Thursday, August 17, 2017

Falun Gong

In the summer of 1999, after thousands of practitioners had staged a silent protest in Beijing against unfair treatment, the Chinese Party leadership saw the group as a threat to communist rule, declared it as an evil cult, and launched a massive campaign to eliminate Falun Gong in China. Since then thousands of practitioners have been locked up and tortured to death, and people are scared to associate with Falun Gong due to government campaigns and threat tactics.

Falun Gong combines Buddhist with Taoist meditation and exercises; the religio-philosophy follows the principles of truth, benevolence and tolerance as preached by the founder Li Hongzhi, who practitioners refer to as Teacher Li. At the turn of the century there were hundreds and thousands of followers within China. Typically twice a day Falun Gong groups gather to meditate and practice Falun Gong exercises, which are much like the movements of tai chi. After meditations and exercises, they read Teacher Li's book, which is a guide on how to cultivate one's mind and be a good person.

After late July 1999, Falun Gong was declared a cult and an illegal organization and practitioners were summarily ordered not to practice it anymore. At first those caught had to read government propaganda materials and denounce Falun Gong publicly. Then some provincial governments assigned a quota to each local public security bureau or government agency, ordering them to reform Falun Gong members, and if a certain official exceeded the quota, he or she would be awarded a cash prize. More and more practitioners were refusing to denounce their beliefs, and so before the year was out, local police began searching homes for Falun Gong materials and treating each practitioner like a criminal. If a person was caught with "incriminating evidence", then his or her whole family was blamed and punished.
The above information is taken from Liao Yiwu's "The Falun Gong Practitioner", The Corpse Walker: Real-Life Stories, China from the Bottom Up (2008) p. 230-241, a book that had to be smuggled outside of China in order for it to be published.
Eyewitness Recounts Forced Organ Removals From the Falun Gong in China,
from the blog 
The International Coalition Against Human Trafficking


In Korea there are a few Falun Gong practitioners, some undoubtedly refugees from China. Near the gates of Jongmyo Falun Gong practitioners gather to meditate and frequently in Insadong pamphlets are handed out to passersby. I accepted a pamphlet in English after pausing on the sidewalk to look at the signboards of torture that has been inflicted on Falun Gong in China.

The front of the pamphlet reads, "Help end the 11-year-long persecution of Falun Gong".

Q: Why should I care?

A: Chinese communists export state terror. Chinese regime uses political and economic pressure to silence the media and politicians. Chinese regime uses the state-run media to cover up their human atrocities, and spread its propaganda and hate campaign worldwide. We must take action. Each voice counts!

Q: How can I help?

A: Please inform the media and your elected officials. Please help spread the facts of the persecution.

Q: What is the Falun Gong?

A: Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a mind-body practice based on Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance. It was first introduced to the public in 1992 by Mr. Li Hongzhi. By 1999, there were 100,000,000 people practicing Falun Gong inside China alone. Today, it's practiced in over 110 countries around the world.

Falun Gong Exercises and Meditation

  • Good for all ages
  • Relieve stress and anxiety
  • Gain energy and inner strength
  • Improve physical and mental health
  • Attain greater wisdom and spiritual growth

The Teachings of Falun Gong

  • Falun Gong, an introductory book with illustrations of the exercises and explanations of the priniciples.
  • Zhuan Falun, the systematic and comprehensive guide for the Falun Gong practice.
  • Free downloads at

Q: Why the persecution?

A: "Communist Party sources said that the standing committee of the Politburo did not unanimously endorse the crackdown and that President Jiang Zemin alone decided that Falun Gong must be eliminated." John Pomfret, Washington Post, Nov 12, 1999.

The former Chinese Communist dictator Jiang Zemin launched this persecution in July 1999. Why?

