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Visiting the City of Gunsan in South Korea
Korea has a complicated, heartbreaking history, but in Gunsan the struggle to grapple with the past is especially strong. In cities like Seoul, most of the city was torn apart first by the Japanese then by the Korean war, and then again in the 80s by the desire to "modernize." So when you look at Seoul, you have to actively look for pieces of hardships of the 20th century. Gunsan though was not touched by the Korean war (except for losing their train station) so all of the architecture from the 1920s that the Japanese built while they colonized the country and set up a system of taking all of their food, remains. Gunsan does a fantastic job of showcasing the history while also standing up for Korea and sharing the hardships the citizens went through during this time. It was a great history lesson and I'm thankful that they had so much info in English! First stop was Cafe Teum, an old grainery that turned into a cafe after it was abandoned and in disarry. Then I went to the Hitotsu House, a two story Japanese style house in the center of the Shinheungdong neighborhood where all the rich Japanese people lived before the 1950s. It's very rare to see any Japanese architecture in Korea because it was all torn down by the war or by citizens wanting to tear down what the colonizers left behind. Next was Dongguksa, the only Japanese style temple left in Korea. It was stunning and so peaceful with a little tea house and tons of bamboo. Last up was the rail town and architecture museum which I adored. I learned so much on this trip and I hope you learned something too :) Watch my trip there here:
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