Also see my post "Naju's Gates."
Since the Galbijim Wiki is down for the forseeable future, I'm going to do a few small profiles of places in Jeollanam-do. I don't want to put all my eggs in the Galbijim basket, especially if it's prone to disappearing without any warning. Anyway, the first entry will be about Naju.
Naju is the smallest of the five cities in Jeollanam-do. I actually considered applying for a job in a foreign languge high school there in spring 2007---a job Christopher Neil also expressed interest in---but I figured a normal public school position would have less aggravation. There is a nice little park near the bus terminal, and there are two large gates and a few other historical sites. But Naju doesn't have other amenities you'd expect in a "city." Aside from the few historical remnants, which can be seen in an afternoon, the best thing about Naju is that it's 25 minutes from Gwangju.
In my opinion, the two most interesting sites in Naju are two large gates that were once part of Najueupseong, a wall that was built around the city before the Imjin War. Dongmun (동문, east gate) is a few blocks from the bus terminal. When you exit the bus terminal, turn right and walk for a few minutes. The two-story gate will be visible pretty quickly. It originally dated to the mid-1450s, but according to the placard out front the original gate was destroyed in 1912. You can go up to the second story and look out onto the parking lot and abandoned buildings. *cough*
The front of East Gate.
The other surviving gate is Namgomun (남고문), about 10-15 minutes away on foot. If you exit the bus terminal and turn left, you'll quickly come to an intersection with a large thoroughfare. Look to the left and you'll see Namgomun at the end of the street.
Next to Dongmun is Namsan Park, which has a few exercise areas and some statues and pavillions. There were some nice-looking cherry blossoms there in the spring.
(top) Dongmun (동문) from Namsan Park; (bottom) Exercise equipment from The Flintstones.
I guess if you ask a Korean, they'll say "Naju is famous for pears." Then again, every county, city, town, village, and street corner in Korea is "패머스" for something or other. Anyway, there's a pear museum in Naju, although all the displays are in Korean. To get there, take bus 180 from the terminal. Each spring there's a Naju Pear Blossom Festival (나주배꽃축제) in and around the museum, although it's pretty lame. There are maybe two dozen tents with snacks and souvineers, and you can walk through some of the neighboring orchards. If you're already in the area, then go, but don't make the trip especially for it.
(top) The pear fields that surround the museum are pleasant; (bottom) A pear at rest.
In eastern Naju is a part of town called Yeongsanpo (영산포). I've searched around the internet in Korean and I've found very little information about it, but I'm going to assume it was once a separate town. Based on the little information in English, and on the fact that there were factories, a lighthouse, a train station, and a larger population than now, I'm led to believe it was a fairly active port (one site refered to it as a gateway to Gwangju, but I don't know how reliable that is). I've asked a few foreigners, who work there, if they live in Naju, and they have said "No, I work in Yeongsanpo," but I don't think Canadians know any better. Anyway, the bus from Gangjin to Gwangju stopped in Yeongsanpo, so I've passed through it countless times. There's really not much to write home about, although it does have a few examples of Japanese colonial architecture, which might interest some. There is also a market next to the bus terminal, and there was a train station, 영산포역, in operation until the 90s (I think), and which is still there if I'm not mistaken. According to some blogs I've seen, I guess they intend to turn the station into a park/museum, although I haven't heard any news on that. (Based on this blog entry, I don't know if you'd really want to visit it nowadays.) Anyway, below are some pictures and profiles that I stole from the official Naju site. Except for the ligthhouse, I've never seen any of these things, and I don't know how to get there. The website does, however, say that they're all within a few minutes from the Yeongsanpo Bus Terminal.
The Yeongsanpo Lighthouse dates to 1915, and is considered to be the only inland lighthouse in Korea. Buses from Yeongsanpo to Gwangju pass it on that bridge.
Old Main Street. I'd be interested to see this.
Heukju House. Home of a Japanese landowner, I guess.
There are other minor historical and tourist sites in Naju, including a bunch of tombs and Naju Lake. There are some sites that were in and around the old Najueupseong, the wall around the city. You can visit them on foot using the information provided here.
Something else that might be of interest is the Samhanji Theme Park (삼한지테마파크), used as a filming location for the popular MBC drama Jumong. Koreans of all ages seem to like this show, although I find the facial hair amusing. Anyway, the set looks interesting, and I'll probably visit it in December. To get there, according to Tour2Korea, take a bus bound for Gonsan-myeon from the terminal in Yeongsanpo. It (supposedly) comes every 15 minutes. Then take a taxi to the park. The park is open from 9 to 6--closed during filming--and has an entrance fee of 3,000 won for adults. Pricey. There's a profile on Jumong and its filming locations here, and a Naver image search for 삼한지테마파크 is here.
Images of Samhanji Theme Park, stolen from Tour2Korea (what a clusterfuck of a site that is).
Oh! And I forgot that there's a new waterpark(-type thing) that opened this past year. It's called Jungheung Gold Spa and Resort (중흥골드스파&리저트) and it looks all right. There are a few water-related rides including a wave pool and a "lazy river." The website is here, though you need an ID to make reservations. It doesn't look half-bad. And, according to the pop-up that just arrived, they have the Doctor Fish treatment at the spa (by which fish eat the dead skin from your body).
EDIT: omigod, I can't believe I forgot to mention this. Also in Naju is the "Our Lady of Naju" phenomenon. It is a statue of the Virgin Mary that is reported to have wept blood daily from 1985 to 1992. The miracle first appeared to Julia Kim, a beauty salon owner. There have been other miracles reported since that time. The chapel is located in Gyo-dong, though I haven't been able to find the name. There are pilgrammages several times each year, corresponding to Christian holidays and observances. The official site has some information and details about pilgrammages, as does the Galbijim Wiki page, which is currently not operational. One interesting tidbit is that a doctor examined the blood and determined that Mary had Type B blood, so there you go.
* Official Naju site (in English)
* Self-guided tours, from the Naju site.
* My shitty Naju gallery on flickr.
* There are a few Korean blogs on Yeongsanpo: here for old buildings, and here for Yeongsanpo Station, circa 2006.