  • Jiang was jealous of Falun Gong's popularity -- by 1999, 70-100,000,000 people were practicing in China. This outnumbered the Communist Party membership.
  • Jiang was insecure about his power, and feared losing control over people's minds.
  • The Communist dictatorship could not tolerate any other beliefs. Falun Gong helps people gain higher morality and spiritual growth. Jiang viewed this as the biggest threat to his corrupt regime.

In order to coerce practitioners to give up their belief in Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance, Jiang founded the 610 Office (a gestapo-like organization), and deployed the most extreme tortures in human history: live organ harvesting, brainwashing, physical and mental torture, psychiatric abuse, etc.

At least 3,304 practitioners are confirmed to have died from torture in police custody as of October 1, 2009. The actual death toll well exceeds this.

Live Organ Harvesting Exposed

Vital organs including hearts, kidneys, livers and corneas are systematically harvested from live Falun Gong practitioners and sold and transplanted at enormous profit. Their bodies are cremated on site to destroy the evidence.

"... further investigation has only reinforced our original conclusions that the allegations are true." David Kilgour, former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific region) and David Matas, human rights lawyer and author of Bloody Harvest: Revised Report into Allegations of Organ Harvesting of Falun Gong Practitioners in China.

"I think it is time to put the Chinese Communist regime on trial for genocide. I firmly believe that what we are doing today [unclear what that is] should be carried out in every city of the world and every day until justice is served." Edward McMillian-Scott, Vice-President of the European Parliament, press conference in London.

"Organ harvesting has been inflicted on a large number of unwilling Falun Gong practitioners at a wide variety of locations for the purpose of making available organs for transplant operations." Manfred Nowak, the United Nationals Special Rapporteur on Torture.

"... at least 87,000 Falun Gong practitioners have had their organs harvested by the Chinese Communist regime in these years." Ethan Gutmann, China expert and the author of the book Losing the New China.


And a one-hour documentary on illegal organ harvesting of Falun Gong in China:
Harvested alive -10 years investigation of Force Organ Harvesting.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Plastic Surgery: A JW정원성형외관 Advertisement

Riffling through some old picture files I came across these bizarre plastic surgery pictures. They were taken October 30, 2010 and the advertisements were plastered everywhere in one of the subway lines in Seoul. Now in 2017, plastic surgery has reached epidemic proportions and Korea is one of the plastic surgery capitals of the world. Back in 2010 we could certainly see more advertising for the "crafty" surgical art, but even though a massive amount of people have had plastic surgery, not many want to really admit to it. Interesting that now that plastic surgery is such a part of the Korean society, the advertisements aren't quite so blatant. 

[I have to admit, this is really very clever visualization! Koreans are very inventive with computers, word play, and now plastic surgery ... why not combine all three concepts to make a very clever advertising?!]

Change your life with JW정원성형외관

The before and after pictures -- Before on the left and after to the right. 

Change your eyes:

Change your nose:

Change your body:

Change your facial bone:

Change your breasts:

Change your body:

Change your wrinkles:

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Forensic Investigation - Joseon Era and the Present

Two of my students put a fabulously interesting presentation together related to crime. Each team was to choose an article related to crime, do research and "teach" something new to the other class members while maintaining a 3-4 minute block of time for each presenter. Excellent presentation, my wonderful students! And thank you for letting me share the outline of this information with others!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Unification Could Bring Health Crisis to Korea

I hear so little talk of reunification so when I saw this article posted in the Korea University Hospital, I was a little taken aback. Wow, proof that there is some preparation for a united North and South Korea again. Preparation on a medical level ... very interesting.


(THE KOREA TIMEs, Apr 4, 2017)
by Jung Min-ho, Kim Eil-chul 

Imagine hundreds of thousands of North Korean refugees are crossing the border into South Korea after their regime suddenly collapses. What would be the most urgent issue for the unified Korea?

Surveys show that most South Koreans believe the cost of unification is the biggest concern. However, according to Kim Young-hoon, former president of Korea University Anam Hospital, money may just be a secondary issue.

