Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Haesindang Park...aka Penis Park

When I was in high school I asked my Biology II AP teacher if the plural of penis was penises or peni. He was a cool guy who was pushing 70 if not already there, and so let us get away with a lot because he was past the retirement age, and thus didn't seem to care so much. He told me, after a little smile, that it was penises because the word is Latin, not Greek. I'm still disappointed because I think peni is much more fun to say, but alas, not proper English.

Yesterday I went on a journey to Heasindang Park. Now, first let me note that Korean culture is very conservative. Couples don't do any more than hold hands, and that's been a development in the last few of years. Women just started wearing tank tops last year, and those are more like shirts without sleeves - no spaghetti straps or anything. (Although the booty short is apparently okay for some reason...perhaps the knee high boots counters it?) That makes this park so much more interesting.

Legend has it (paraphrased from the handout I got at the park) that there was this beautiful virgin girl that liked to gather seaweed on a rock called Aebawi in the sea. One day her fiance took her out to the rock so she could collect some seaweed, and came back to the village. When he went to get her later, a storm had come and he couldn't get out to sea, and she drowned (statue of him calling to her and her on the faraway rock on the right). After that, the village couldn't fish worth a damn and blamed it on the lady being (justifiably) pissed, so they had a bright idea to appease her spirit by erecting -snicker- wooden phalluses to console her bitter soul. After they did, viola, the fishing became good again, and so they continue, to this day, to offer phalluses on the first full moon of the lunar year.

And thus we have a park full of wooden penises. In the middle of Korea, of all places.

So there are a lot more pictures, which you can look at over at Flickr. They're pretty interesting. It ended up being an all day adventure to get there though. Cheri, Sarah, her two friends visiting from the States, and I met up at 7am to get on the subway, arriving at the bus terminal a little after 8. Then we hopped on the bus to Samcheok and three hours later got off...at the wrong stop. It was supposed to be an express bus, meaning it didn't stop anywhere else, and everyone else got off there too. So we waited for an hour and got on the next bus for the 20 minutes to the right place (picture of us leaving the wrong station on the left). Then we opted to pay for a taxi instead of wait the hour for the city bus to the park...Sarah sat on my lap and the taxi driver pointed out several times that there isn't supposed to be five people in a taxi (it was a $25 fare, we weren't taking 2 taxis), arriving at the park at 2pm. Then after we saw the sights we froze to death at the bus stop for about ten minutes. The bus must have been running really late, because it came an hour earlier than it should have. This got us back in town with ten minutes to spare for the next bus to Seoul, and we then caught the subway home and got back to Sanbon at about 10:30pm.

It was a bit long of a trip for what it was, but it was fun and now I've seen the Sea of Japan (or the East Sea, according to Koreans. They don't like Japan so much). I'm saddest at the fact that the gift shop isn't open in the winter, because you all would be getting penis souvenirs.
Today we're taking a break to recuperate, but tomorrow we're going to the folk village. It won't be as visually entertaining as the pictures from this trip, but it looks like it's a pretty good cultural learning experience, and we all know how big of a nerd I am. :)

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