Heart and Seoul: South Korea’s Gwiyeoun Green Grass

Heart and Seoul: South Korea’s Gwiyeoun Green Grass
Korea has been having its international moment thanks to K-Pop’s popularity and a certain group of Oscar-winning films. But whether you knew it or not, Seoul has always been soulful. Here, creative neighbourhoods full of vintage stores meet sprawling natural spaces, and tiny tea houses are tucked away behind vast forests, sheltering a rich history that really has to be perceived to be believed.


Seoul Mates: City Sights

Greem Cafe And Baek Heena’s Drawing Rooms

After picking up a local data sim and stocking up on won, it’s advisable to reset and relax into some K-pop cafe culture. This cafe’s owner and sole proprietor, J.S. Lee, was inspired by pop culture – specifically, a Korean cartoon. The show in question is W, a web cartoon fantasy about a man caught between real life and, you guessed it, a web cartoon. While the show only lasted 16 episodes, Lee’s cafe, though still young, seems to have staying power. That’s partly due to its online muse, as the cafe is designed to be as Instagrammable as possible.

Affectionately known as the ‘Drawing Cafe’, the pastel pastries and frothed milk topping the ‘2D’ cups adds a pop of colour to this stark, pencil-and-paper landscape; highlighting new dimensions of reality with its flattening affect. Visitors are warned to take care, however, lest they walk through the cartoon door and find themselves stuck in their own multidimensional web series.

On a similar note, this month’s special exhibition at the Hangaram Design Museum featured Korean picture book artist Baek Heena. Her first solo exhibition truly brought her vivid worlds to life, allowing you to experience the wonder of magic through her figurines and miniature set designs. Baek, who has won multiple awards, including the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2020 (the highest international honour in children’s literature) captivates readers with her amusing and imaginative storytelling about every day life.

Visitors can observe Tong Tong’s house from “Magic Candies” from different perspectives, rather than seeing it solely from the veranda, as in the book; And an exquisite scale model of the apartment from “Moon Pops” (2010) is showcased, standing at the height of an average adult. Each small house in the building is equipped with a camera, allowing visitors to view the interior through a screen.


Animal Antics: Botica Exotica

Since the first pet cafe opened in Taiwan nearly two decades ago the craze has spread, leaving paw prints across the globe. With double the population density of New York City, most Seoul urbanites live in high-rise apartments, which usually do not allow pets. That’s why classic dog cafes such as the Bong Brothers in Gangnam were born. They don’t charge admission fees but you will be asked to purchase a drink, which isn’t hard when they offer affogato, sweet potato lattes and a variety of snacks. The only thing missing is the Bongs.

As Seoul’s only parrot cafe, Wanggwan House (which translates as chirp, chirp) is the perfect alternative for bird brains. Among the species in residence are cockatiels, cockatoos, African grey and a blue and yellow macaw, along with a few finches. Admission is ₩5,000 (£3.25) and the owner is a parrot breeder, so if you’re looking to purchase one as a pet, you can try before you buy.

When Blind Alley owner, Han Song-hee, rescued the cafe’s resident raccoons, they were pups. Not wanting to leave them alone at home while she worked, Han brought them along to the cafe. A capybara (giant rodent), adopted from a zoo has joined them since. The cafe is divided into two areas: the cafe and the raccoon room, which you can visit after buying a drink or paying an admission fee. You can feed them from the palm of your hand but make sure you follow the rules, or you could end up with a nasty bite. As the sign outside reads “No children. Our racoons are old. Sleep all day. Racoon no play with you.”

One of the most unusual animal cafes Seoul has to offer is Meerkat Friends, home to more than a dozen meerkats. When it opened, it also housed a genet (a cross between a lemur and a mongoose), a wallaby, Arctic fox, Snow Bengal cat and a few mischievous raccoons, which also used to be free to roam about. It’s now been scaled back to include 3 meerkat pens, and a couple of free-range dogs and cats. I’m sure that in a few years, the meerkats will disappear and be released back to where they belong. So while I enjoyed this guilty pleasure, hopefully it won’t be here for long.


Connoisseurs Of Coffee Hanyakbang

A popular hidden gem. You might not think to squeeze down a narrow, unmarked alley to find the right cup of coffee, but Coffee Hanyakbang in the Euljiro area of Seoul, is knowingly tucked out of sight.