"President Park Geun-hye said unification would bring a bonanza, but it could instead bring a health crisis, if we are unprepared," Kim said. "Unification could bring along many lethal, infectious diseases that we are not ready to cope with. The worst part is that we know very little about such risks."

Some health risks are obvious, he said. For example, North Korea has about 110,000 tuberculosis (TB) patients, 5,000 of whom died in 2014 alone, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

"More worryingly, many of TB cases in North Korea are multi-drug resistant. This means we don't have any way to cure the highly contagious infection," Kim said.

Even today, South Korea, the fourth-largest economy in Asia, is struggling with its own fight against TB. According to the WHO, the country has the highest TB incidence rate among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

"So if you think that South Korea is capable of coping effectively with a huge influx of TB patients from the North, you may be mistaken," Kim said. "Look at how one patient infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome last year shook the entire nation."

"And TB is just one of the many health risk factors of unification."

The health risks of unification may be even bigger for North Koreans, who have lived behind the walls of the world's most isolated state for more than 60 years. Most of them may not be immune to the diseases that would not affect people in the rest of the world. "For now, we just don't know much," he said.

/Courtesy of Korea University Anam Hospital
The poor overall health status of North Koreans may also bring down that of South Koreans altogether after unification. According to a report published in 2014 by the state-run Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, the average lifespan of North Koreans is 69.5 years, much shorter than the 81 years for South Koreans. In terms of medical standards, experts believe the rich South is 30 to 50 years ahead of the impoverished North.

During his 2014-2015 term at Korea University Anam Hospital, Kim thought the health risks of unification are a serious issue to be addressed. Thus, he created a graduate program to study the health and medical implications of Korean unification, making Korea University the first college to have such a program in Korea. The program will launch in September.

"Some of the program lectures will be open to the public, and I also plan to financially support students in the program as much as possible," he said.

He also created the Inter-Korea Foundation for Health and Medical Education last year under the Ministry of Unification, which will support professors and students in the program.

The foundation has already begun to review medical journals and data from North Korea in an attempt to understand the diagnosis and treatment of different kinds of diseases there in comparison with South Korea. "We are trying to find out, for example, what types of cardiac disorders are common in the state and how they are treated with very limited resources," Kim said.

The foundation will also collaborate with experts to study the health of North Korean refugees in South Korea.

"The foundation and experts are documenting the health status and determinants of North Korean refugees. By doing so, they can try to understand how their health status changes as they adapt to the Westernized lifestyle of South Korea," he said.

Through a cohort study involving about 1,000 North Koreans, researchers at the foundation have already produced some meaningful results. For instance, he noted, the researchers found that North Koreans have a higher risk of developing diabetes, as they will take in much more nutrition when they settle in the South.

One of the courses of the program aims to unify the medical terms of the two states. Many terms used in the North are Korean and Russian, while those used in the South are mainly English.

"Many South Korean organizations have tried to improve the health of North Koreans by giving them medical devices and drugs, but there has been no solid system that can be helpful in the long term," Kim said.

"Not just as preparation for unification. I also hope that our effort can contribute to bringing the two sides closer on their way to the ultimate unification."

Kim Young-hoon, who served as the president of Korea University Anam Hospital, now leads the Arrhythmia Center at the hospital. He is one of the most renowned arrhythmia experts in the country.
/Courtesy of Korea University Anam Hospital
Fixing hearts that have lost their rhythm

Arrhythmia is a condition in which the heart beats either too fast, too slow, too early or irregularly. It occurs when the electrical impulses to the heart that coordinate heartbeats are not working properly.

Arrhythmia is the cause of most sudden cardiac deaths. Atrial fibrillation, which can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications, is the most common type of arrhythmia.

Arrhythmia affects millions of people worldwide, including about 2 to 3 percent of the total population of Europe and North America, and according to the Korean Society of Cardiology, 800,000 to 1 million in Korea as well.

