My Essay on Cultural Assets
Feel the Vivid History of Ganghwado Island
As the saying goes “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” or “Travel makes a man wise,” travel makes people wise and intellectual. Especially for children, travel is the best private-lesson. It is an opportunity for children to build independence and meet new worlds.
In that sense, Ganghwado Island, a museum without a roof can be the best place for a trip with children.
Chojijin, a fortress which keeps a painful history
Passing through a narrow gate, visitors can have a beautiful scene of sea around Incheon in Chojijin Fortress. But it has kept painful history of battles against foreign arms: Siniyangyo, Byeonginyangyo, and Japanese ship, Unyang. The fortress reminds us of sad and painful memories – our soldiers who should fight against the robust and well-armed foreign forces with far inferior weapons. It feels as if our ancestors, who peeped out through the holes on wall and were shocked by the appearance of enormous foreign fleets, were standing nearby.
A big pine tree beside the fortress and white marks on the wall are evidence of shelling by foreign war ships.
Inside the fortress, there is a canon called Hongipo. Compared to current artillery, it looks like a toy. Though it is just 2.5 meters long, it was the biggest cannon in the late Joseon Dynasty. That clearly represents the inferiority of our military power.
Anyway children will be amazed by the scenes that they can only see in textbooks.
Deokjinjin Fortress, a strategic point of the Ganghwa channel
Along with Chojijin, Deokjijin Fortress is a key point in the Ganghwa channel. All foreign fleets that approach Hanyang, then-capital, must pass though this area. Especially, the fortress vividly remembers the two invasions: Byunginyangyo, a battle against French Admiral Rose’s Far East Fleet which attacked us for the persecution of the Catholic in 1866 (the 3rd years of King Gojong) and Sinmiyangyo, a military threat by the U.S. Asian Fleets of Admiral Rogers for trade opening in the 8th year of King Gojong.
The fortress is said to have been the most powerful. During Byeonginyangyo, Admiral Yang Heon-su and his troops moved through this fortress and beat out the French army who occupied Jeongjok mountain fortress.
Despite their brave fight, the fortress was conquered by the U.S. marines in Sinmiyangyo. An old picture showing a flying American flag on Deokjinjin Fortress makes visitors bitter.
Namjangpodae (a battery) can be a natural fort, which has a shape of the half-moon where they can attack the enemy without being seen by them.
Deokjndondae and Deokpopodae were fierce battlefields against the U.S. navy during Sinmiyangyo. An idea of countless foreign warships in front of Incheon feels badly about the peaceful sea.
In front of Deokjindondae, there is Anti-foreign Stele erected by the order of Heungseon Daewongun. It shows his strong will not to allow foreign vessels to pass through his country, Joseon. The inscribed wordings of “Close and protect the sea gates. Foreign vessels must be prohibited” well represents his foreign diplomacy.
Gwangseongbo Fortress, a warm corner of Sinmiyangyo
It was a fierce battlefield during Sinmiyangyo, Admiral Rogers’ U.S. Asian Fleets' campaign against Joseon in 1871. Mainly due to far inferior weapons, all warriors fought to the death except the wounded.
According to a literature of U.S. military, our ancestors chose to fight to the death against the urge of surrender. It runs like “Joseon warriors fought to the death fearlessly like tigers. The battle was definitely a victory for us. But none of us was proud of the victory and didn’t like to remember it.”
Ssangchungbigak (twin monument house) was built by General Eo jae-yeon and Eo jae-sun’s clan to pay tribute to them. Every April 24th of the lunar calendar, they do ancestral service for their royalty. On a way to dondae, there are the tombs of anonymous warriors.
Thanks to the ancestors who fought for their lives, we have become what we are today.
Ganghwa Dolmens (Jiseokmyo), the World Cultural Heritage
Dolmen is one of the pre-historic relics called “Megalith Culture,” structure made with natural or man-made stones. Megalith Culture means a culture in which humans built structures with natural or man-made stones for worship or tombs, and generally refers to monuments belong to pre-historic era or megalith tombs. Though the dolmens show the difference in shape and usage in regions, but they have something in common that they are shown in settled society based on agriculture.
In Ganghwa-gun, there are about 160 dolmens. Among them, 70 are registered as the World Cultural Heritage.
Jiseokmyo in Bugeun-ri, Ganghwa is a colony of 14 tombs, which is a typical type of tombs of the Bronze era (Historical Site. No. 137)
The site is equipped with walkway which takes 20 to 30 minutes. Visitors can hear the song of Ganghwa Dolmen. It is a good place to walk with children and study the history.
The history of Incheon is the beginning of Korean history. Manisan Mountain Chamseongdan Altar
At the top of Manisan Mountain is said a place where Dangun built an altar and offered sacrifices to the heaven. Dangun, the founder of Korea, established Gojoseon and did a service to the heaven here.
In fact, it is a location where rites for Dangun were performed.In Goryeo and Joseon Dynasty, national ceremonies for ancestors were held.
On the occasion of lighting the Flame of the National Sports Festival, the service was revived. Every October 3rd, National Foundation Day, the service is held under the name of “Gaechundaeje.” We can say the history of Incheon begins with the opening of our country.
All the history of Ganghwa gathers at Ganghwa History Museum
All historic sites and stories are gathered under the roof of Ganghwa History Museum. It is a perfect place to ruminate the history tour of Ganghwa with children.
On the roads of Ganghwa where the history is still being alive, children can have their new dreams.