Dong-Incheon and the discovery of a legendary beast

Alright, this is the other trip I made over the weekend, so this post gets us all caught up on that front. I may have a small summary post of minor stuff that’s happened this week, but in general, everyday I go to Culcom for lessons, I eat lunch with people from Culcom somewhere, or I eat alone at Lottemart and I go to work. During work I will eat 삼각김밥 for dinner if I’m not very hungry, or a lunchbox from Hansot or perhaps bibimbap if I am hungry. After work, I usually eat dried squid and drink about 500 ml of beer while watching an episode of CSI. Then I study for an hour, go to sleep, and then start the process over again in the morning. This pattern is never repetitive or boring, but it isn’t particularly interesting to write about either.

Anyway, Sunday. Me and Hyeon Kyu met up at Bupyeong station as we usually do, this time an hour later than last week. We were both yawning and exhausted before we started, which is par for the course. Originally, I was going to take a class on making Kimchi and he was going to film it for our new venture, but it didn’t work out for this Sunday, so we’re currently working on rescheduling, but it is tough with our schedules. Anyway, on the fly, we decided to head to Dong-Incheon to see some dilapidated buildings and then walk to Chinatown from there. We were both hungry so we decided to eat at Bupyeong at a sushi buffet.

From living in America, I am somewhat skeptical of buffets. They highly a philosophy of “quantity over quality” and frequently to an extreme. They’re usually very low quality and more often than not, they aren’t very clean. That isn’t to say they don’t have their place, but in Korea I’ve eaten some really fantastic meals and I usually walk away full, so a buffet’s positives are kind of moot. However, once I had eaten at a (very expensive) buffet in Japan and it was quite high quality. This was more like that. Higher quality food, and more of an emphasis on variety than on quantity. There was spam sushi, fried fish sushi, some desert rolls with cornflakes on top of them… All the things I have said about Korean sushi before on this post remain completely true in this case. In addition, there was a wide array of delicious foods that were kind of strange to be connected to sushi. You could make a hotpot. There was carbonara. There were fresh litchi. There were takoyaki. Soba. Tteokbokki. Instant coffee. Anyway, it was all delicious and the cost wasn’t bad and the presentation was pretty nice.

After lunch, we hopped on the train and rode to Dong-Incheon. The feel of the Dong-Incheon area is much different than what I’m used to. The buildings are smaller and older. The building aren’t built upward into skyscrapers, but rather layered on top of each other. Like someone threw a bunch of buildings in a pile. Hyeon Kyu explained that the particular area we were in was relatively poor and that the city wanted to gentrify the area, but that a lot graffiti and wall art had been appearing in the area and that the residents were hoping to save the old buildings by making the neighborhood interesting or by attracting tourists.

You’d think they might be pretty successful since they did attract us to come poking around, but we had such a hard time finding anything that I wouldn’t call it a huge draw. In fact, we kept ending up in this one empty field whenever we asked locals for directions. We ended up creeping around narrow alleyways and poking around hoping to find something interesting. We did find a freakin’ robot.

To see more, please continue after the break….

After we spotted the cool robot, we saw several used bookstores. Back home, used bookstores were one of my favorite things in the world, and I was excited to see strange, ancient looking bookstores with piles upon piles of books in them. I thought I would come back some time after I learn more Korean.

Not far from the bookstore was a convenience store that looked very old as well. Hyeon Kyu said that it reminded him of what Busan looked like in the 80’s.

We also saw a pretty strange looking dog. The dog had a fairly clean face, but it’s body was a mess. In my opinion, it looked like a dog wearing some kind of monster costume. Like something out of the Twilight Zone. That episode where the creepy-gremlin-rug monster tried to take down Captain Kirk’s plane.

I generally have a policy to not get too close to random dogs in strange alleyways that happen to look like monsters from Twilight Zone episodes, so the picture is from a distance. But we were surprised by this strange dog. Walking away we discussed the strange attributes of the dog and Hyeon Kyu commented that it reminded him of some kind of mythical beast from China. But we hadn’t seen much wall art. So he pulled out his phone and pulled up the information about this place and showed me some of the pictures. We were looking for a landmark that would at least point us in the right direction. The landmark we found was the Twilight Zone/Mythical Chinese dog in the alley. The dog was in the same spot, in the same position, in the same alley, with the same strange coat and the clean face. We watched it move, so we knew it was really alive. We realized we were in the same place, but just had not stubbled upon the artwork yet. We theorized that perhaps that wasn’t actually a dog and it was some kind of permanent installation. Perhaps we even gazed upon a God without even realizing it.

Eventually we did find some wall art, but not an excessive amount:

The area of Dong-Incheon was quite different compared to the area I live in and it was almost like peering into another world. I actually have more to post about an interesting museum we found in the area, but I’ll save it for a new post since this one is getting a bit long. In the end, we ran out of time and he left for work and I went to meet some friends, so I didn’t get to go to Chinatown this time around. But I’m sure I’ll make it before too long.



~ by James on April 11, 2012.

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