The Candlelight Revolution in Gwanghwamun Square

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It was almost noon as I slowly descended alley after alley of Bukchon Hanok Village. Stepping between traditional Korean buildings seemed to throw me back in time, a time when Joseon Dynasty was enjoying its golden era.

A few moments later, my steps were parallel to Bukchon-ro Avenue section. I casually walked enjoying cool midday air of Seoul while occasionally stopping in several winter jacket sellers. But its price, which was still above 125,000 Won, made me reluctant to stop any longer.

I quickened my pace when the face of Anguk Station could be seen far ahead. But a few steps later, I slowed down my steps, my ears could barely hear Indonesian language from a small shop, four Indonesian travelers were enjoying a dish of Chimaek (a dish of fried chicken mixed with South Korean beer). Their joking fun made me reluctant to greet them but I was able to confirm that they were from the same nation as me.

Entering Anguk Station, I headed straight for the platform. Catching the Seoul Metro to get to Sejongno area immediately. Seoul Metro arrived just moments after I reached the platform.

The Dog…Oops…..

Entering a carriage, I couldn’t hide my chuckle. “Oh, No……”, this Seoul Metro was similar to the old Jakarta’s Commuter “Very funny …”, there were a seller screaming explaining goods they was selling.

That was not enough… there were men quickly walked through carriage after carriage to simply slip business cards between doors, carriage poles and whatever places to put it were possible. “Ohh my God…”, I was even lowering my face I still couldn’t hide my amusement.

That funny moments was closed with another funny scene where train officer combed the carriage to take all business cards which were tucked away before I got off in Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station.

Now, I was changing to Seoul Metro Line 5 to get to final destination of Gwanghwamun Station. Not passing another station, so I quickly arrived at Gwanghwanum Square.

Impatiently stepping the escalator, I tried to get as fast as I could to surface. Arriving at the exit I could only stand frozen, staring at a statue of a legendary South Korean fighter. It was a statue of Admiral Yi Sun-sin who proudly stood with a sword grip in his right hand and a suit of armor which covered almost his entire body.

Admiral Yi Sun-sin himself was a Joseon Dynasty era warrior who with his 12 fleet of warships fought Japanese invasion in 23 major battles at sea.

Meanwhile, Gwanghwanum Square used to be one of the most famous royal squares because several royal government buildings were placed around this square.

However, my arrival seemed to coincide with a large demonstration that was remembered as The Candlelight Revolution, a popular protest against corruption scandal which carried out by the President of South Korea, Park Geun-hye.

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Beberapa tenda demonstran masih tampak tersisa di kiri kanan sisi patung Laksamana Yi Sun-sin. Tetapi itu semua tidak mengurangi rasa antusiasku untuk menikmati Gwanghwamun Square.

Bukchon Hanok Village: The First Destination in Seoul

“Kamsahanida……”, I loudly said to a female cashier in CU Minimarket in that corner. I have finished in eating packaged white rice and cup noodles which made my lips feel hot because of its spiciness.

“Cheonmanneyo …”, that beautiful white cashier smiled while waving when I was in front of glass door and reached its handle.

Coming out of minimarket, I quickly walked towards the gate of Hongik University Station which wasn’t far away, just to left of a bend ahead.

Descending a long escalator swooping down underground, I began to open my own printed plan, then pointed to a point of destination. “I have to go to Anguk Station,” I thought as I folded my plan sheet and put it in my back pocket.

Then I was in platform. By noon, situation in underground station was deserted. Suddenly, a street romance show at the end of platform faded my enthusiasm for waiting for Seoul Metro arrival. A pair of lovebirds seemed to be hugging each other’s waist while looking at each other affectionately. Every now and then that man kissed his girl…. “Oh God….”, my envy feeling appeared. Shows like that really didn’t surprise me because I’ve often saw them in same transportation mode belonging to Singapore or Shenzen city. “Think of it as a travel bonus …”, I thought while wryly smiling.

Their intimate embrace was released for a moment after the sound of Seoul Metro could be heard when coming from right aisle. Seoul Metro softly squeaked and stopped in front of them, they ended their romance and I as the lone that romance viewer also boarded the train.

