From Jeongseon through Samcheok to Pyeongchang
Time to remember winter â Jeongseon
I went to Gangwon Province because I wanted to remember the winter that would soon wither away. The mountains and the sea, where the afterglow of man had escaped, were gripping the end of winter. The remote valley and the raging waves were buzzing like recalling the winter that had passed. I took a close look at each scene as if I were listening and pressing it firmly into my heart. Three winter scenes that I wanted to take out and look into on a heart-wrenching day due to a fever were gathered.
Text, photo by Park Eun-gyeong
Grandma's briquette hand and Jeongseon Samtan Art Mine
As I prepared to leave Gangwon Province, I thought of an old thing I had forgotten. As a child, I spent about five days of winter vacation at my grandmother's house in the countryside. My grandmother made sure to boil water in the oil stove and wash it clean when she came in while playing outside to make her face feel itchy. Then I ate dinner, watched TV, and sang a song, and unknowingly fell asleep. Once upon a time, I woke up from a cold while sleeping and was surprised that my grandmother wasn't next to me. When I opened the door, my grandmother had just put down her briquette tongs and was coughing. The back of my grandmother's hand was covered with ash when she stroked her head saying, âWhy did my dog come out when it was cold.â
I missed my grandmother's hand, which I could never hold again. Even when I tried to retrieve other memories, the briquettes kept flickering. So I headed to Jeongseon, Gangwon-do. The foot of a mountain 850 meters above sea level in Gohan-eup. There was Samcheok Tanjwa Jeongam Mining Co., Ltd., which used to blow black coal powder. People called it Samtan for short. It was once a huge mine where 3,000 miners were mining coal 24 hours a day. I wanted to feel the feeling of Grandma going to a briquette fire while sleeping at night in the traces of Tanbu, who was walking in and out of the camp for her children.
Samcheok Tanjwa was closed in 2001 when the coal industry went into production. After being neglected, it was reborn in 2013 as Samtan Art Mine, a cultural and artistic space. The name Samtan Art Mine is a combination of Samtan, short for Samcheok Tanza, the art of art (art) of art and mine (mine), which means mine.
Samtan Artmine introduced art while leaving the intense life of a miner untouched. In addition to the coal mine, the train rails used to carry coal and the compressor room that supplied air to the coal mine were exhibited as they were. The building used as an office building houses exhibition rooms, an art museum, and an artist's studio. The repair shop, which used to repair equipment and machinery, was transformed into a restaurant.
First, I walked into the four-story art center building. I wanted to look into the difficult lives of miners. After passing through the lobby and going down to the 3rd floor, I found the Samtan Museum library. The bookshelves were filled with documents such as pay slips, security journals, and accident records. On the opposite side, equipment and tools used by the miners themselves were displayed. I couldn't take my eyes off the safety helmet with the black bullet left on it and the oxygen mask on my hands so vivid.
There was a shower room on the 2nd floor, and a washroom for washing boots on the first floor. I felt overwhelmed because it was a place where miners who were fighting the fear of death breathed a sigh of relief and washed away their dark sweat. Wedding dresses from the 1960s that were borrowed by actual miner wives were displayed along with lights at Sehwa.
This time, I followed the stairs to the Rail by Museum. It was a shipyard where all the coal from Samcheok Tanjwa was collected. From here, the miners descended to 600 meters underground at a time to collect coal, then picked up the coal they had collected and carried it on a miner (car carrying coal).
With black coal powder all over, it was like a scene from a black and white movie. The carriages (carriages that miners used to ride) and minecars stood where they had stopped when the mine was closed, and the steel structure and rails of the huge vertical shaft also remained as if time had stopped. Nevertheless, this old gray space was more desolate and tasteful than dull. I felt more moved by the hardships of life than from the cool fear. âGloomy Sunday,â which comes out repeatedly from the speakers, and the three fine red flowers blooming on the rails added to the atmosphere. In the midst of endless depression, a strange beauty oozed out, and I couldn't leave my seat for a while.
Leaving the Rail by Museum behind, I walked through the Garden of Memories. It was a space to commemorate and remember the sacrificed miners. There were several works of art, including âThe Miner Digging for Coal,â and the snowy ridges surrounding them sparkled white. As the wind blew and blew, I could hear the sighs of those who had lost their friends and families somewhere in that valley. The words of thanks and best regards were also not left out. I closed my eyes for a moment and thought of my grandmother. The pure white snow was shining even whiter.
Address 1445-44 Hambaeksan-ro, Gohan-ri, Gohan-eup, Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon-do Telephone 033-591-3001 Opening hours 10:00 to 17:00 (9:30 to 17:30 on weekends and holidays) Closed every Monday, admission fee is 13,000 won for adults, 12,000 won for middle and high school students, 11,000 won for elementary school students and those over 65