On the next day – January 24th – once again we went to meet William. He was going to give an English lesson, but at the same time he was so kind that he offered to take us in his car to the Busan museum . The museum was free – in South Korea they are usually free. Inside there were interesting historical exhibits , ranging from the ancient history of these lands to modern times, all presented in a way encouraging to immerse within the Korean history.
We learned, among other things that in the history of Korea there were the 3 kingdoms: Silla, Baekje and Goryeo – the latter is the source of the origin of the modern name of Korea in European languages - actually in Korean language the name of the country is either Hanguk (in the south ) or Choson ( in the north). It is oversimplification, but we can say, that later, Korea united , and for more than 500 years it was ruled by the Joseon dynasty. The next stage was the period of Japanese domination, which is still today a cause of mistrust of the Koreans towards their neighbors from eastern islands. It’s quite hard to describe history of this fascinating country in such short words, we should just write, that Korean museums are really well organized – almost everywhere there is information in English, and often also in Japanese and Chinese (last two rather not too helpful for Poles). A good example of how cool these museums are is the room illustrating how Busan got modernized – the floor was partially made of glass and under it the small (electric ?) train was going between models of Busan houses – there were really a lot of such details and I’m sure that everyone who is interested in history will find in Korea something that will draw his attention.
Near the museum there is one more place where you can feel the history, unfortunately, in its sad aspect. We visited the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, where are buried the soldiers killed during the Korean War (1950-1953). History of Korea in the twentieth century is marked by suffering, because it was painfully torn apart after the World War II – the North felt under the influence of the USSR and the South – USA . Soldiers who have their last resting place in Busan, fought with the communist invasion from the north as United Nations forces. Those who are a little bit interested in the international politics, probably know that the Soviet Union – and now Russia – have the right to veto in the UN Security Council – so how then UN decided to send troops to Korea? The reason was the boycott of the UN Security Council by the USSR – and thereby losing the possibility to exercise the right of veto. I doubt , however, that for the soldiers fighting in Korea it had any greater significance – they died far from home and left their families in mourning. Perhaps not everyone knows that among the dead are many Filipinos, Turks or Dutch – but the vast majority still was formed by Americans. Someone asked us whether Poles fought in Korea. During the most brutal period of communism in Poland if Poles would be sent to Korea as soldiers, their mission would be rather to kill Americans than to support them.
After sad walk among the tombstones we went to the memory wall , where they were the names of all the fallen engraved, nevertheless we found among the American soldiers a lot of Polish surnames – most of them probably from the state of Illinois, the center of Polish emigration in the USA – Chicago. After a visit to the cemetery , William came and took us to lunch. We had fried rice in a local restaurant. It is worth to mention that chopsticks here are metal version . I really like it because of the economy. In Japan, chopsticks are usually wooden and after the meal they throw it away… (how many trees die!)
After the meal we went to the Jaseongdae park combined with a small museum and the walls of the old fortress. We walked on the sharp stones (probably good for health ) and practiced hula hoops. There was a free gym, like in a lot of places in South Korea. Mostly you can meet there older people. In healthy body – healthy mind !
William went with us to the place where we met with Kyubin – our good friend , whom we met in Gdansk during his exchange student programme . It was very funny because Kyubin asked William what we saw in Busan .For a long moment they stood and debated what we were doing before – mentioning a lot of names that we couldn’t understand.
With Kyubin we went to the Taejongdae park – with picturesque cliffs at the sea, long stairs leading to the lighthouse where we could watch the ships. We were just in time to see wonderful sunset . And then we went for a tasty barbecue ( everlasting apetite for meat ! – on the way to Taejongdae Jowita ate a fried silkworm – not so yummy looking bug – but one bug is to small for a Polish stomach). This time it was beef. We talked long emptying bottles of soju. It was a Friday, the center Busan. Lots of drunken Koreans. Some already ” destroyed “, lying on the sidewalks . We met with Patrick – our host and we went to the bar for a beer. Korean beer didn’t amazed us , so we ordered the American beer Indica . Quite tasty with a perceptible note of hops.
After the beer we went to another place where we ate an omelette and drank rice wine Makgeolli (another very popular in Korea alcohol – bottle costs less than 2 euro in shops) . Before the restaurant there was a huge statue of the erected penis. Perhaps this symbol has some meaning in Korean culture – we were wondering whether to go to the park figures penises “Haesindang Park ” but eventually we thought that penises are not that interesting for us. In addition, the statue of huge penises seems unconsidered from a psychological point of view. Greek gods on statues usually have very small penises, so that men could feel better. At the sight of 2 meters high and thick like an oak tree trunk a guy feels just little.