Go to Gurye!
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Go to Gurye!
  • Bae A-rang & Jo Doo-rim, Repor
  • 승인 2009.05.12 16:44
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If you want to commune with nature
Have you ever shrunk in front of the infinite nature? I realized I was small in front of nature, right from Gurye ¬¬ Mountains beyond mountains, and Seom-jin Ri
Sansuyu festival (산수유꽃축제)
ver flowing beautifully all around Gurye. The city is surrounded by mountains and river.
You feel humble ahead of nature in Gurye, bounded by Jeollabuk-do to the north, Jeollanam-do to the south and Gyeongsangnam-do to the east.
So what happened? I felt familiar with the cab driver because we were both people from Jeolla-do. On the other hand, I was embarrassed to talk to certain Gurye people, who treat us coldly because they live near Gyeingsang-do.
But it is not all of Gurye. Now you can see the true colors of Gurye. Let’s start the Gurye travel story of Bae A-rang & Jo Doo-rim, reporters.

■ Hwagae Marketplace (화개장터)
"Across the Jeolla-do and Gyeonsang-do ~ "
You sing this song by Jo Young-nam automatically if you think Hwagae Marketplace. I hoped to visit the market when I went to Gurye, like the song’s lyric, "It's just a rural market that has everything it can.” The market was still cheerful next to Namdo Bridge, stretched out over Seomjin River, although it is declining because of a smaller number of visitors than before.
After taking a taxi for about an hour from Gurye Station, we finally arrived at the market. We exclaimed, "Here's Hwagae Marketplace!" The market was already active with many sightseers, in contrast to quiet Seomjin River.
In Hwagae Market, customers negotiated with shopkeepers while exchanging jokes, an old woman sold herbs raised with care and there were songs full of merry resonance with tasty makgeolli. Even merchants shared goods they had taken to sell with the visitors. The sight of the market roused a feeling of warmth. The place was filled with everything from food and medicinal items to chinaware and the necessities of life.
From among everyone, two Turkish shopkeepers impressed us most. Was it due to globalization? I was surprised that the men spoke to Koreans fluently. One man sold traditional Turkish food, kebabs and ice cream. Another man played a traditional musical instrument like an ocarina and introduced Turkish music through a performance for tourists. It was also full of affection. Hwagae market was small in size, but abundant in attractions. Even though it becomes weaker now, if it keeps the warmth of today, it is only a matter of time before it attracts more people.

Sansuyu festival (산수유꽃축제)
Besides Hwa-gae market (화개장터), the Sansuyu festival(산수유꽃축제)is also famous. Gurye-gun promotes this event, which opens at a hot spring area of Mt. Jiri in Sandong-myeon, Gurye-gun (구례군 산동면 지리산 온천지구 일대).
This year, the event was held from March 19-22nd. Some may think there would be nothing to see in the festival, but we can say it's not true. You can see a variety of performances, exhibitions, and sales beside yellow Sansuyu. You can also have a chance to experience things related to Korean tradition.
I went to the events on Saturday, and we guessed there would be many people there. But we didn't think the festival had such a large scale! We arrived there at about noon. We could see a big stage with an emcee in front of a huge vacant lot, where people sang a song and danced without any preparation or prior readiness.
The festival was crowded with people from whom we felt a heat and passion. The place was full of a festive mood. The Sansuyu festival seemed to try to tell people how beautiful its flowers bloom and what its fruit was. We saw lots of groceries made of Sansuyu such as bread, tea, cookies, and ice-cream, all of which tasted delicious.
As noted, you can experience traditional things there which you commonly couldn’t do or see: Tuho(투호), a traditional stick-throwing game; Neolttwigi(널뛰기), a traditional seesaw game; traditional top making(팽이만들기); millstone grinding(맷돌갈기); and so on.
Among the stands at the market, we were most interested in a tent that sold herbal remedies. At that place, herbal medicine was boiled down instantly and packaged. We could immediately watch herb extractors usually shown on TV. It was so interesting!
Another experience was to knead mugwort-dough. We were very interested as we watched five adults make mugwort rice cake. They put the mugwort into boiling water and made a mugwort-dough with it. Then they pounded the dough in a mortar.
Getting hungry, we decided to have lunch. Gurye is famous for vegetarian bibimbap called 'sanchae bibimbap', which comes with a variety of vegetable side dishes. We ate it for lunch, and it was tasty!!!
After having lunch, we moved to Sansuyu flower village. We could see many people who were taking photos with their family, friends, and sweethearts from place to place. We were refreshed.
■ Damurak village(다무락 마을)

We felt a surge of hope while looking at the Sansuyu trees that bloomed lovely in the biting winter wind. After enjoying it, we were glad we came to the Sansuyu festival, and we realized why many people visit. The reason is exactly this – the festival was so exciting!
If you want to feel the atmosphere of Spring, release stress, and find enjoyment in the nature, we recommend that you should go to Gurye, walking along the way with a lot of Sansuyu trees in full bloom!


■ Damurak village(다무락 마을)
Have you ever heard of Damurak(다무락) village? In Gurye, they designate four beautiful villages to help tourists experience a variety of nature. One of them is Damurak village. There are many famous places to visit in Gurye, but we decided to go here specially, even though it received less publicity.
The village’s name, Damurak, comes from a dialect and means ‘wall’, a title given because this village has many stone walls.
We took a taxi crossing over a river and passing a bridge, arriving at the village at last. Seomjin river was next to the village. We could see a traditional Korean house at the entrance. It was impressive that there were many signs for tourists who came here like me to find the Damurak village easily.
As soon as we arrived in Damurak village, We visited Hwanggimoa(황기모아), where we could experience activities with red clay. Hwanggimoa, which was remodeled eight years ago with the closed down Gyesan branch school(계산분교), has a name meaning ‘gather the soil power’. At this place you can now experience dyeing with red clay.
The wood sign in front of Hwanggimoa was so beautiful. There were very few people because it was late afternoon and the weather was getting dark. It gave us a scent of the soil from here and there, such as from a bronze statue that wore a red clay t-shirt or a drying rack that hung out the dyed clothes. We could see not only the dying of red clay but also a variety of red clay products.
After looking around Hwanggimoa, we decided to look around the village more. There were beautiful places such as 50 preserved thatched roof houses, a wall with funny folk paintings, and beautiful stone walls and houses.
Most of all, the fresh air and clear scenery made us feel better. How could the village be so quiet and peaceful? While looking around Damurak village, we thought that we really wanted to live like in this place,
If you want to get out of a tiring routine, feel the scenery of nature, and recall memories of past moments, you can do all of these in Damurak village. You should certainly visit this village, which is in harmony with big mountains and rivers! You won’t regret it.

How was traveling to Gurye with us? We will advise you about visiting Gurye yourself. First, prepare strong physical strength. Next, gather enough taxi fare because the base rate is 3000 won or more in Gurye. However, if you don't want to take a taxi, you need sufficient time for sightseeing by bus. In any case, do you want to go to Gurye? Intelligent choice! Go to Gurye and enjoy nature!

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