Kim, who now leads the Arrhythmia Center at Korea University Anam Hospital, is one of the most renowned arrhythmia experts in the country.

In 1998, when atrial fibrillation was largely considered impossible to treat, Kim implemented radio frequency catheter ablation, a minimally invasive procedure, in which thin wires called catheters are inserted into a vein to destroy the heart tissues that signal abnormal electrical impulses.

Since then, he has successfully performed the procedure on more than 2,500 patients, dispelling initial concerns about the method's efficacy and safety. Kim said none of his patients has died as a result of the procedure.

"About 95 percent of atrial fibrillation cases can be cured completely with the procedure," he said. "After that, patients just have to take medications."

Having published more than 140 articles about arrhythmia in reputable journals in Korea and abroad, Kim has become well-respected among many experts in the field.

Dailian University in China is one of the many institutions that have asked him to share his know-how about arrhythmia treatment, especially about radio frequency catheter ablation. In 2012, he agreed to do so at the school for five years. Some doctors from Japan, Hong Kong and Indonesia have also visited his hospital in Korea to learn from him.

His research team is now working to develop better ways to treat arrhythmia, in cooperation with experts at world-renowned medical institutions, including Harvard Medical School.

Remembering Rosetta Sherwood Hall

The alumnus of Korea University College of Medicine expressed his affection for his school during the interview, saying his last goal is to revive the spirit of Rosetta Sherwood Hall, an American medical missionary who established the Joseon Women's Medical Training Institute, the predecessor of the medical college, in 1928.

"About a hundred years ago, she risked her life to come here to deliver one message: the importance of helping those in need. I think everyone here needs to take that message seriously and act accordingly. When we do, I have no doubt that the school will change in remarkable ways," Kim said.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Spirit of the Mountain, Inwangsan

David Mason, author of Spirit of the Mountain, gave a walking tour of Inwangsan (also euphemistically known as Witch Mountain) and Sajik-dan, the altar for prayers related to earth and grain.  Some of the highlights of the tour are:

Near Sajik-dan is the shrine to Dangun, founding father to the Korean nation as it is today. Dangun was the grandson of heaven and the son of a bear (see Korean creation myth).  He is said to be the one who brought the Bronze Age culture to Stone Age Korea. And being the grandson of a god, he is said to be immortal ... that is, he became the Sanshin, the Mountain Spirit (god), and his spiritual presence is still worshipped in Korea today. The shrine to Dangun is the largest shrine in the Korean peninsula, and in the shrine, unlike pictures of old venerated men with the gray-of-wisdom hair, Dangun is seated amidst red pine (the supreme tree of Korea) with white cranes (the messenger bird that carries messages to and from heaven) and having black-as-midnight hair. The hair symbolizes his immortality, just as the pine and cranes symbols his connection to heaven.