It’s claim to fame amongst coffee connoisseurs is its delicious single-origin, hand-drip blends sold at decent prices. The beans are roasted by hand in the back corner of the café and are ground on site, producing a fresh aroma that warmly greets you upon entry. The baristas, all dressed neatly in white, treat their work like a science, honing in on every pour to produce the optimal cup. A quiet delight at a measured distance away from the hustle and bustle.

For a truly hidden gem, I recommend the LidArt café which is rarely busy and routinely random – serving coffee with a variety of whiskies, amidst some sparkling light and sound installations. I also liked the Doochae ceramic bakery and their signature Corn Coffee.


Wongaksa Pagoda: Sarira Incarnation

“We used to look up and wonder about our role in the cosmos, now we look down and worry about our place in the dirt”. Interstellar was a great choice on the flight over. This pagoda was once the central feature of a Buddhist temple that no longer exists. Unlike China and Japan, fewer pagodas were reportedly built here, and often out of stone as opposed to wood.

The pagoda was constructed in 1467 as a part of Wongaksa Temple, which King Sejo had established two years earlier on the site of an older temple. An inscription on the upper part of the pagoda states it was built in the 13th year of the king’s reign, and represents the earthly sarira incarnation.

The temple was closed and turned into a kisaeng house, then the site was turned into government offices. The pagoda and a memorial stele commemorating the foundation of Wongaksa were the sole surviving structures, but even they had a close call in the 16th century during the Imjin War.

In 1897, the financial advisor to King Gojong, was authorised to turn the area into Seoul’s first public park, now known as Tapgol Patk. In 1962, the pagoda was designated a National Treasure of Korea. This title acknowledges an object’s value as either a tangible treasure, artefact, site, or building which is recognised by the government as having exceptional artistic, cultural and historical value to the country, which explains why it’s partially hidden behind a large glass construction case.

The pedestal supporting the pagoda is three-tiered. The first three stories follow the shape of the base and the next seven stories are squares. The pagoda is richly engraved, with images of dragons, lions, phoenixes, lotus blossoms, and religious icons including Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and the Four Heavenly Kings.

The pagoda was carved to look as if it was made from wood despite being constructed from marble. The use of marble is in itself unusual, as most Korean pagodas are made of granite. Despite its lofty-sounding title, the pagoda seems to be generally uncrowded, even though it is in a free public park.


Seoul Night Markets

With many night markets open until 5am, you’ll have no problem stocking up on souvenirs or items you forgot to pack whatever the eternal time of day. A Korean night market, or bamdokkaebi, consists of two words: bam (night) and dokkaebi (goblin); A phrase that translates to “goblin that comes out at night and disappears by morning.”

Dongdaemun, for example, is relatively barren during the day, and people mostly come to see the art installations; but at night, it turns into a shopping mecca. People come to Seoul night markets to do two things: shop or eat. But wandering through the streets also offers various sights, like buskers, candlelight rallies, historical temples with cultural performances, or the occasional filming of a K-Drama.

While many of the items offered are wholesale, there’s really no point in haggling unless you speak Korean, and there’s undoubtedly a ‘fuck you’ attitude towards foreigners looking for a bargain – expect to be charged a premium. Koreans evaluate their customers using four rules: nunchi (intuition and emotional intelligence), gibun (mood and feelings), jeong (unspoken bonds), and chaemyeon (face or reputation). If your natural charm allows you all four, you may enjoy some discounts, gifts, coupons, and extra samples in night markets and beyond. Moreover, it’s best to haggle at traditional markets rather than shopping malls and other places with posted prices, but there are some department stores that let you bargain.


Spa Lei Overnight Baths

Jjimjilbang is the Korean overnight spa where for a small entrance fee (usually around £12) you have unlimited access to multiple floors of public baths, saunas, treatments, restaurant, cafes and sleeping rooms. My favourite was the women’s Spa Lei in Gangnam.

For some unknown reason the staff are often found in lacy black lingerie, but for visitors – bathing suits are prohibited, and expect to be told off for attempting to wear one / not tying your hair up / clearly being a hapa or gyopo. If you’re feeling brave, you can offer yourself up for a body scrub, which will ensure an entirely new layer of skin.

The restaurant food is often even better than many of the surrounding establishments, and as a snack – Korean sauna eggs have a uniquely nutty flavour. It’s also one of the few places you’ll be able to get fresh Yam and Ginseng smoothies, in a distinctly communal yet peacefully private space.


