Soldiers see Gyeonggi-do on cultural tour
November 29, 2006
The sounds of bells ring out in the early morning at Bongsan temple as 2nd Infantry Division Soldiers gathered around the open doorways, gazing inward toward the direction of the sound.
The Soldiers were on a Korean Cultural and Industrial tour sponsored by the Gyeonggi Provincial government. The trip was offered free of charge to help give Soldiers an understanding of the Korean culture in which they live.
The first stop of the tour was Bongsan temple located in Namyangju. The temple, which was founded in 969 during the Goryeo dynasty, is home to Buddhist monks. Every morning, surrounded by the beautiful mountain scenery, the monks offer prayers using bells and chants in front of a large statue of Buddha.
Following a traditional Korean lunch of bulgogi, the tour stopped at Heyri Art Village. Created in 1997, this village located in Paju presents the artistic culture of Korea. Over 370 artists call this village home, including writers, painters, architects and musicians.
There is much to see in the art village. You can watch an artist work or see the finished product in one of the museums of galleries. The name Heyri comes from the traditional farming song in Paju.
In the afternoon, Soldiers witness the future of technology at the LG Phillips LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) Display Cluster in Paju.
The facility is the largest LCD-producing facility in the world. Soldiers received a sneak peek at what next-generation LCD monitors will look like, including the world's largest seventh-generation LCD, which is 90-inches wide.
After getting a glimpse of the future, Soldiers took a look into the past at the Baesangmyun Brewery. At the Korean winery, Soldiers learned about traditional Korean liquor that has been brewed for centuries.
They were educated in the brewing process from both the past and modern eras on the brewery tour. Visitors also sampled and tasted different types of traditional Korean wine.
Following the wine testing, Soldiers received a meal of gal-bi, or Korean barbeque, and checked in at the Adonis Hotel in Pucheon. The hotel has a restaurant, and more importantly for the Soldiers, a karaoke room.
Day two began with breakfast at the hotel, and then the Soldiers were off to the Samsung Electronics factory in Suwon. The facility, which is also the head office for the corporation, was founded in 1969. At that time, the company only had 36 employees.
Now, there are over 130,000 employees. Soldiers were able to go on a walking tour of the facility, including the display gallery. The gallery is home to all of Samsung's latest electronics, from mobile phones and computers, to televisions and refrigerators. Soldiers also viewed the Samsung museum, which holds examples of electronics from the company's past.
After visiting the Samsung facility, Soldiers headed to the Korean Folk Village in Yongin. The village was opened in 1974 as an open-air museum displaying Korean folk culture and traditions. Soldiers were able to view traditional craft-making such as pottery and basket weaving.
The traditional customs prevalent during the Joseon dynasty have been maintained at the folk village unchanged.
The last stop on the tour was the Incheon Ceramic Village. Soldiers were able to witness traditional Korean pottery-making techniques in the village. They also made their own pottery and decorated it with ink. The pottery was then fired in the kiln before it was mailed back to the Soldiers. The village has over 40 traditional wood-burning kilns in operation used to prepare the ceramic wares.
The two-day tour ended with a dinner in Uijeongbu. Soldiers who went on the tour saw the Gyeonggi province in a whole new light. The tour allowed them to view a cultural side of Korea they may have otherwise not seen.