The Benevolent King emanating from the rocks on Mt. Inwang

The Benevolent King sitting cross-legged with the tiger rock to the right and a black bird, perhaps a magpie, slightly above the tiger. Of course the Benevolent King sits among red pine trees; he is robed in heavenly trees.
View from Seon-bawi, slightly below the Benevolent King.
Source: Dan-gun Shrine at the southern foot of Inwang-san, just above Sajik Altars Park
"Above, the craggy-peak on the left is the In-wang or Benevolent* King himself (in a seated position seen in left profile), or the San-shin if you will, overlooking downtown Seoul. To his right (the other rocky peak) is his accompanying Tiger (pet / servant / guardian / mount / enforcer / alter-ego) with a dark bird perched behind his head. These natural boulder-cliff-formations are among Korea's most significant sacred monuments, serving as masters over the nation's most active center of Shamanism and folk-religious traditions. They are both "manifesting" up out of this mountain in geological time. (Read more on this Korean concept of spirits manifesting upwards in stone is.)  Between and behind them is, most unfortunately, a military base, because this most sacred peak overlooks the Gyeongbok-gung Palace (main royal seat 1392-1910) and Korea's Presidential Mansion (Cheonwadae, the "Blue House").  
These unique rocky outcroppings on the southern cliff face of this mountain, along with other striking natural features such as the Seon-bawi (directly below the King) have attracted shamanic worship to this place since before recorded history. The main figure can be seen as a Benevolent King that will rule humankind (or at least Koreans) in a utopian state when he finally finishes manifesting, or as a kind of natural Buddha statue, or as Mireuk-bul (the Buddha who will come in the future for universal enlightenment and salvation), or the best interpretation (in my opinion), as the very powerful San-shin [Mountain-spirit] of these crags manifesting into the world in stone in his role as King of the Mountain (as he is usually painted, wearing distinctly royal clothing), extended to national significance (could even be seen as the return of Founding-King Dan-gun, who is sort of the San-shin of all Korea). The fact that he (or she?) is side-by-side with a crouching tiger certainly lends weight to the San-shin interpretation -- as that deity is always depicted in icons accompanied by a tiger (Korea's national animal). 
Seon-bawi - Originally meaning "immortal rocks" but now translation provided as "meditation rocks". David Mason thinks by translating the rocks as meditation instead of immortal, the rocks can better be explained by Buddhism, which how the area is now being referred to ... not as a place for shamanic traditions but as a Buddhism temple grounds.
*The Chinese character pronounced In is one of the most important in Oriental philosophy; it is often translated benevolence, or maybe human-hearted, or simply Good / goodness; it's a key Confucian and Neo-Confucian term, as the master himself repeatedly used it to describe how rulers ought to act towards those under them (if they do not they are not to be considered legitimate rulers).It is also heavily used by Buddhists due Inwang-gyeong [Benevolent King Sutra] which was very influential in the early centuries CE when Mahayana Buddhism became established in China and spread to the Korean Peninsula."  
[On the highly-sacred "Benevolent King" Mountain, Shamanic center of Korea's Capitalan important part of the Bukhan-san Sub-Range]

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Donguibogam Village: Gi Energy Rocks

The Donguibogam Village in Sancheong, Gyeongsangnam-do, was built in 2013 after the Donguibogam, the old 25-volume compilation of health and medical treatment, was recognized by UNESCO in 2009. The layout of the very wide "village" is divided into areas -- a kiddy area, a health and healing area, and a tiny village accommodation area with healing facilities like steam bath. 
Near the entrance to the complex. The turtle is a symbol of longevity in Korea, and a golden turtle (modern concept I think) symbolizes great wealth, value, preciousness.
A massive copy of the Donguibogam (published Western-book-style) at the entrance to the extensive grounds.
Because the Donguibogam is recognized by UNESCO, suddenly the value of the text skyrocketed! 

If I were to have a favorite person in history, it would be the court physician Heo Jun (1539-1615) who was in charge of compiling the Donguibogam, literally "Mirror of Eastern Medicine". Between the first and second Japanese invasions of the late 1500s, Heo Jun was appointed as writer of the text to guide people on the principles of health prevention and intervention, and for the next 14 years he labored on the compilation, which was finally completed in 1610 and published in 1613.

"Basking in Samseok (Three Rock) Energy"

I'm fascinated with the physician Heo Jun, and even visited the museum in Seoul dedicated to him, but actually the big attraction in visiting the Donguibogam Village was because I saw a picture of the turtle rock, the second of three rocks that are said to transmit energy to those who petition the rock(s). The turtle rock reminded me of the petroglyphs of Ulsan so I ardently wanted to come, see and learn about it, not realizing that it was (1) one of three powerful rocks for conveying energy, but (2) it is ultra modern and therefore not steeped in old tradition and gi powers.

The sign beside the "turtle rock" or Gwigamseok gave a light translation of the purpose for the gi-giving rocks -- see quotes below.

