By KELLY WHITE
Tucked back into the Dongnae’s mazes of alleys, apartments, and shops of all shapes and sizes is an archaeological treasure of pretty enormous proportions—the Beokcheondong Gobung Ancient tombs, a collection of over twenty burial sites from the Gaya kingdoms. In the immediate vicinity of the tombs, there are also museums, a fortress, some pretty cool monuments, and a whole day’s worth of interesting history and culture—definitely a reason to skip Haeundae or Gwangali and spend a day in Dongnae.
The Beokcheondong Gobung tombs have their own museum, and it is probably the best place to start your tour of the area. The exhibition halls contain artifacts from the excavation of the tombs and a wealth of information about life during the Gaya period of Korean history. For the less historically inclined, the kids’ section of the museum also features a dress up exhibit with pretty freakin’ awesome crowns and warrior costumes.
After the museum, stroll over the land bridge and view the tombs themselves. The burial sites are located on a hilltop that overlooks the city but feels surprisingly rural. It’s really a gorgeous place for an afternoon walk or a picnic lunch. There is a little observation building built in the middle of the area that allows you to walk inside and see a couple of excavated tombs and the artifacts that have been recovered.
Come back to the museum and head up the hill to your left to see Dongnae Eupseong Fortress, a restored fortress wall and facility that was the site of a Japanese invasion. During the Dongnae Festival in October, a group of actors puts on a highly choreographed reenactment of the Japanese invasion and subsequent conquest complete with dances and elaborate musical numbers.
From the fortress, there are several well maintained trails you can take to further explore the area. One leads to this amazing monument that was built to honor the March 1st Independence Movement. It’s a pretty cool piece of art located right in the middle of the city.
So, if you have a free Saturday this spring, I highly recommend checking out the Dongnae Eupseong-ji area. Even better, keep an eye out for the yearly Dongnae festival occurring each fall, and visit then. The entire area becomes an explosion of colors, music, dancing, delicious food, and celebration.
Getting There: From Dongnae Station, Exit 2, walk straight for a few blocks. Turn left at the Baskin Robbins/Blacksmith intersection. Continue to a large intersection where you will turn right toward the Bokcheon Museum. Turn left on Bokcheon-ro at the Boksandong Community Service Center. Head up the hill to the museum. The entire walk takes about twenty minutes.