Mungyeong: Exploring rural Korea

Most Korean citizens live in identical high-rises in the cities.  These white towers climb 20 stories or more.  Having a house is almost unknown, unless you live in the country.  These days, however, younger people are flocking to the cities and droves and leaving the country pretty much empty.  I’ve never really had a reason to visit these remote locations… until recently.

I signed up for a day trip with the Daegu Compass, a local publication for foreigners.  We were originally going to go salmon fishing (with our hands!), but due to low water levels this was canceled.

We did many different things instead, and really enjoyed the countryside.  It’s easy to forget how beautiful Korea is when you can’t see anything but apartment blocks.  So many gorgeous mountains and beautiful rivers!

Omija berries

First, we went to an omija farm and made soap.  Omija is a five-flavored berry used mainly for tea.  We put some of the omija essence in our soap! Definitely a random activity, but we needed something to occupy the salmon-fishing time slot.

Making soap – mine is a robot!

Then we wandered outside to a giant pool full of salmon.  The farm employees hopped in there with nets and wrangled up a few fish.  One of our group was brave enough to try it himself! The water was only about knee-deep in some places, as opposed to chest-high, so it wasn’t as challenging as it would normally have been.

Posing with our lunch

After the fish were caught, the employees cut some up sashimi-style and threw some on the grill.  It was delicious!

on the grill

We then had a lovely bibimbap lunch at a restaurant nearby.  As if we weren’t full enough, we drove to an apple orchard to pick fruit.  The apples were huge! Mungyeong, the city we were in, is well-known for its apples.

Orchard in Mungyeong

One last activity to fill our itinerary… shooting! We went to the Mungyeong Shooting Range, which is located in a beautiful valley.  Koreans are forbidden from owning guns; there’s not even hunting in this country.  The military and police are the only exception.  A shooting range, therefore, is your only opportunity to hold or shoot a weapon.  I’d never been to a shooting range before, but I was pretty excited to try it out.  I opted for pistol shooting, and even got to aim at a paper target on the wall! Considering I’d never held a gun before, I think I did pretty well.

Just check out that inner circle!!
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Korean Scenery

The Korean Peninsula is covered with mountains.  As a result, most cities are in valleys and people live in tall high-rises.  Some people live in the country, however, and it is a sharp contrast from the concrete jungle.  The buildings and towns may be modest, but the views are not.  I’ve tried to capture these vistas with my camera, but I don’t do them any justice.  Still, I wanted to give my readers a glimpse of the Korean countryside – no apartment complexes to be seen.

Farm between Daegu and Busan
Rice paddies outside Daegu
Between Daegu and Gyeongju
Hanok (한옥), traditional Korean housing
Sunset near Gyeongju
Moonrise
More traditional housing in a farm village

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