First rock: Restoring Health Seok Gyeong (Stone Mirror)

"Seok Gyeong (Stone Mirror) allows one to look directly into one's being. That is why it is believed that looking into the stone mirror takes away negative energy and restores a sense of balance. For instance, the culture and tour guide of Sancheong-gun said his sore back began to feel better when he started to visit Seok Gyeong frequently for his work. So why not pay a visit to Seok Gyeong, whether for a cure or for relaxation?"

A very impressive stone!
To gain gi-benefits from this rock, a person must stand in the recessed area and press hands flat and forehead against symbols or a stone. Technically, looking to the side breaks the flow of energy ... ...
More information and testimony about the rock.
Second rock: The Stone of Guigam aka the Stone Engraved with Virtuous Letters

"On May 2009, the Korea Tourism Organization organized a visit to Sancheong to take in the positive energy emanating from the Samseok (Three Stones) erected in Donguibogam Village. KTO President Lee also went along as a guest. Back then Lee had no connections with the organization but not for long -- he was recommended as president soon afterwards. Hundreds will testify that the rock's energy helped them get a new job, pass a test, or fulfill whatever wish they had made. In fact, many people visit the rock, either to make a wish or to express their thanks. [Lee Charm, President of the Korean Tourism Organization et al, (Gwigamseok, Stone Engraved with Virtuous Letters)]"

Gi is the life-force and the energy of vitality. In the central part of the Gwigamseok,
gi is believed to gather at the central hole and surge out.
To press one's whole body against the gi-giving stone is to absorb more of the energy emanating from the rock.
These ladies, after standing with their bodies and hands pressed against the rock for a few minutes, busily checked their energy level by making circulation circles with their middle fingers and thumbs while the friend would try to break the middle-finger-thumb connection. The ladies seemed quite proud that they had more strength after pressing themselves against the rock.
Even a little girl had a go at getting energy, after watching her elders make petitions against the rock.
Third rock: Overcoming Infertility with Positivity (Bokseokjeong, a Dish for Happiness)

"A lot of the stories involving Samseok's miracles involve blessings of childbirth. There was a civil servant working in Busan who had had no children in seven years of marriage. However, just one week after he was dispatched to Sancheong to prepare the World Traditional Medicine Fair and Festival, his wife was found to be with child. Another woman who had been infertile for ten years had a child after visiting the Samseok (Seokgyeong, Gwigamseok, and Bokseokjeong). There are many other such cases that attest to the vital energy surrounding those rocks."

Samseok: Real or Pseudo-science?

So after I posted pictures on the Samseok in the Donguibogam Village on Facebook, a brilliant friend and Korean history scholar Jihoon Suk hit my blog and called the village a pseudo-scientific hall of fame. His exact quote: 

"For me, the whole 동의보감촌 complex is nothing more than a massive pseudo-scientific hall of fame - but just a stroll of the place is at least pleasureable enough - placebo or not... 

There is no history in this complex. The entire complex was built out of a thin air in 2010 after the tremendously popular MBC TV drama, "허준", transformed the 산청군 area into a holy site of the so-called "Korean traditional medicine". Naturally, everything you see in this complex is less than 7 years old.

This particular stone [Seok Gyeong, stone mirror], probably one of the inspirations of this modern sculpture, is just a modern creation - the design is based on Korean bronze age mirrors found in archeological dig but added more modern elements...."

Korean bronze age mirror
I felt gypped after reading Jihoon's comments and said I went to the village mostly to see the Gwigamseok, which I thought was one of the most authentic parts of the complex. Jihoon's immediate response was:

"Unfortunately not [the most authentic part of the complex]. And looks like 동의보감촌 people don't say a word about its true origin to the visitors. Not many people would give a try to these "medicinal" stones if they know these things are less than 10 year old!"

I asked what clued him in about their lack of authenticity, and Jihoon replied, "I don't want to brag about myself but I do know about practically every cultural heritage sites in this country by heart, and I never have heard about this place before. The whole thing certainly wasn't there when I made a visit to the area in 2008."


