Students from various universities including Yeungnam University, Korea National Sports University, Gwangju Health University, Gwangju University, and Mokpo National University took part in the “2014 National Collegian Island Culture Experience” organized by Mokpo MBC. This was a course that ran for two nights and three days from June 25th to the 27th. I experienced a lot of vivid firsthand experiences like going to a saltern and fishing with a net. In particular, when I was fishing with a net, I sensed the fluttering of the fish on my hands and felt a different feeling. Let’s look into the other experiences and about the island briefly.
For the Island
Definition and History of the Island
In English, island is a compound word. “Is” means water and “land” means the word itself. So, island implicates “land surrounded by water.” It has two meanings; oceanic and land characteristics. The word island is used as a stepping stone of communication and sometimes as a representation of the isolated so it implies a dual meaning.
If you look at Korea, islands were considered a bridge of communication during the Goryeo dynasty. That was the era of the ocean. But, marine activity was restricted during the Choseon Dynast, so the islands were perceived as a symbol of isolation. Therefore, we know islands include the trend of the times with rich history.
Value of the Islands
International Legal Value
Islands will greatly contribute to the territory expansion of our country, territorial sea, and airspace. Even a small island can broaden our territorial sea surrounding it. The airspace over the territorial sea and island also becomes part of the country. A long time ago, the importance of the island has not been looked at closely. But in recent years, several countries have been fighting for rights to islands. Therefore, islands have become more and more important and marine resources have been explored. Now, the importance of islands is recognized to the ordinary people.
The beauty and other features of the island can be used as a tourism resource. If so, island residents can enjoy the job creations as well as economic benefits.
Many mudflats can be found on islands made by the tide currents. The mudflat is a repository of ecosystems and has a purifying effect. Many organisms have coexisted in the mudflat. Besides the many mudflats, the island itself is a repository of natural ecosystem.
Valuable Elements on the Island
The island is surrounded by four bodies of water. The island residents experienced many difficulties in the past because drinking water was insufficient. Modern technology has been developed to solve the problems caused by insufficient drinking water.
On the islands, roads are necessary to trade with other villages, due to the difficultly of trading materials.
Electricity is important. If there is no electricity, it is not possible to have a convenient life.
The Purpose of Cultural Events on the Islands
The purpose of the event is that participants revitalize the Jindo Province island’s atmosphere which fell into despair due to the Sewol Ferry disaster. In addition, the events are organized in order for the college students to understand that the culture and tradition have been handed down to the island. Another reason is to have the opportunity for student to broaden their thinking through the experience so that they wake up and recognize the importance of islands as a valuable national land.
Mokpo Station and Ohdo Dock
It took about 4 hours to the Mokpo bus terminal from Daegu. I had to stay at the hotel after arriving in advance the day before. Since I suffered through the night by being bitten by mosquitoes, I was exhausted. Riding on the tour bus, I looked around and I noticed that there was an awkward atmosphere on the bus. In the bus, there were officials from MBC and college students from nationwide. The tourist bus which arrived at the Songgong dock from Mokpo Station took about 30 minutes. I boarded ferry No.3, and it was strange to see the sight a tourist bus was also loaded.
After the ship departed, a middle aged woman sitting in a chair, while handing out some snacks, welcomed me. I asked her, “Why are you so kind to me?”
She said, “Because, I had a sudden flash of memory of my son. So I give my snack to you.”
Since I left early in the morning, I was not able to have any meals, so I was very grateful to this woman. After the conversation was finished, I met the MBC VJ. The MBC VJ interviewed me by asking how I felt about participating in the event. I stammered due to some tension. Then, we arrived at Ohdo dock after about 30 minutes.
After lunch, we headed to the saltern in the Palgeum by bus. Representative of the saltern gave an explanation on how their product was produced and how it occupied important positions in the Shinan district.
Kang Bong-ryong, who is a professor in Mokpo National University and Department of History, said Korean solar salt including ingredients such as calcium, potassium and magnesium minerals higher than French products but the price is less than France's price. He said that if the manufacturer raised the price of Korean solar salt to match France’s, it can be comparable to about 70% of the sales revenue of the rice produced in the Jeolla-do.
I experienced firsthand how to gather salt. Using long pieces of wheat I dispersed the water and the salt came into view. When I slid a lot of water, the salt piled up as soon as the water disappeared. After the salt piled up, I had to push to the end by dividing the salt in half, sliding it to the end, the salt was placed separately in a red bag.
At the others saltern, the salt is gathered by pouring in into wagons and then poured into a warehouse. However, this saltern that we took part in, used the same red bags. A representative of the saltern said that they plan to prevent contamination during the production process.
According to the program, we went to a deep mudflat. Nearby, we watched a grandmother who uses a short half-moon hoe near the mud flat. We were unable to participate because the deep boots were not ready. The grandmother picked oysters and she gave us an opportunity to eat fresh-caught fish to us. After, a grandfather came from the distance and detached small octopuses and gave to students one by one. The small octopuses have a considerably high value at the market. The grandfather gave the octopuses to the students without any hesitation. In addition, he invited us to eat other fish dishes at his house, but we could not accept because we were running out of program time.
We experienced riding at a sandy and vacant area surrounded by small mountains. I felt the horse was very tired. I thought it was due to the hot weather and many people riding the horse. I felt I connected with the horse that felt nature. This helped me feel deeply the experiences offered on the island.
Fish Seining and Clams Digging Out
Seining means to catch seafood from a shallow water using a stretched wide net. While seining, I experienced a very large fish hit to me. It was an exciting and amazing experience. After we reached a sandy beach, I saw fish in the net. There were a lot of fishes like shrimps and mullet that were captured.
The other experience of finding white clams is when low tide comes, after the seining. Looking into mud flat, it was not easy to find clams, so I needed much patience.
A synonym of cromlech is dolmen. This dolmen was also present in the island. The guide gave an explanation to us by saying a hierarchical society also existed on the island. There was also a stone which one used to be able to fish when the tide came in near the dolmen.
Kim Hwan-ki Birthplace
We visited to the birthplace of Kim Hwan-ki called the Picasso of Korea in Ahnjwa Island.
There was a yard and in the front was stretches of mountains. I thought that he was able to get a good energy from the mountain, if his pictures were painted here. The birthplace of Kim Hwan-ki is the tile-roofed house which is rarely present on the island.
We fished from the Angel’s Bridge where you can enjoy the scenery of Ahnjwa Island. Angel Bridge was constructed as a wooden plank. The guide told us the origin of the word “Angel.” Shinan district consists of about 1004 islands, so it is called the Bridge of Angels (Korean read angel word by “chunsa.” Chunsa is same pronunciation to 1004). The vast sea stretched under the bridge.
After I’ve done the cultural experience of the island hosted by Mokpo MBC, I had sad feelings because I was not able to experience drawing on a mural and octopus fishing. This was in the original schedule. However, other schedules have been well-organized, so it was possible to feel the culture of the island. Once we have the experience to come and go directly to the island, there is a cultural value of the islands. I began to realize its beauty. Why don’t you try to experience directly instead of just reading about it?