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Gunsan and the Jeonju International Film Festival

"A Beautiful Change of the World through Cinema" ~ Jeonju Festival

sunny 23 °C

On a Friday afternoon after school, I jump on a bus and head to Gunsan. Gunsan is located on the west coast of the Korean peninsula. It was once a very small fishing village on the banks of the Geum River, but today it boasts a population of approximately 280 000. This is a very small town compared to the 120 000 people alone who live in Jung-gu district, which is my area, and the more than 2.7 million people who reside in Incheon.

As Gunsan is located near very fertile ground, a lot of rice is harvested here. Gunsan grew due to the port established here in the 19th century to the export the large amounts of rice harvested. Gunsan is a very industrialised town and its economy thrives on fishing, agriculture and the heavy industry The factories for GM Korea and Tata Daewoo are located in Gunsan. Gunsan is also home to the newly opened Saemangum Seawall, which is the largest dyke in the world at the moment. It stretches for 33 kilometers (500ms longer than the Asluitdijk dyke in the Netherlands) to create a 400 square kilometer area of reclaimed farmland and a freshwater reservoir. It has been an issue of many environmental protests.

I went here to visit my friend, Lizelle, who lives in Gunsan. She is a fellow South African and I met her during our EPIK orientation at the beginning of my contract. We are also planning to visit the Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF) which is on this weekend.

The bus to Gunsan leaves from Incheon Express Bus Terminal. It takes about 3 hours on a bus that smells less than fresh. It also never ceases to amaze me how Koreans can sleep anywhere and anytime. They will also not wake up for anything. The girl next to me is almost falling on my lap, but she won't wake up. This happens a lot on the trains as well. Amazingly they always wake up just before they need to get off the train.

I arrive at about 10pm and we head down to the so-called Bar Street or Susong-Ro for a few drinks and dinner. We have beer, fruit and chicken. Koreans love to eat fruit when they are drinking. I find it to be a very strange habit, but Korean fruit is very delicious as they import it from tropical countries such as the Philippines. In this street we also see a lot of US pilots as the US Army Air Base is located in Gunsan. Gunsan has that small town feel. The buildings aren't as tall, cars and people generally seem to be less, and the air is fresher.

1. Fruit and Beer -- all finished

2. Some Gunsan

The next day we head out to Jeonju. It is located 30 minutes inland from Gunsan by bus. The bus is overbooked and all the way back I am sitting on the step at the back, right above the engine. I am burning up during this ride as the heat from the engine is making the floor almost unbearably hot.

We finaly arrive and it is extremely hot and busy. JIFF has been held here in Jeonju since 2000 and it focuses mainly on independent and art films. We didn't book for any films, but did eventually get tickets to see Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji. It is a black and white, Japanese film from 1955. The movie was quite funny even though most of the cast dies in the end. During the day we had some lunch, did a little shopping and just explored Jeonju. We took the last bus back to Gunsan after dinner that evening and this time we had some seats.

3. Some Jeonju Festival

After a good night's sleep, I get on a bus again and head home to Incheon. It was a good weekend.

Posted by Anja Fourie 16:41 Archived in South Korea Tagged south_korea film_festival gunsan jiff jeonju jeonju_international_film_festi air_base pilots Comments (0)

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