Early on a warm Sunday morning I took a walk around Tapgol park (38-1 Jongno 2(i)-ga, Jongno-u, Seoul). When you travel you have to open your eyes, have an open mind and be prepared to experience events on an emotional level – in other words open your heart.
Tapgol is a small park, but very significant, and allows you to practice all three of the above principles.
The ‘eyes’ is always the easiest, and with the Daewongaksabi stone monument, the Wongaksa pagoda (or Wongaksaji Sipcheungseoktap), and the ten copper murals there is plenty to see.
The March 1st Movement monument – Korean Declaration of Independence from Japan
If you click this and the next image you should be able to read the text. It is very optimistic – and quite sad when you realise the civil war, and split between North and South that would come after the long-dreamt of independence.
How much do you know about segmentation (or hyphenation) in Korean, the same is true in reverse, especially when this was carved in stone!
Independence movement copper murals
These ten, almost life size, copper murals are harrowing and like the declaration of independence overshadowed by the thought that after occupation and independence would come war and separation.
Wongaksa pagoda (or Wongaksaji Sipcheungseoktap)
This is a 10-story stone pagoda and Korean National Treasure Number 2. Daewongaksabi (a stone monument) records the history of Wongaksa (Temple) and was designated the third Treasure of Korea.
As I was reading this information panel, a Korean adult male who appeared to have learning difficulties eagerly approached me. Dressed in a dark suit he pointed to what he knew wasn’t Korean, I read the words and he smiled, I continued to read and he continued to smile, in his excitement his pointing moved over the words more quickly than I read but he clearly enjoyed hearing these foreign words spoken by a foreigner. He scampered away very happy and excited. A few minutes later as I was walking to the park exit, he returned to me and hugged me in thanks and friendship. I was a moment of happiness for us both and I sincerely regret not taking a picture of my new friend – who I’ll never met again. (actually you can see my friend walking to towards me in the reflection of the panel)
Other pictures from the park
When researching Tapgol Park I found an interesting, and now ‘finished’, blog ‘Nathan’s Updates from Seoul‘ which talks about a trip to the park and aspect of Koreans’ feelings towards Americans – which wasn’t my experience in the park (fortunately).