Seoul Metro Line 2 was pushing away from Seodaemun District heading east. I would travel to Jongno District which was eight stations away and had to change to Seoul Metro Line 3 at Euljiro 3(sam)-ga Station and it would take about 30 minutes.

According to the estimated time, I was now standing in front of Seoul Metro door when the announcer sound said that the train would soon be arrived Anguk Station. After a perfect stop, I jumped out of the carriage which I was already on it since several minutes ago, nothing else memorable after the romance for about half an hour ago.

Exiting Anguk Station, I was faced with Yulgok-ro Avenue. Confidently taking a step to the left led me to an intersection which was bustling with fashion, culinary and cosmetic outlets. Looked like I went to the wrong way.

I stood rooted to a side of Enso monument which was located right in a side of intersection. Enso itself is a traditional calligraphy brush native to South Korea. I observed the behavior of local people who were busy shopping. Meanwhile, several groups of tourists from Europe seemed to be conversing in Tourist Information booth which was located next to the monument. Looked like I had to go to the booth and asked for directions to my destination. I finally walked over to it.

Me: “Hello, Ms. Can I know which way that I need to choose toward Bukchon Hanok Village?”

Her: “Hi, Sir. You can go straight there and then turn left in crossroad. You will arrive in Bukchon Hanok Village with walking about 600 meters”.

Me: “Very clear, thank you, Ms”

Her: “You are welcome. And this tourism map is for you”, she smiled as she handed me a Seoul tourism map.

I immediately headed north. Relaxing a bit while enjoying the bustling streets of Bukchon-ro, I finally arrived at Bukchon Hanok Village in 20 minutes. That cultural village was located in west of the main road.

Notre Dame Education Center in Bukchon Hanok Village.

To my surprise, this was different from Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan which I visited a few days ago. Bukchon Hanok Village featured rows of Hanok (traditional South Korean houses) which were neatly arranged along the contour of pedestrian path. The wood which was part of Hanok building looked shiny and well maintained, the alleys which could only be passed by walking looked neat and clean. This was the residence of Joseon Dynasty-era nobles which were more than six centuries old and were the pride of Jongno District.

In accordance with its nickname as the “North Village”, this village was indeed located to the north of two main icons of Seoul, i.e Cheonggye River and Jongno District.

In addition to functioning as a Hanok preservation, this village also functions as a cultural center, traditional inns, restaurants and a place to drink tea together.

Walking through the interior of village, several female tourists looked elegant in Hanbok (South Korean clothing) in order to walking through this cultural village more solemnly.

A beauty that was stored in Gahoe area, I finally managed to come to it. A classic impression, serenity, silence, full of meaning and cultural majesty I felt very strongly during this visit.

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The Candlelight Revolution di Gwanghwamun Square

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Hampir tengah hari ketika aku perlahan menuruni gang demi gang Bukchon Hanok Village. Melangkah di sela-sela bangunan tradisional asli Korea seolah melemparku ke masa lalu, masa dimana Dinasti Joseon sedang menikmati era keemasannya.

Beberapa saat kemudian, langkahku sudah menyejajari ruas Bukchon-ro Avenue. Aku melangkah santai menikmati sejuknya udara tengah hari Seoul sembari sesekali berhenti di beberapa spot penjual winter jacket. Tetapi harganya yang masih saja di atas 125.000 Won membuatku urung untuk berhenti lebih lama.

Aku mempercepat langkah ketika muka Stasiun Anguk lamat terpantau jauh di hadapan.  Tetapi beberapa langkah kemudian, aku melambatkan ayunan langkah, sayup telingaku mendengar Bahasa Indonesia dari sebuah kedai mungil, empat pelancong Indonesia sedang asyik menikmati hidangan Chimaek (sajian ayam goreng berpadu bir khas Korea Selatan).  Keseruan senda gurau mereka membuatku enggan menyapanya tetapi aku sudah bisa memastikan bahwa mereka berasal dari bangsa yang sama denganku.

Memasuki Stasiun Anguk, aku langsung menuju platform. Mengejar Seoul Metro untuk segera menuju daerah Sejongno. Seoul Metro tiba hanya beberapa saat setelah aku mencapai platform.

Si Anjing…..Ehh…Ups….Duh.

