Saturday, 25 April 2009
Yesterday I was taken on a wonderful drive south of Jeonju to a city called Namwon - which is known as the City of Love - because of a famous love story that is supposed to have happened at Namwon.
The story is that Ch'unhyang was a beautiful maiden, and was seen by a nobleman, the son of the magistrate, and he fell in love with her. The magistrate was transferred to Seoul, and the son went too as he was to study. While they were gone from Namwon, another man became magistrate, but he spent a lot of time in brothels and in time came to see the beautiful Ch'unhyang and wanted her for himself.
She remained faithful to the son of the magistrate, and despite being tortured she refused to marry the wicked magistrate, who was about to have her executed when the young man returned to Namwon and heard the story of his beautiful Ch'unhyang. He disguised himself as a beggar and intervened to save his beautiful maiden. She married him and they lived happily every after.
Namwon celebrates this story with an annual festival - where the girls dress in traditional Korean costume and parade through the streets.
Meanwhile anyone can visit the park where the story is celebrated. After a fee of 2,000 Won. I asked about Seniors discount, which they don't have - but I told the man "I am very old" and he gave me a free ticket. I paid for my student friend!
Inside the park were huge swings - similar to the one that Ch'unhyang is supposed ot have been swinging on when the young man first saw her.
There is a re creation of a house and compound similar to what the girl would have lived in - many years earlier.
My student/tour guide thought it would be a quiet day in the park - after all it was a Friday, but there were bus loads of students there.
We walked around and viewed the many things in the park, before leaving through the myriad of little shops near the exit. We had lunch there - a spicy dish of acorn paste, spring onion, cabbage, and sesame seeds.