Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Goguryeo Blacksmith Village

A couple of weekends ago I visited Goguryeo Blacksmith Village near Guri in eastern Seoul. Constructed originally as a set for several Korean TV dramas, the village was designed to resemble a village of the ancient Goguryeo Empire, which ruled over a large northern portion of the Korean peninsula from 37 BC to 668 AD. The Empire drew much of its military strength from its superior ironware technology, and many of its villages and cities centred around their blacksmiths and other metal-based industries. Goguryeo actually leant its name to the later Goryeo dynasty, from which the English word "Korea" stems.
Now the former film set is open to the public, and for 3000 Won you can explore this little village perched in a tiny valley in the outskirts of Seoul. I don't know if it was because I visited during the Lunar New Year weekend or because the village is relatively off the beaten track, but there was literally no one there when I went, and I got to have the whole village to myself. This is a very rare luxury in overpopulated, perpetually busy Korea, so I relished the experience. Here are some photos I took.

There's no metro station near the village so I had to get a bus to a quiet area just near the Han River.
I saw some cute little dogs near a shop by the road.

Jindo dogs, popularly used as outdoor guardians of homes and other buildings. They're usually really friendly though, so I don't know if they make very good guard dogs.

Following the icy path up to the village. 
A quiet car park. There were some people here for hiking in the nearby mountains, but no one was interested in the blacksmith village.

I wonder if real citizens of the Goguryeo Empire actually ate dinner underneath the rain and snow. I also wonder if they owned HD TVs like the one in the background above.

As you'd expect, there were lots of blacksmith tools lying around in the village.

The main blacksmith's shop. Its design was based on the ancient groundwork of a real blacksmith shop dug up in nearby Mount Acha.

More tools and weapons inside the blacksmith's shop. The inner geek in me immediately felt like I was walking through a real-life Skyrim.

Apparently, on nearby Mount Acha, you can see half a face in the rocks.
I couldn't see anything though. Too much snow! 
A cardboard cutout of characters from a Korean drama show that was filmed here.

In one part of the village was some string where you could hang a piece of paper. I think you're probably supposed to write a wish...
...but I just wrote a line from Le Petit Prince instead, because it's one of Angela's favourite quotes. 

I bought a bottle of water from an outdoors vending machine but it ended up being completely frozen due to the weather. It's times like these I really can't wait for winter to be over. 
After I left the blacksmith village I went for a short hike on nearby Mount Acha.

I followed the frozen river up in the side of the mountain.

Looking back down at Goguryeo Blacksmith Village.

On the way back down to the main road I passed what looked like a tiny shanty village made out of corrugated iron.
A very modern petrol station backdropped by very traditional Korean houses.
If you're interested in visiting the blacksmith village, you can find directions at this website. I'd say it's definitely worth a quick visit, especially as it's much quieter than most touristy places in Seoul, and you can also enjoy some hiking in the nearby mountains.

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