An Old Village Photo Journal #3: Mungyeong (문경)

Mungyeong (Korean: 문경 Mungyeong) is a city in Gyeongsangbuk Province, South Korea. The local government, economy, and transportation networks are all centered in Jeomchon, the principal town. Mungyeong has a lengthy history, and is known today for its various historic and scenic tourist attractions. The city’s name means roughly “hearing good news.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Mungyeong produces the best omija (오미자) berries in Korea, so make sure to try the omija tea or omija makgeolli (막걸리, traditional liquor). The yakdoldwaejigogi (약돌돼지고기, yakdol pork) and yakdolhanu (약돌한우, yakdol beef) are local specialties available only in Mungyeong; you will see many restaurants at the entrance of Mungyeongsaejae Provincial Park offering these delicacies. The Mungyeong chatsabal and omija festivals also give visitors a great chance to sample some of the cuisine for which the region is famous. ~ (Source: Official Site of Korea Tourism Org.)

The visit to Mungyeong was one of those spur of the moment things that seem to happen in the company of my co-umpires. It was a Saturday and the first day of the final races for rowing’s Asian Olympic Qualifying in Chungju just ended. The others suggested some sightseeing trip and almost everyone was eager to go.

Since it was our first time in the city, we left it to Han (our Korean co-umpire who’s been graciously helping us the whole time) to decide which place to visit. It turned out that it was also Han’s first time in Chungju so he sought the help of our designated bus driver in recommending one of the many attractions in the area. It was a good thing that we let the ahjumma chose because I probably would have missed out on some unforgettable experiences we had that day.

We were given two choices. It’s either we go for a trip to a famous dam or a popular “old TV series village” as Han coined it. Between the prospect of visiting a dam (which most of us were not particularly keen on given the amount of time we’ve been spending on water at the rowing course) and the “old TV series village”, the latter won. Besides, ahjumma was already driving us towards that direction saying that we have to turn around if we decide to go to the dam. The “old TV series village” turned out to be the Mungyeongsaejae KBS Drama Studio. The said shooting site was built at the heart of Mungyeongsaejae – the park where we were headed. For a Korean drama addict like me, it was the most amazing and unexpected surprise of that memorable spring day.

Walking in pairs towards the unknown. We didn’t have a guide because the ahjumma who drove us there chose to stay in the bus.
It was a long stretch of road going to the park and there were many people. Apart from being a Saturday, the Mungyeong Traditional Chasabal Festival was ongoing hence the huge crowd. Our first stop was for some picture taking in front of this building. I’m guessing it’s the Mungyeong Sejae Museum since it looked exactly like a photo of it I’ve seen somewhere. I chose my co-umpire’s photo since mine didn’t turn out as good as his.
While the others were still busy taking pictures, Han got hold of a map.
The road ahead.
My first hint of the town’s name sans the map.
Before entering the gate, we got sidetracked by these contraptions. If you have plans of laying siege to a castle then these just might greatly increase your chances of breaching its walls.
Many more picture takings after, we’ve finally arrived at the gate.
Imagining guards of bygone eras manning this gate.
Of roads taken
This way to Mungyeongsaejae KBS Drama Studio otherwise known as the “old TV series village”. Where Korean drama addicts like me would likely recognize places where several historical dramas and movies were filmed.
Some of the tile-roofed houses in the quaint village.
And some thatched houses…
Time for some snacks.
One of the Korean pizzas ordered with servings of omija makgeolli (막걸리, traditional liquor). The best omija (berries) in Korea is said to be found in Mungyeong. I’m not much of an alcohol drinker especially in the afternoon, but I have to say it was definitely one of the best traditional liquors I’ve tasted.
One of the four. Each one tasted as good as it looked.
Simply having a pleasant day with this group.
We probably haven’t even covered a quarter of Mungyeongsaejae yet when it was already time for us to leave.  The view while we were exiting the gate.
Passed by this bridge on the road back.
Still on the road back, I enjoyed watching the crow perched on top of the pole like a king surveying his kingdom.
And this was how the parking area looked like when we got back.

The brief visit to Mungyeong was serendipitous. Had we known how many interesting places there were to explore, we probably would have planned the trip thoroughly. As it was, the few hours spent there left me with indelible memories of a beautiful spring afternoon amidst one of the most unforgettable places I’ve seen. Given the chance to come back, I would make it a point to explore more of the sights I’ve missed. For now, I’m content with the short but fulfilling hours spent there with wonderful people I’m lucky to have as friends and colleagues. As I’ve said here and here, Life is good.

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