Memasuki sebuah gerbong, aku tak bisa menyembunyikan tawa kecil. “Oh, tidak……”, Seoul Metro ini mirip KRL Jabodetabek masa lalu. “Gileee men….”, ada penjual yang teriak-teriak menjelaskan barang yang dijulanya.

Itu belum cukup……Seseorang dengan cepat berjalan menyisir gerbong demi gerbong untuk sekedar menyelipkan kartu nama di beberapa sela pintu, tiang gerbong dan selipan apapun yang memungkinkan. “Buseettttt dahhh….”, menundukkan muka pun aku masih tak bisa menyembunyikan kegelian itu.

Kejadian itu pun ditutup dengan adegan lucu lainnya dimana petugas kereta menyisiri gerbong untuk mengambil semua kartu nama yang terselip dimana-mana sebelum aku turun di Stasiun Jongno 3(sam)-ga.

Aku kini berpindah ke Seoul Metro Line 5 untuk menuju tujuan akhir Stasiun Gwanghwamun. Tak berselang dengan stasiun lain, maka aku dengan cepat tiba di Gwanghwanum Square.

Menaiki escalator dengan tidak sabaran, aku berusaha secepat mungkin munuju permukaan. Sesampai di pintu keluar aku hanya bisa berdiri terpaku, menatap sebuah patung seorang petarung legendaris Korea Selatan. Adalah patung Laksamana Yi Sun-sin yang berdiri gagah dengan genggaman pedang di tangan kanan dan baju zirah yang menutupi hampir seluruh tubuhnya.

Laksamana Yi Sun-sin sendiri adalah pejuang era Dinasti Joseon yang dengan 12 armada kapal perangnya melawan invasi Jepang dalam 23 pertempuran besar di lautan.

Sedangkan Gwanghwanum Square dulunya adalah salah satu alun-alun kerajaan yang sangat terkenal karena beberapa bangunan pemerintahan zaman kerajaan ditempatkan di sekitar alun-alun ini.

Hanya saja, kedatanganku tampaknya bertepatan dengan sebuah demonstrasi besar yang dikenang dengan nama The Candlelight Revolution, protes rakyat melawan skandal korupsi yang dilakukan oleh Presiden Korea Selatan, Park Geun-hye.

Kisah Selanjutnya—->

Beberapa tenda demonstran masih tampak tersisa di kiri kanan sisi patung Laksamana Yi Sun-sin. Tetapi itu semua tidak mengurangi rasa antusiasku untuk menikmati Gwanghwamun Square.

Bukchon Hanok Village: Destinasi Pertama di Seoul

<—-Kisah Sebelumnya

Kamsahanida……”, ujarku keras terlontar teruntuk petugas kasir perempuan CU Minimarket di pojok sana. Aku telah rampung menyantap nasi putih kemasan dan cup noodle yang membuat bibirku terasa membara saking pedasnya.

Cheonmanneyo….”, kasir cantik putih itu melempar senyum sembari melambai tangan ketika aku sudah berada di depan pintu kaca hendak menjangkau handlenya.

Keluar dari minimarket, aku melangkah cepat menuju gerbang Stasiun Hongik University yang tak jauh lagi, tepat di sebelah kiri tikungan di depan sana.

Menuruni escalator super panjang menukik menuju bawah tanah, aku mulai membuka denah cetakanku sendiri, lalu menunjuk sebuah titik tujuan. “Aku harus menuju Stasiun Anguk”, batinku berseru sembari melipat denah dan memasukkan ke saku belakang.

Kini aku berada di batas platform. Menjelang siang, suasana stasiun bawah tanah lengang. Tetiba, pertunjukan romansa jalanan di ujung platform sana memudarkan rasa antusiasku dalam menunggu kedatangan Seoul Metro. Sepasang sejoli tampak berpeluk pinggang sembari bertatap mesra. Sesekali sang pria cuek menyosor gadis di depannya….”Buseeet….”, seloroh iriku keluar juga. Pertunjukan seperti itu memang tak membuatku heran karena sudah kerap kujumpai di moda transportasi yang sama milik Negeri Singa atau Kota Shenzen. “Anggap saja sebagai bonus perjalanan…”, batinku tersenyum kecut.