Ihwa Mural Village

Naksan in Seoul is home to one of the most popular mountainside mural villages in Korea. Ihwa Mural Village (이화동벽화마을) is known as a moon village or “daldongne” as it’s set on the hillside – so be prepared for a minor hike. This was a short walk from my hotel at Mayplace Dongdaemun, located next to Changdeokgung Palace.

The Ihwa Mural Village was once set for destruction as it was seen as a bit of a slum and down-trodden area, but in 2006 under the “Art in City Project” carried out by The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, murals were added in an effort to revitalise the neighbourhood.

The revitalisation has come at a cost though. Beautiful murals in varying sizes placed on walls, fences and rooftops were created by 70 artists and certainly brought loads of tourists to the area, however, no one really asked the residents, mostly elderly Korean citizens, if they were okay with this, or explained what the murals might bring.

This is a similar story with what is going on in the Bukchon Hanok Village one of the most visited ‘traditional’ neighbourhoods in the city, and the residents aren’t all that happy with the influx. However I did stumble across an elderly resident who had opened up his garden with ‘all free’ tea and coffee. Thanks to technology, we had a little exchange on Google Translate and Papago App.

Probably one of the strangest sights in the Ihwa is the Live Well Academy and Memorial at the top of the hill.  A man called Park Soon-Yi rented a public school classroom under the name of Live Well Academy, and began to gather and teach underprivileged youths. It is now a Memorial Hall where you can read the timeline of his project. However if you decide to visit this place, do not forget to sign the visitors board, as he still loves to see who comes, and where from.


Changdeokgung Palace (Of Virtue)

Changdeokgung (The Palace of Prospering Virtue), also known as Changdeokgung Palace, is set within a large park in Jongno District. It is one of the “Five Grand Palaces” built by the kings of the Joseon dynasty (1392–1897). As it is located east of Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeokgung – along with Changgyeonggung – is also referred to as the “East Palace” (동궐東闕Donggwol). It was named as such, as a kingdom was said to be unable to flourish without the virtuous practices of its rulers, if such a paradox exists.

Changdeokgung was the most favored palace of many Joseon kings and retained many elements dating from the Three Kingdoms of Korea period that were not incorporated into the more contemporary Gyeongbokgung. One such element is the fact that the buildings of Changdeokgung blend with the natural topography of the site, instead of imposing themselves upon it. Like the other Five Grand Palaces in Seoul, it was heavily damaged during the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910–1945), which saw it temporarily converted into a zoo.


Itaewon Leeum Museum and Bonguensa Temple

Leeum, Samsung Museum Of Art is a beautiful museum that focuses on traditional and modern works of art from local and international creators. The museum and its galleries, some of the most esteemed in all of Korea, opened in 2004.

This month’s exhibition was Kim Beom’s How To Be A Rock, which opened with a video of an Antelope chasing a Cheetah, and featured many insightful inversions such as canvases with words describing scenery, a jolly yellow portrait that had been painted while screaming, and a papier-mâché Moon Jar illustrated with biro. My favourite was the classroom of “objects that are taught they are nothing but tools” and the “rock that was taught it is a bird.”

A short cab ride away you can also visit the Bonguensa Temple with its magnificent 28 meter (91 foot) stone statue of Maitreya, the Future Buddha. This statue is one of the tallest stone statues in the country. The temple dates back to 794 located south of the Han River and is just north of the Starfield COEX Mall in Gangnam-gu.

During the Joseon Dynasty, the government oppressed Buddhism and supported Confucianism. With the help of Queen Munjeong and Monk Bo-wu, Buddhism was revived in Korea. Around 1550 Bongeunsa was expanded and became the head monastery of the national Jogye Seon Order. It was the main Korean Buddhist Zen temple from 1551 to 1936.

The oldest remaining building is a library that was constructed in 1856. The library contains Flower Garland Sutra woodblock carvings and 3,479 Buddhist scriptures including the works of Kim Jeong-hee. Today, Bongeunsa Temple is a pleasant, interesting, and peaceful retreat. Before the 1960s, the temple grounds were surrounded only by the countryside farms and orchards. Since then, the area has become the center of one of the wealthiest and busiest places in Seoul, making Bongeunsa Temple a rather interesting mix.


