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30 August 2004
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Korea Life Blog - JongnoGuru Weekend

I hung out this weekend with my friend known in certain prestigious circles as JongnoGuru. He has two homes in Pyeong Chan Dong, a nice suburban area which is right next to Gwang Hwa Mun, just 5-10 minutes by automobile.

Though the bigger of his two homes was an investment and needs some work, the one he lives in now is very nice. I did a poor job photographing the house itself. I'm not sure he would want his house posted all over my sight anyway and he can do that later when he gets his own site up and going. Instead, I took some decent shots of the scenery and the surrounding area. Unfortunately it wasn't a sunny day and my batteries were almost dying, but take a look anyway:

These photos were taken from JongnoGuru's roof. The pictures don't really do the scenery justice. Sure, it still looks nice, but it must look even better on a sunny autumn day.

Yes, some people in Korea still live in houses. With a few exceptions, most people in this area live in them. From what JongnoGuru tells me and Julie as well, some of the richest people in Korea live here including Korean movie stars and foreign diplomats.

You may recognize these mountains behind his place. You can see them from Gwang Hwa Mun. JongnoGuru said Pyeong Chang Dong is the path the North Koreans took during the failed assassination of South Korean President, Park Chun Hee, in 1968. The "Blue House" - Korea's White House is located just over the hills on the other side of The "JongnoGuru House." The 30 NKA army men infiltrated the border (guarded by the US) and made there way through the forested mountains and then were spotted by a woodcutter, whom incredibly was let go. South Korean security forces were alerted and the unit was stopped not far from Park's house. In all, 28 North Koreans were killed, 2 escaped and one was captured alive. In case you don't know, that's the assassination attempt that led to a counter plan to kill Kim Il Sung which became the focus of the movie Silmido. Of course, the attempt was never carried out.

JongnoGuru is the only person I've ever met in Korea who owns a yard, though others do in this area as well. His neighbors used to have a yard but they built an addition to the house to get rid of it. I have a lot of respect for Jognroguru. He's worked very hard to make it to where he is and in a few more years he will control a vast and mighty empire. Perhaps even run for office here. (Click on the photo to supersize this charming photo.)

Not the best shot of me here but I'll leave it in anyway to give you an idea of the magnificent scenery in the area.

He's pointing to this bunch of temples in the distance. As I said, beyond them is the Blue House so there's a lot of armed guards in the hills back there. Lately they haven't had much action, but not long ago a wild boar was on the loose and the guards chased it down and shot it to death. I wasn't surprised so much that they shot it, more by the fact there was a wild animal still around in the first place. Hard to believe this was a land of wild tigers at one time. Now there's very little wildlife left in the country beyond birds and squirrels.

Korean roofs are usually flat like this and they make a great place to hang out. You could have a nice barbecue up here, but after a few drinks you'd better take it downstairs. Not to safe with no railing.

Later we had pizza and sat out on the open patio, drank a few cold beers, talked a lot and looked at this nice scenery. It got to late to take the last subway home so the guru and his girlfriend suggested I stay there, which I did.

The next day JongnoGuru got out the spare *scooter for me (what a nice guy to keep one on hand for his guests!) and we zipped through the hills all day passing by all the rich people's homes. We didn't stop often and my batteries were pretty much gone by this time but it was a great time. This is a shot from a temple atop one of the hills. If you look very closely up to the right, almost directly under the mountain peak, you can see a house which JongnoGuru calls the "Jules Verne" house as it looks like some kind of deep see vessel. We took a ride over there and the house is obviously expensive but gaudy and to me, an eye-sore. In the driveway: a BMW, Mercedes, Lexus SUV, and an Audi, all shiny and brand new. Also a couple of big dogs to scare people away.

*I just thought of something and I should have gotten a picture...I wonder if people who have never been here are imaging us riding through the hills on a scooter like this. (click) Well, in Korea a scooter, or auto bike as they sometimes call them, looks like this (click).

Just one of many temples hidden away in the hills around Pyeong Chan Dong. This was the last stop. There was a free spring water tap here and a mean looking ajushi greedily filled at least 10 large bottles and then a huge plastic barrel.

Well, that's it for now. I had a great time and will be going back soon with Julie. I can't wait to get her on one of the scooters. Thanks JongnoGuru!


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