▲ Wolpyeong Gallery, one of many locations along the story-telling trail. Photos by Darryl Coote
This article is a continuation of the Wolpyeong story in issue 56. — Ed.
Three years ago, a quiet village known as Wolpyeong started to change through a culture and art project supported by the central government and planned by the Seogwipo cultural organization Cuci (Cultural City Community).
The Wolpyeong Dolbengdi public relations office is not only home to a new Dolbengdi radio and community studio, but is also the first location on the Wolpyeong story-telling trail.
Starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, the trail snakes through the village giving visitors an inside look while they listen to stories from the village senior chief Ko Song Gil about some of its important sites. The proud chief says that he enjoys hosting the trail program because it gives him the opportunity to boast about his hometown. He believes the trail will become a major regional tourist attraction.
The first stop on the guided tour is a large warehouse for lily flowers. Fifty-four caricatures of villagers can be seen on the outer wall. The wall is called Wolypyeong Gallery, and the pieces were painted by artist Kim Su Jeong, who was living in Wolpyeong as a part of the the Art in Home project by Cuci. According to a Seogwipo City Hall officer, the building changes into an art hall every October for the Wolpyeong festival.
Next, the tour passes a 100-year-old traditional thatched-roof house, one of only a few left in the village that is still inhabited. In addition to the thatched roof, which is covered with a net to prevent it from being blown away, the dwelling has a well filled with spring water and contains a Tongsi, a Jeju traditional toilet. Made from stone, the rare traditional toilet has been preserved, and Ko explained that historically this unique toilet was built above where pigs were raised. The pigs would then eat the human waste. He added that the villagers are thinking of buying two pigs to be raised here in the traditional way!
▲ Wolpyeong village chief Oh Kyoung Sik (left) with senior village chief Ko Song Gil. Photos by Darryl Coote
The trail then heads to Awaenangmok (“Awae” is a Japanese coral tree and “nang” means tree in the Jeju dialect) which is a rest area surrounded by both pine and awae trees. Ko said that this village has a crescent-shaped hill, and people believed that this geographical feature brings the villagers good luck. He said to prevent the good luck from escaping to the sea, people in the past had planted awae trees where the hill ends close to the sea. However, there were now only a few awae trees left after many were felled for road construction in the 1880s and pine trees had been planted in their place.
Other sites covered on the trail are the Songi Gallery at a rest area near a bus stop, and Wolpyeong port, among others.
Art director and Cuci manager Moon Ju Hyun, who is in charge of the three-year culture and art projects of Wolpyeong, told The Jeju Weekly that the organization intends to build a model for sustainable and self-supporting cultural projects for the Wolpyeong village projects.
Towards this end, Moon added that villagers play a leading role in many of the projects Cuci has organized, including Wolpyeong Dolbengdi radio and the story-telling trail projects. Speaking of the merits of Wolpyeong, she added that “This village has beautiful stone walls and wonderful scenery, [and is a place] where people can ramble.”
“The scenic spots only villagers know and the hidden stories make this place more attractive,” she said.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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