Korean Stone Art Museum

The Korean Stone Art Museum was opened in Seongbuk-dong, a town surrounded by the Bugaksan Mountain and the Seoul City Wall. Ancient-stone artefacts, traditional embroideries, and modern Korean paintings are gathered here, along with a garden containing a treasure trail of symbolism. The museum’s mission statement reads that it wishes to provide a modern interpretation of the philosophy and wisdom of its ancestors, creating a participation-oriented display.

En route to the museum are a couple of hill-top temples with lovely city views. And if you fancy an even greater hike, you can visit Seunggasa Temple – a Buddhist relic tucked away in the middle of the Bukhansan National Park. You can trek to this place from the bottom, or use a vehicle to drive up to the top.



Beyond Seoul: Temple Tripping

Tapsa Temple’s Hermit Heaven

The difference between nurturing a singular artistic vision and obsessive insanity can be thin. Straddling the line is Buddhist hermit Yi Gap Yong. He created over 120 stone pagodas below the Horse Ear Mountains in South Korea. And he did so without any tools, mortar or a little help from his friends.

Yong came to the area to meditate in 1885 when he was only 25 years old. When he first arrived, it was a tranquil landscape, but it was not yet a temple, and he was not yet an ordained monk. A lack of formal training did little to slow his progress, and over the next 30 years he carved the pagodas while living with nature.

Yong died in 1957, at nearly 100 years old! Today, over 80 of the pagodas remain and have been preserved for tourists. A white statue near the temple depicts the creator of the complex, Yi Gap Yong, so that he can watch over his labour of love for as long as it lasts.


The Vantablack Hyundai Pavilion

The Hyundai Pavillion stands like a ‘schism in space.’ Designed for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, it is covered in Vantablack – a material that absorbs 99.965% of light, acting like a black hole amidst the vast winter scenery.

Vantablack was originally developed for satellite-borne blackbody calibration systems, but its unique properties have attracted widespread interest from various fields including the arts. In February 2018, Asif Khan and his London-based architecture firm unveiled this Pavillion. Studded with thousands of pinprick points of light, the otherwise blackest-of-black exterior is like a vision into the depths of outer space.

The ‘stars’ are on rods, all set at different depths, creating a three dimensional vision of space in which the universe seems to move as you walk past. The interior is a stark, bright white throughout, featuring a water installation with droplets running through channels carved into the floor.

Each droplet represents the hydrogen formed at the beginning of the universe, and contained within the stars spread along the building’s surface. On a more prosaic and commercial level, the whole thing is actually a reference to Hyundai’s latest venture into the world of fuel cell-powered vehicles.


Heyri Art Valley, Paju-Si

Located 6km from the DMZ, this village is still a tourist trap, but an interesting alternative should you be looking for something other than a tour of the commercialised war zone. Among the many buildings in the community there are over 50 galleries, museums, cafes and restaurants supporting over 500 artists including sculptors, actors, painters, writers, and photographers.

As would be expected from a town built by and for artists, each structure is built in a unique and striking architectural style, from the building meant to look like chocolate to the environmentally forward structure with tree branches growing right through the walls. This ethos of constant creation and collaboration exists throughout every aspect of the colony down to the street lights which are dim and sparse, reasoning, “How else can you enjoy the stars?”

A short walk from the village is the Paju Folk Museum, as well as a Unification Zone, and a variety of local restaurants offering generous Hot Pot breakfasts. Some visitors also come to see the nearby Book City – a town filled with book cafes, libraries and a forest of wisdom, as well as the host of outlet stores.

Another great shout in Seoul is Gaeseong Mandu Koong for some North Korean Dumplings. Established in 1970 by an elderly Gaeseong native, this restaurant has been serving Gaeseong-style dumplings for three generations. The dumplings here are large, plump and filled with a generous amount of shredded napa cabbage and mung bean sprouts. The soup broth is made with beef brisket, and the owners prepare the dumplings by hand daily with the freshest ingredients in a traditional Korean hanok setting that is both charming and elegant.


