Monday, October 15, 2012

Chinju, and the lantern festival... daytime

 Chinju was my first taste of Korea back in 1999.  Now in 2012 having seen a lot of Korea, even if I could, I would not change a thing.  Chinju was a magical place back then and that magic endures today.  Especially in the beginning of October during the harvest and the lantern festival.  Since 2009 this is the first time we have made it down there this time of year.  I have shown Amber and the kids pictures and tried to describe the festival but words don't do it justice.
 My old missionary house was just down the road from this landmark that we warmly referred to as the "Disneyland church."  Me and my trainer attended a service here once as sort of a trade with a congregation member.  We ended up causing a bit of a stir so we left so as to not detract from the services.
 The kids were troopers.  Back when I was a kid we didn't worry about car seats....
 This is the first church I was assigned to.  I still remember walking through the doors freaked out to give my introductory address in a language I had only been studying about a month.  My fears were dispelled when the old bishop grabbed my hand, put his head on my shoulder and told me something I understood, "thank you."  There didn't used to be a parking lot but rather a small garden with a fruit tree.
 Next we journeyed to the fortress.
 We did our tail-gate thing to get ready.
 Here is a description of some of the history of the fortress.  Chinju was one of the only cities during the Imjin War to present a real challenge to the Japanese.  There are many stories of heroic acts, and the people here are very proud of their heritage. 
 So fun to be here with my family.

 What a soldier.

 The festival has grown since the first time I came to it.  There are now many games for the kids to try.

 Logan tried his hand at the battle cart.  Inside the fortress is one of the only museums dedicated to the Imjin war.  It has some awesome artifacts, such as battle dress, documents, and regular everyday dishes and tools.  Out front they have some of the indigenous weaponry including the armored horse-drawn pillbox, which is considered one of the earliest tank-like designs.  They also had the Hwacha (a cart with tens of rockets that launched from it kind of like an MRL.  They tested it on Mythbusters once.

 Addy showing off her smile.
 I was surprised to see that we could climb anywhere we wanted.

 Logan volunteered to get his behind paddled...
 Logan love magpies.

 They even had a military procession.

 Here are some of the big lanterns in the middle of the Nam river.

 I have seen "The Red Face," "The Black Face," but this was a first, "The Route Yeah."
 Happy farmers in Chia Pet style.

 Chinju's leading war hero Nongae.  When the Japanese first attacked the city, the Koreans were able to fend off the attack.  Unfortunately, Hideyoshi took it personal and when his forces returned all of the defenders were killed.  All that was left were the magistrates Gisaengs (sort of like a geisha).  Having been victorious in the bloody battle, the Japanese generals drank the magistrate's wine and got very drunk.  Nongae led one of the generals out to a rock on the edge of the Nam river.  She then embraced him, locked her fingers and jumped into the river.
 Nongae's rings became a symbol of Chinju.  If you keep an eye out for them, they show up everywhere.  If you look for Chinju on Google maps you will see that the city has several roundabouts.  Their flag shows their symbol which is a four pointed star made by interlocking rings.

 The rings hold up the bridges.
 They adorn the light posts.
 Here they are again.

 When I was a missionary, on the opening day of the festival, our bus got stuck in traffic as it was crossing the bridge so we got off and saw the lanterns just as the sun was about to set.  We made our way to the fortress just in time for the opening of the festival.

 Down along the river there are hundreds of tents set up selling food, and trinkets.

 We got pulled into a tent for pork BBQ.
 Though the kids only tried a bite and I was left to eat it all myself, it was very delicious.
 There was also crab...
 And dolphin???
 It was just a mess of people, smells, and sights.
 After looking around we made our way back to the makeshift bridge on the river.
 Logan got a great deal on a back scratcher.... how nice of them to share:)

 This lantern depicts the miraculous birth of a King.  He hatched from an egg.
 There is the "make-shift" bridge we crossed.
 This lantern depicts the Japanese attack.  One of the determining factors of Japanese success was that they had rifles, where the Koreans initially only had arrows and rocks.
 Gangnam style is felt here too... the fat guard was made to look like PSY.
 Out front a man sold some freezing cold melon bars.  So cold that Logan's tongue stuck to it!
 Addy went with the strawberry.
 Looks hard enough to write, I can't imagine being the guy that inscribed it into the stone tablets.
 Tag in the courtyard.

 The Ho Kuk Bell.
 My first time here, the courtyard was filled with students dressed in colorful traditional clothing.  And then the Mayor rang the bells 80 times.  We didn't make it here for the opening of the festival but that was kind of nice since we didn't have to fight so many crowds.

 General Kim Si-min who took over for the magistrate when the Japanese invaded for the first time.  He held off 20,000 Japanese with fewer than 10,000.  During the battle he was shot in the head and died soon thereafter.  These statues always make the men they depict look old, but in fact he was 39 when he died.

 In the decades and centuries that passed following the war, monuments were placed throughout the city and in the 1970s they were gathered together and placed within the fortress.  Many are nearly crumbling away.

 These are the remains of the "dragon bridge."  It was destroyed during the Korean war but before that, it was a place where frogs gathered to mourn the tragic suicides of two lovers.  The myth was that every time that lovers crossed the bridge the frogs would stop crying.

 When I was a missionary I set up the camera to take a picture of myself (click here to see the original).  Now, every time I make it back to Chinju fortress, I take a picture here.

 The sun eventually went down.
And the lanterns were lit.   To be continued.

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