Pelukan mesra mereka terlepas beberapa saat setelah derap suara Seoul Metro terdengar dari lorong kanan. Seoul Metro mendecit lembut dan berhenti di hadapan, mereka mengakhiri romansa dan penonton tunggalnya pun ikut menaiki kereta.  

Seoul Metro Line 2 merangsek meninggalkan Distrik Seodaemun menuju timur. aku akan berwisata ke Distrik Jongno yang berjarak delapan stasiun dan harus berpindah ke Seoul Metro Line 3 di Stasiun Euljiro 3(sam)-ga serta membutuhkan waktu tempuh sekitar 30 menit.

Sesuai perkiraan waktu, kini aku sudah berdiri di depan pintu Seoul Metro ketika announcer sound mengatkan bahwa kereta akan segera merapat ke Stasiun Anguk. Setelah berhenti sempurna, aku melompat meninggalkan gerbong yang sedari menaikinya, tak ada kejadian berkesan lain setelah romansa setengah jam lalu.

Keluar dari Stasiun Anguk, aku dihadapkan pada Yulgok-ro Avenue. Percaya diri mengambil langkah ke kiri mengantarkanku pada sebuah simpang lima yang ramai dengan gerai fashion, kuliner dan kosmestik. Sepertinya aku salah jalan.

Aku berdiri terpaku di sebelah tugu Enso yang berlokasi tepat di salah satu sisi simpang lima tersebut. Enso sendiri adalah kuas kaligrafi tradisional asli Korea Selatan. Mengamati perilaku masyarakat lokal yang sibuk berbelanja. Sementara beberapa kelompok turis asal Eropa tampak sedang bercakap-cakap di gerai Tourist Information yang terletak di samping tugu. Sepertinya aku harus ke gerai itu dan menanyakan arah destinasi yang kutuju. Akhirnya aku melangkah menujunya.

Aku: “Hello, Ms. Can me know which way thet I need to choose toward Bukchon Hanok Village?

Dia: “Hi, Sir. You can go straight there and then turn left in crossroad. You will arrive in Bukchon Hanok Village with walking about 600 meter”.

Aku: “Very clear, thank you, Ms

Dia: “You are welcome. And this tourism map is for you”, dia tersenyum  sembari menyerahkan selembar denah pariwisata Seoul untukku.

Aku pun segera melangkah menuju utara. Sedikit santai sembari menikmati keramaian jalanan Bukchon-ro, akhirnya aku tiba di Bukchon Hanok Village dalam 20 menit. Perkampungan budaya ini berlokasi di sebelah barat jalan utama.

Notre Dame Education Center di Bukchon Hanok Village.

Diluar dugaa, ini berbeda dengan Gamcheon Culture Village di Busan yang kukunjungi beberapa hari lalu. Bukchon Hanok Village menampilkan deretan Hanok (rumah tradisional Korea Selatan) yang tersusun rapi memanjang mengikuti kontur jalan setapak. Kayu-kayu yang menjadi bagian dari bangunan Hanok tampak terawat mengkilap, Gang-gang yang hanya bisa dilalui dengan berjalan kaki nampak rapih dan bersih. Inilah perumahan bangsawan era Dinasti Joseon yang berusia lebih dari enam abad dan menjadi kebanggaan Distrik Jongno.

Sesuai dengan julukannya sebagai “Kampung Utara”, maka desa ini memang terletak di sebelah utara dari dua ikon utama kota Seoul yaitu Sungai Cheonggye dan Distrik Jongno.

Selain berfungsi sebagai pelestarian Hanok, desa ini juga berfungsu sebagai pusat kebudayaan, penginapan tradisional, restoran dan tempat minum teh bersama.

Menyusuri bagian dalam perkampungan, beberapa turis perempuan tampak anggun mengenakan Hanbok (baju khas Korea Selatan) demi menyusuri perkampungan budaya ini dengan lebih khusyu’.

Sebuah keindahan yang tersimpan di daerah Gahoe ini akhirnya berhasil kudatangi juga. Sebuah kesan klasik, ketenangan, kesunyian, sarat makna dan keagungan budaya sangat kental kurasakan dalam kunjungan ini.

Kisah Selanjutnya—->