Our home for the year is Jeongok (전곡) a small town on the banks of the Hantang River. Home to around 20,000 people and situated just 15km from the North Korean border, Jeongok is a vibrant little place with a lot going for it. We like it and you should too.
You can see in the google map images below how the town sits amongst the many rivers and streams of the area.What isn’t shown is the many mountains that also shape the town.
***Warning – town planner talk ahead***
The town has a clearly defined older core, this area which is immediately west of the train station typifies older Korean urban areas. Narrow streets with low scale mixed use buildings and active commercial street frontages are dominant. This part of town is the most vibrant and clearly speaks to the need for quick growth post-war, growth that wasn’t centred around the car.
North and South of the central core and east of the train line are areas of more recent additions to the town. These areas are very similar to apartment developments seen in Korea over the past few decades. Clusters of apartments, largely devoid of street interaction, with clear delineations of land uses. They are reminiscent of the Le Corbusier urban dream, now largely criticised for its various deficiencies. The streets in these areas are quieter, with less pedestrian activity stemming from the lack of things to do.
***Planner talk ends – regular talk commences***
Our first impressions of the area when we were told where we were being placed where entirely wrong. We assumed, like towns of this size at home, that we would be isolated from all civilisation. Luckily, we were very wrong.
Due to the proximity to the border, there is a large number of soldiers and visitors to the area. These extremely bored conscripts (they watch the border for us) flood the town every day and bring a huge appetite (I assume due to all the marching and artillery practice); therefore Jeongok has easily 300 places to eat, plus tonnes of bars (hofs).
We haven’t tried them all yet, but we are working on it!!
By far the most impressive part of Jeongok is the 2 river parks. The main park is about 3km to the South of town, while a smaller one sits just to the east of the train station.
The larger park is a major tourist attraction, drawing people from everywhere to the area. The park is on section of the river where the banks are flat so the river is very accessible. Long lineal parks, Korean versions of caravan parks and sporting areas are spotted along the river. The river itself is shallow, shin deep for the most part.
The second river park is located right in town. It commands sweeping views of the river below with gazebos, exercise areas and sweeping paths. We first went at the end of winter and the park had an eerie feeling about it with everything grey and dead. We went back the other week and everything is coming to life. We can’t wait to see the park once spring really hits!
’till next time 🙂