Category Archives: Outdoors

Travel

Chipmunk on the Way to Seokguram

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Adorable chipmunk on the way from the Seokguram grotto in Gyeongju!

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Seodaemun Prison History Hall

The notoriety of the Seodaemun (meaning the Great Western Gate) Prison may have been equivalent to those of the Auschwitz or Mauthausen in Korea during the first half of the twentieth century. To most young Korean-borns, it must be known as the site where Yoo-Gwan-Soon, a young, heroic female independence activist, was imprisoned and died at the bare age of sixteen. Even after the Liberation shortly after the conclusion of the WWII, the prison continued to be used to jail pro-democracy activists who resisted the authoritarian regimes. It’s living proof of the brutal human rights abuses during the colonial and modern periods.

I have been longing to visit this historic site ever since I read the biographies-for-children of the Korean nationalists who perished at the harsh treatments by the Japanese. Once there, the skyrocketing apartment buildings now surrounding the old construction gave me a weird feeling, but I was somewhat appreciative at the same time of the ongoing efforts to preserve such a historically meaningful site regardless of the commercial approaches.

The museum preserves and displays Seodaemun Prison signifying the suffering and pain of Koreans during the modern period. Here, independence and pro-democracy activists were jailed and martyred. Despite such a history of suffering, Koreans achieved independence and democracy. The Seodaemun Prison Hall represents the history of struggle to achieve Kroea’s independence and democracy with such indomitable spirit and potential. 

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The basement was where the worst forms of physical and psychological tortures and interrogations were perpetuated. Some of the tools and cells were preserved and displayed for the visitors to interact with.

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My favourite… The cells.

The halls were adorned with illustrated commemorations of the dying wills of the Korean nationalists.

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After nearly seventy years after the Liberation, the colonial history still haunts between the nations. You may have read from the newspaper about the increasing tension between the two nations in a number of issues. In my opinion, there are still a LOT to be done to successfully get over the humiliating history…  In the end, there is no justice to be done… It’s all about power. The Jews, now enjoying significant influence over the world, may have deserved to be sympathized and apologized for their past sufferings. Do Koreans have that same amount of power to yield the sincere apology from their past transgressors? I don’t think we are there yet.

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GyeoyungbokGung: Korean Royal Palace

Chuseok (Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving) is one of the major national holidays celebrated in South Korea. While I stayed in Canada it didn’t mean much, but since I revisited my home country after 13 years it was a wonderful opportunity to reunite with my relatives in Seoul.

Right after the day of Chuseok, I decided to pay a visit to several historic sites around the city. Gyeoyungbokgung is one of my dream destinations but I have never had a chance to pay a proper visit to the place until now.

For the Chuseok holiday, the place offers free entry to the visitors in Han-bok, Korean traditional costume, but I had to line up for about 20 minutes to get the pass.

Here’s a brief introduction to the site written on the ticket:

In 1395, three years after the founding of the Joseon Dynasty by King Taejo (Yi Seong-gye), the new main palace, Gyeongbokgung was completed after the capital of the new dynasty was moved from Gaegyeong to Seoul (then known as Hanyang). The palace was destroyed by fire during the Japanese invasion of 1592 and was not reconstructed until 1867, the fifth year of King Gojong. During the Japanese occupation from 1910 to 1945, most of the palace was torn down; only a few buildings including Gyeonghoeru Pavilion and Geunjeongjeon Hall were left standing. An effort to fully restore Gyeongbokgung Palace to its former glory has been ongoing since 1990.

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Geunjeongjun, the Throne Hall.

So freakin’ crowded!!

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Sajeongjeon, the Reception Hall

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Gangnyeongjeon and Gyotaejeon, the King and Queen’s Bedchambers. I didn’t know they were just behind the Throne Hall and Reception Hall.

The Queen must know the king’s every move if her bedroom was that close to his working space.

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Hyangwonjeong, The King’s Garden

My favourite

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Gyeonghoeru, the King’s Party Hall (my translation;;)

One of the most well-known constructions in the palace. Please pardon my rough photograph…

You should reserve 24 hours earlier in order to get entry to the hall.

I was only happy with the gorgeous external sight.

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With my company, my first uncle!

