The following day we headed to Jeonju (전주시), the capital of North Jeolla province located in the southwestern part of the Korean peninsula.
In the past, the area that included Jeonju was part of the Baekje kingdom and founded in 57 B.C. Our tour guide took us to the Jeonju Hanok Village (전주한옥마을), where Yi Seok, the last prince of the Joseon dynasty resided. The village itself is comprised of 800 traditional Korean houses and blends well with the modern buildings in the background. One can easily wander around the alleyways and discover various sights and delights, including a museum about the production of rice wine and rice cakes as well as the history of the village; and beautiful mural art.
Ancient Tombs in Songsan-ri – Royal Tomb of King Muryeong (무령왕릉)
Gongju National Museum (국립공주박물관)
Gongsanseong Fortress (공산성)
After enjoying the splendors of Seoul, we joined the next tour that explored the western part of Korea, starting in Gongju (공주시) city located in the eastern part of Chungcheongnam-do (South Chungcheong) Province. Gongju (previously named Ungjin) was the ancient capital of the Baekje kingdom during 475-538 A.D. The city lies on the banks of the Geumgang River and is surrounded by two beautiful mountain ranges: Charyeongsan Mountain Range in the north and Gyeryongsan Mountain in the southeast.
Huddled in the mountains are various historical sites related to the Baekje kingdom. Our first stop was Magoksa Temple (마곡사), the main temple of the 6th diocese of the Jogye order of Buddhism in Korea. Founded in 643 by Precepts Master Jajang under the patronage of Queen Seondeok, the temple is a charming sight, especially in the spring and autumn.
The Taehwacheon Stream flows in front of the temple, giving the temple grounds a peaceful atmosphere. It is speculated that the name of this temple was dedicated to the preceptor monk, Magok Bocheol, who had attracted crowds of visitors to this temple in ancient times.
During the Joseon (조선) dynasty (1392-1910), Yi Seong-gye established his capital in Hanyang (modern-day Seoul서울) and brought forth a dynasty that would last more than 500 years; this led to many cultural, scientific, and technological achievements that would define Korean history.
Seoul, today, is home to one-fifth of the country’s population (about 9.8 million) and has remained South Korea’s capital since its founding. Its sprawling metropolis is divided into 25 districts, but it can be visualized as two halves: north and south of the Han River (Hangang). Our guided tour primarily focused on the districts north of the Han River.
We arrived in Seoul on October 5th from Tokyo, Japan. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a Hanatour driver, who took us to the Center Mark hotel. After refreshing ourselves, we explored the city on our own that same evening.
Our guided tour began on October 6th at Gwanghwamun Square (광화문광장) that enshrines a statue of King Sejong the Great, the fourth ruler of the Joseon dynasty and founder of Hangul—the Korean writing system. The Square was the center of the tumultuous history of South Korea; from the March 1st Independence Movement to civil revolution against the Japanese annexation of Korea to celebration of the Candlelight Culture Festival, the Square withstood these changes and represents the Korean spirit of democracy.
During my visit to South Korea on October 5 to 13, 2017, I had the pleasure of going with my family on a guided tour from Hanatour. We explored Seoul, and then traveled to the western part of Korea and to Jeju Island.
Since the last update in January, most things have been settled. Returning to the East Coast did mean that I had to adjust to the weather and the work culture. While it was not much different at work (since I just transferred within the same company), it just took me a bit of time to get used to the people and the environment. I connected with people and explored the area, getting to know what is out there. It helped that I had been in this part of the East Coast during my visits to my paternal family in the past, so it was not entirely a new experience.
These past few months I have worked on mini creative projects, including making a pin banner to display my pin collection and drawing personal cards for family and friends. Please see Gallery » Traditional Art » Card Designs for the most recent designs. In addition, I have been continuing to build upon healthy habits while finding time for myself in between work and family matters.
In the upcoming month of May, I will be posting my travel journals for South Korea (2017) on a semi-regular schedule (once to twice a week). Just in time for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! If progress is satisfactory, I will also work on finishing up the remaining travel journals for my trips to China in 2018 and 2019; and Singapore 2019.
Also, in the works, is a major project! After almost three years since the end of the web series, A Gathering of Heroes: Anhu, Taki and I have decided to return with a new story set in the same setting but with xianxia elements and some returning characters. The story will be special in that I had– on whim– commissioned an artist to help with designing two of the major characters; both of whom have been around in a story concept that I had from my younger days. We are currently in the story development phase, so it will probably not be debuted until Winter 2022/Early 2023 (should things go well!).
That is all for now! Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy!
My apologies for going MIA. I was in the process of moving across the continent in October 2021, and now, I have more or less settled in with some things still in progress.
2021 was a tumultuous year of changes and challenges. From receiving the Covid-19 Moderna vaccine to handling the rapid, abrupt changes at work, it was all about finding ways to cope and to be safe. I had to learn to adapt to change rapidly and to prepare for the move. This meant sorting out what I did not need, what I could sell, and what I wanted to keep.
Most importantly, I spent more time with family, celebrating small joys and overcoming challenges with them. When things don’t work out as planned, something else will work out in one’s favor.
As for the goals of 2021, I have read 48 books (including light novels and manga), completed CEs, and practiced Chinese regularly. Unfortunately, I was not able to do some writing.
For 2022, I plan on building on and tracking my habits using Habitca and Mossery’s yearly planner.
Complete a sudoku book.
Write a short story about my original characters.
Read 50 books based on the Popsugar challenge.
Exercise for 30 minutes 3 times a week.
Journal daily for 30 minutes.
Complete a crafting or personal project every month using the materials I already have.
Complete 5 video games over the course of year. Cannot buy until 5 are completed.
I saw this meme going around Raichana’s Twitter and figured I should participate. After looking over my list, I realized that most of the games I picked are dated in the 1990s-early 2000s.
Golden Sun (Gameboy Advance, Camelot, 2001)
My most favorite game of all time is Golden Sun. In addition, it is also one of the few games that I played without any guides. Countless hours were spent figuring out the puzzles and speaking to all the non-playable characters (NPCs) as I unraveled the mysteries of alchemy alongside Issac and his friends. When Golden Sun: The Lost Age came out, I immediately played the game from beginning to end, experiencing the story from Felix’s perspective and trying to resolve the loose ends from the previous game. The battle music from both games is quite memorable and occasionally I would listen to the soundtrack for inspiration. Without Golden Sun, I probably would not have developed an interest in solving puzzles or world building.