Jeju’s Matriarchal Mermaids

Some of the small fishing islands off the south coast have flipped the script on patriarchy thanks to the Haenyeo. Otherwise known as the Jeju Mermaids, these pioneering (and largely elderly) fisherwomen are the head of their family units. Focused around the island of Jeju, but with an influence that has spread to some of the surrounding islands, the trend that has seen women in the region take the place of the men as providers is believed to have begun as a way of getting around taxes…

At one point, males would be highly taxed even on meagre fishing hauls, but in a loophole that spoke volumes to women’s place in society at the time, females were not taxed at all. This being the case, families began having women do the fishing, hauling in catches of shellfish, octopus, seaweed, and abalone.

As the trend continued, islands such as Jeju saw their family units flip power structures almost completely as they free dove for sea life in the icy East China Sea. The tradition has survived for hundreds of years, but now the Haenyeo are in danger of disappearing as more and more of their daughters are choosing life in bigger mainland cities.

Today the main Mermaid population consists of elderly women over the age of 50, who still go out and dive as deep as 60 feet (without a breathing apparatus) to collect their family’s main source of income. There is a Haenyeo museum in Jeju-si, as well as a number of statues and art pieces on the island devoted to the mer-matriarchs, so with luck, even as their numbers dwindle, their powerful legacy will not.


Moon Hoon’s Rock It Suda

Kim Jae Il had a dream that one day, on the rocky hills of Jeongseon – song, design and rock n roll would meld together in sisterhood. It was a vision which Korean architect Moon Hoon turned into a reality at Rock It Suda.

Before Rock it Suda became an architectural icon, it was the name of an amateur rock band from Seoul – a band whose bass player asked Hoon to come up with a design for some weekend homes; spaces in which urban dwellers could liberate themselves from the fuzz of the city; where weekends would run into rivers, flowing through time and design, amidst a stunning landscape infused with the band’s binaural beats.

Moon set to work creating a cluster of pensions (the Korean term for a weekend house) and the Rock It Suda estates was born. Each of the six dreamlike hideaways is based on a single inspiration, respectively named Spain, Barbie, Stealth, Ferrari, Cave, and Tradition. The interior of each is designed like a futuristic daydream, with odd angular protrusions covering every surface.

Complete with jacuzzis and of course, a stage for live music, after the Rock It Suda was completed the band would spend each weekend jamming for guests. However as time went on, their appearances dwindled, and now it’s simply a shock of colourful chaos in the midst of a mountain range.


Life Is But A Dreamy Camera Cafe

Located in a sleepy village on the outskirts of Seoul, the Dreamy Camera Cafe allows its customers to crawl inside a giant camera and peer through the other side of its lens. Built by a former pilot and avid camera collector, the cafe towers over the owner’s next door house. Inside there are two floors of cozy coffee consumption, with decor that is dominated by vintage cameras ranging from miniature toys to real antique contraptions.

Each floor has a large bay window that together, from the exterior, makes up the dual lenses of the Rolleiflex camera the building is modelled after. No detail is left untouched, with film negatives splayed across each table as surreal scenes develop, and even the toilet paper resembles film reel.

While the first floor of the cafe is devoted to a sort of camera museum, the second floor is home to a small gallery of photography, where patrons are welcome to submit their own work. Or they can simply enjoy the rather amazing, uninterrupted views, using their own eyes.



A few people I met recommended a visit to Jeonju-si, a small city in Western SK. It’s known for the Jeonju Hanok Heritage Village, an area of traditional houses, craft shops and food stalls. In the village, the 15th-century Gyeonggijeon Shrine has portraits of former kings, and the Jeonju Korean Traditional Wine Museum demonstrates the making of local rice wines. For nature lovers, Omokdae and Imokdae are centuries-old hilltop pavilions with sweeping skyline views.


Daewonsa Dragon Temple

Daewonsa Temple isn’t like the other temples dotting South Korea’s countryside, or nestled within city walls. To enter its lower hall, you must first be swallowed by a dragon – along a body that twists roughly 330 feet through the trees and bushes.

The reptilian beast represents good fortune, spiritual clarity, and is a protector of the temples. Its long, winding hallway is filled with statues and artwork that re-tell the story of the Buddha, so your journey through the bowels of the beast is actually an enlightening experience.

Eventually you’ll pass a meditation area featuring dozens of little golden replicas, before finding a door that leads to the lower ground. The main temple is as stunning as the gaze of the basilisk: with the backdrop of the mountains and its soft silence echoing through this unique experience. What’s even better is that this temple doesn’t seem to be hugely popular with tourists, ensuring peace of mind.


