Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I took these pics in 2008 while I was staying at a friend's grandparents' house in a farming village in Namhae. It was quite a shock, as just two days after arriving in Korea, instead of staying in Seoul and getting acquainted with the city, my friend suddenly announced that we would be going to the countryside immediately.

This was the view from my friend's grandparents' front yard at about 7:30 am. A beautiful mist surrounds the top of the mountain in the distance and green rice paddies can be seen stretching up to it. The houses you see are all traditional-style one-storey Korean houses with a single hallway in the front that joins all the rooms with the front door. A few decades ago these would likely have had old clay-tiled roofs, but they were replaced with steel roofs after the government initiated a plan to improve rural housing. The blue roof is a newer example of this.

The air here was very fresh and the place was beautiful. Mostly elderly people and children populated the village and it was possible to see them farming and feeding various farm animals in their daily work. Early one morning I took a walk around the village and turned a few heads. Most people in a village like this have cable TV and cellphones, so they know what foreigners look like -- they just don't see them in their village too often. It was a very special experience. I stayed here for four days, and every morning I could hear the roosters crow. One morning I was drinking soju with my friend's grandmother, who spoke a heavy local dialect of Korean that I couldn't understand. She knew this, I bet, but she just kept on talking to me in it. Hee hee, I love old folks! Apparently it's relatively common for farmers to drink a little soju before the day's work starts. Some say it's to help digestion; others say it's to relieve the monotony of farm work.

This was down the road from the house I was staying in. It appears to be a small private rice plot that likely belongs to one of the families in the village (this is just a guess). Private farming plots can be seen all over Korea, even close to the cities. I saw some growing corn, rice, tomatoes, potatoes and all kinds of things. 


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