For those interested in pursuing the pseudo-science complex (even if there's no gi in them, the stones really are quite impressive!)

Set out on a Healing tour to the Donguibogam Village - (the only web site you need b/c everything is linked from here!) -

Friday, May 5, 2017

Hiking Seoul City Wall, the Hanyang Do-seong

May 3 - Buddha's Birthday, May 4 a sandwich day, May 5 - Children's Day = If classes cancelled on May 4 (TH) and made up at an alternate time, then a 5-day weekend is formed. Done!

Hyehwamun - Malbawi Information Center

The weather was gorgeous and I had to be outside, so started walking ... and ended up walking along the Seoul City Wall from Hyehwamun, the northeastern gate and one of the 8 gates of the Seoul City Wall, to Malbawi Information Center on the way to Sukjeongmun, the gate north of the Cheongwandae (the Blue House). Read a book there for a few hours and then walked back home, thinking I would return the next day and hike further the trail behind the Blue House.

Waryong Park / Malbawi Information Center - Site of Donguimun/Seodaemun Gate

The next day I was back with ID card in hand to sign in at the Information Center so I could hike from the trail behind the Blue House and end up at the Changuimun Gate, about a 2 hour hike. While hiking the incredible scenic trail, I conceived the idea that I might as well just keep going and hike the whole Seoul City Wall. Two hours later, after handing in my ID hiking pass at the Changuimun Gate, I crossed the busy street that bisected the wall and started climbing the trail that went up Inwangsan. Wow, this was the most scenic part of the whole 18-kilometer trail! It was also the part where the wall was newly reconstructed in new white cement-stone, and evidence of an older wall totally eluded me. That said, despite history being recreated and looking white-washed and pure, the walk was quiet and ethereal. And I pretty much hiked by myself as it was the "sandwich day" between two national holidays. 

Just before passing beyond the Malbawi Information Center with walking ID in hand and entering the "no picture zone". Facing south, in the distance Namsan Tower stands on Namsan where the southern wall bands the city.
Since the Seoul City government is promoting people to walk the wall and offers a small badge for people who accumulate stamps from 4 areas (Sukjeongmun, Donuimun, Sungnyemun/Namdaemun, Heunginjimun/Dongdaemun) and I had received the stamp at Sukjeongmun, I thought I'd just collect all 4 stamps. Well, couldn't find the booth/office/place for receiving the stamp at Sungyemun. Not finding the booth was pretty consistent too as once the wall dipped down and was severed by modernism and development, the trail disappeared into urban bedlam. Construction, traffic madness, people chasing elusive ideas or narrow timetables ... couldn't find the stamp location. And the next morning when continuing the walk, couldn't find the location of the booth/office/place for receiving the stamp at Sungnyemun/Namdaemun Gate. I did find in the vicinity an adamantly closed Information Center kiosk with the dirtiest windows imagination ... like they hadn't been opened in weeks. Gave up the stamp idea. What good would come of getting a badge anyway? Humph.

A comment though on the wall and the semantics about the great fortress wall of Seoul. Eight years ago people talked about the 10 existing kilometers of the original 18 kilometer-long wall. Now, however, the marketing for the wall has radically changed. The wall is referred to as being 18 kilometers long, while in fact it is not. Yes, the extensive segment on Inwangsan has been built and other places radically rebuilt and/or repaired, but the wall certainly is not 18 kilometers long. The urban swell requires many roads to pass in and out of the city and major gaps in the walls exist to allow the city to be permeable with the rest of the country. In fact, most people on the roads aren't even aware of the wall on the higher slopes that "completely encircle the city". And, on the proposal submitted 2012 Nov 23 to UNESCO for the wall to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage (which it now is), the proposal clearly stated that 10.8 of the original 18.6 kilometers had been restored or well maintained. 
[Signs liberally posted along the wall walking path: Hanyang Doseong (Seoul City Wall) runs 18.6 km along Baegaksan, Naksan, Namsan and Inwangsan ... and passes through many historic sites including the four large gates, Sungnyemun, Heunginjimun, Sukjeongmun and the site of Donuimun.]
Anyway, the largest gap takes, according to the hiking map, 40 minutes to link the wall from the site of Donguimun Gate with Sungnyemun/Namdaemun Gate. I skipped this traffic hopscotch and still claim I hiked the whole wall in three days, which I did. 