Jeju Loveland Karma Sutra

Jeju Loveland was created in 2004 by 20 artists who graduated from Honglk University in Seoul. The exhibition halls that house the gift shop and gallery of the park are modelled after traditional Korean architecture, but very little else is of a ‘traditional’ nature here.

Bulkkeuni (a phallus wearing yellow mittens) and Saekkeuni (a vagina with a floppy hat and bow), are the park’s mascots – ushering in visitors through the front gates. The restrooms adhere to the theme as well: a handful of breasts on the men’s door, and an erect penis as a door knob for women.

The garden contains around 140 sculptures representing a variety of creative karma sutra. After the Korean War, the island became a popular honeymoon destination for couples, mainly due to its warm climate. It has also earned a reputation as a centre for sex education. Visitors are required to be at least 18 years old.


Oedo Botania’s Botanical Island

A number of small islands surround the southern coast of South Korea, but few compare to the unique natural beauty of Oedo Botanica, a former bit of barren rock that has been wholly transformed into a diverse botanical garden.

In 1969, a man named Lee Chang-ho took shelter from a squall in the lee of Oedo – a tiny heap of rocks sticking out of the green waters of Hallyeohaesang National Park. Lee saw potential in the rocky little spot, and in that same year, moved his family to the island. At first they tried to harvest tangerines and raise pigs, but neither took to the land, so they thought about regenerating the whole area.

After getting approval in 1976, Lee and his wife started growing what would eventually become a stunning botanical garden island. Completely transfigured into a little slice of paradise, its flower-covered hills and perfumed landscapes are popular with vacationers from around the world.

Accessible by ferry from the nearby port of Gujora, it continues to be hailed for its picturesque statuary, hiking paths, scenic vistas of nearby Geoje Island, and thousands upon thousands of species of lush plant varieties. Not a bad place to take port in a storm.


Haesindang Phallic Park

In Haeshindang Park, dozens of sculpted phalluses stand erect in defiance of an old folk curse. The collection ranges from hanging arrangements to three-meter-tall trunks of wood, sculpted by Korean artists, showcasing everything joy, spirituality, and sexuality. The small Folk Museum attached is dedicated to phallic-related art throughout the ages, as well as the history of the small fishing community.

Despite its Comedic value, the legend of Haeshindang Park is rooted in a Tragedy. A young couple, madly in love and soon to be wed, were brutally split apart when the high-tide claimed the bride in full view of her fiancé, who was left ashore. The next day, the number of fish caught dwindled. The following day, they dried up. The townspeople were said to be cursed and wondered what to do, that is, until a local fisherman relieved himself in the sea. The fish returned and men of the town took note. Thus, statues were constructed and placed in view of the scene.


Suncheon Castle: Japanese Ruins of Busan

In the late 16th century Japanese Samurai lords, daimyos, built several castle-like fortresses in Busan during an ambitious plan to conquer Joseon Korea and Ming China. The Koreans, with the later help of the Ming emperor, used guerrilla tactics and flame-throwing armoured turtle ships to expel the Japanese from the peninsula. The fortresses, however, remained.

Several of the 400-year-old castle ruins can be still be seen around the southeast of Korea. They are mostly ivy and root-tangled walls with grassy baileys situated in peaceful green parks. But these ruins were once the site of some of bloody battles between Korean, Chinese, and Japanese forces.

The Japanese invasion of Korea, or Imjin War, began in the spring of 1592 when samurai warriors and several thousand soldiers landed on Korean shores and laid siege to the city of Busan. Samurai scaled the walls of the Busanjin garrison under the cover of arquebus fire and overran the Korean defences. After the Korean defeat, the Japanese, led by daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi, erected a network of Japanese-style fortresses to prepare for an assault on China.

But Japan would not make it all the way to Beijing. Korean national hero admiral Yi Sun Sin harassed and weakened the Japanese resupply line with turtle ships, armoured battleships with dragon-head bows that could shoot fire and cannon balls. On land, the Korean righteous army fought guerrilla warfare against the Japanese. The Ming emperor Wanli sent an army to stop the invaders as they reached and conquered Pyongyang, the modern-day capital of North Korea.

The Japanese finally retreated back to Japan in 1598. History would repeat itself in 1910 when Japan invaded Korea and later Chinese Manchuria, unleashing events that would split the Korean peninsula in two and affect the world as we know it today.