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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Countryside (시골)

Ah, the sweet countryside beckons.  Its villages and meandering lanes humbly escort us to the past.  If we listen to its whispers, we may also hear stories about our future.  Not surprisingly, Daegu’s countryside has melted in all directions. Once, the walls of Dalsung Park marked the city’s edge. Yeungnam University, built in the countryside in 1947, once a long, tedious bus ride east from the city center, is now just another Daegu subway stop.

Yesterday's countryside: thatched roofs, mud walls, and clear streams

In the 1960’s and 70’s, developing the countryside was a key strategy of then president, Park Chung-hee. His New Village Movement (새마을운동) spread the values of diligence, self-help and cooperation. It was intended to establish an entrepreneurial spirit in Korea’s rural communities.

The countryside still calls those few who listen

Thatched roofs, mud walls, clear streams, and the hard calloused hands of the Korean farmers, have given way to paved roads and the faster pace of a wireless world. Between cities and the ribbons of highways that wrap this peninsula ever so tightly, one may still find the Korean countryside of days gone by.  The old white crane, standing with dignity in the distant rice field, knows the secrets of Korea’s past.  The romantic lure of the countryside still calls those few who will listen.

*Note: this post was originally written for Platform Daegu, the city's new on-line magazine

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