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Ottawa– Inside the Centre Block of Parliament

With a free ticket obtainable from the Hall Centre (90 Wellington St.), any visitor can enter a guided tour inside the Parliament building. During the 45 minutes of the tour, I enjoyed the pleasure of having a extensive look at the House of Commons, the Senate and Library of Parliament. Photography is allowed everywhere except Library of Parliament, a sparkling but strikingly small room. None of the working senator was present due to summer recess. 

The tour begins at the foyer of House of Commons and ends in the Confederation Hall. To such a lover of antiquity as myself, it was an excellent experience to breathe in the exquisitely carved walls with sparkling historic images.

Enjoy my humble shots below. The captions in italics are taken from the brochure.

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The House of Commons Chamber, at the west end of the Centre Block, is decorated in green in the tradition of the British House of Commons.

The rectangular Chamber is made of white oak and Tyndall limestone from Manitoba. The stone's freckled surface contains 450-million-year-old fossils.

The rectangular Chamber is made of white oak and Tyndall limestone from Manitoba. The stone’s freckled surface contains 450-million-year-old fossils.

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Stained glass in the House of Commons Chamber.

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In the Senate Chamber, at the east end of the Centre Block, red carpeting and upholstery and a ceiling of gold leaf create an air of regal splendour to signify the place where out Head of State meets Parliament.

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The Chamber’s upper walls are lined with murals depicting stirring scenes from the WWI.

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The ceiling is decorated with the emblems of England, Wales, Scotland, France and Canada.

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Stained glass commemorating diamond jubilees of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II.

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The Confederation Hall.

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Ceiling of the Confederation Hall

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Portrait of Queen Victoria in the foyer of the Senate Chamber. Her beloved husband, Prince Albert is also depicted in her bracelet.

My missed opportunity to visit a side Block of the Parliament building (starting in July) would make another chance to come back here once more.

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Ottawa– Parliament at night

My recent trip can undoubtedly be called my beginning of photography: this was the first occasion for me to take almost full control of my camera that has been in my possession for more than four years. This was also the first time I took night scenes with it. Of course my shots cannot be compared with the experienced and professional ones, but I proudly share them here!

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As you can see in the last two photos, a stage was being installed in front of the centre block of parliament for the Canada Day celebration. I wonder what performances are now being played…

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Ottawa– a private visit to the beloved capital of canada

Happy Canada Day!

Few days prior to this national holiday, I paid my second visit to Ottawa, this time on my own. I contemplated whether or not to delay this trip til July the first, but I finally decided to spend the holiday with my family.

My purpose of this trip was not really worth noting; I needed to spare some time to pursue my love of grand museums and galleries.  Canadian Museum of Civilization and National Gallery of Canada were among my much-anticipated destinations, along with a guided tour into the Parliament building.

A couple of tourists from Vancouver I met in the hostel dorm added my joy to accompany an photogenic excursion to sunset at the Ottawa River. Below are the shots I took along the way.

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Inside Osgoode Hall

Last Thursday, I paid a much-anticipated visit to Osgoode Hall, a heritage building in Toronto.  My love of history and my fading interest in law has instilled a sense of admiration to this historic site, but had not encountered a particular motivation to walk into the building until that day.

Below is the official introduction of the site and its architecture:

Osgoode Hall is a heritage building located at 130 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario. This historic site is the focus for legal activity in Ontario and has garnered attention for over 170 years. Osgoode Hall occupies six acres and was acquired by the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1829. The name Osgoode Hall honours William Osgoode the first Chief Justice of the province…. The interior of Osgoode Hall possesses unique architectural achievements. The heritage courtrooms are from the late 1800’s. Convocation Hall boasts ten gorgeous stained glass heraldic windows covering 4,000 years of law. The Great Library touted as the most beautiful room in Canada has an intricate ceiling, cork floors and triple cube design. The rotunda is spectacular from the original tiling on the floor to the elegant arched pillars surrounded by elaborate oil paintings of former Chief Justices of the Province. Since 1840 Osgoode Hall has been co-owned by the Ontario Government and the Law Society. The Court of Appeal for Ontario, the Superior Court Of Justice and the Law Society of Upper Canada currently reside at Osgoode Hall.”

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During my short visit, I practiced basic command of photography, mainly choosing the subject and post-correction via Photoshop. I hope my new hobby will progress enough to get a good camera and more occasions to go out and visit famous sites and buildings.

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