession and the Chinese concession.  There is also a large statue of Confucius on it.

When you arrive at the top of the stairs, you will find some murals depicting scenes from The Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三國演義).  This is one of the Chinese classic novels and absolutely must not be confused The History of the Three Kingdoms (三國史記) which is the oldest extant history of Korea.

Finally, we arrive back at Incheon station which, depending on your perspective, is either the end or the beginning of Seoul Subway Line 1.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for all the pictures. This was fascinating. Also, thanks for clearing up the History of the Three Kingdoms for me. I’m familiar with the ROTK, but I kept seeing the other title and wondered if the HotTK was another history text on the same subject. There are lots. ;D

    • Thanks for the comment. The History of the Three Kingdoms is the oldest history of the Baekje, Shilla, and Goryeo kingdoms. Eventually, the country would be united under one kingdom during the Shilla Dynasty. The Shilla were overthrown by the Goryeo dynasty. The capital city under Goryeo was in Gaeseong (Kaesong), North Korea. In 1392, Yi Seongye overthew the Goryeo monarchy and moved the capital to Seoul where it still remains today.

  2. Thanks for the pictures! Glad you can travel and see the sites! I hope the statue of General Douglas MacAurther stays up forever! That is very cool that you got to see that!


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