The following statue is located at the end of the Bugaksan hike, after returning the security ID. Opposite the statue and across the street begins the next segment, the climb up Inwangsan.

Statue of Superintendent General Choi Gyu-sik and Assistant Inspector Officer Jung Jong-su

Choi Gyu-sik, born in Chuncheon Gangwon-do in 1931, entered the police service in 1961. As a chief officer of Jongno Police Station, he received classified information on January 21, 1968 detailing a North Korean commando unit composed of 31 troopers which included Kim Sin-jo was moving southward from the Paju area in a surprise attack on the South Korean Presidential Office, Cheongwadae (the Blue House). Choi Gyu-sik deployed police officers under his command to block the attack. The unit almost reached the Cheongwandae (currently, in front of the Cheongun Silver Center), but were stopped by armed commandos to inspect them, whereupon the North Korean troopers opened fire with machine guns and hand grenades. In the battle, Choi Gyu-sik was wounded in the heart and abdomen but ordered his men protect Cheongwadae before dying, which they succeeded in doing. In fulfilling his duties and giving his life in the line of duty of his government, Choi Gyu-sik was posthumously promoted to Superintendent General and awarded the Order of Taegeuk Military Merit

Assistant Inspector Officer Jung Jong-su, born in Sangju Gyeogsanbuk-do in 1935 and entering the police service in 1960, also died in the battle. He was posthumously promoted to Assistant Inspector Officer and awarded the Hwarang Order of Military Merit. The tombstone a few meters from Choi Gyu-sik's commemorative statue has been erected on the site where the two officers died while resisting the North Korean troopers infiltration. The bronze statue overlooks the road to Cheongwadae as in a symbolic showing that their spirits live on to protect Cheongwadae.

Climbing up Inwangsan ....

High up on Inwangsan looking back toward the wall already hiked (north).
Looking toward Namsan (south).
Continuing down ... heading south.
... southward ... it's quite a meander ...
A favorite shot on the Inwangsan descent. Namsan in the distance.
Getting lower and the mountain starting to level out.
Wow, I wouldn't like to hike this segment clockwise! Power thighs definitely needed!

Sungnyemun/Namdaemun Gate - Heunginjimun/Dongdaemun Gate

The rebuilt Namdaemun. It's only been open a couple years since it was burned by an arsonist in 2008. Quite an amazing shot at 9:24am on Children's Day ... virtually no traffic! A true miracle!!!
Climbing Namsan, looking westward.
On Namsan, a direct view to the north and the mountains I was on yesterday.

This section of the wall is the most popular. Here the wall is linked by large parks and culture trails to village areas, very crowded village areas, and to market to the continual flow of traffic, shops, street vendors,  and cultural interests (street artists, vendors selling locks for couples to "lock their love" on a gate, cultural performances like pansori or the guards reenactments). There are even several buses (all of them packed!) and a cable car to expedite the lazy to get to the top of Namsan with little effort. Yes, it is Children's Day, but wow, after the quiet of the other segments of the city wall, the thriving mass of people flocking to the Namsan section was a bit of a surprise.

"Locking Love" on a gate near the peak of Namsan. There used to be just one gate for proclaiming eternal love and now there are several sections. The cheapest padlock sold by a vendor in this area is W8,000, and they're plastic-like. The guy has enough to send his kids and grandkids to Harvard!
Namsan Tower from the first "Locking Love" gate.  The 5 pillars are actually part of an advanced ancient lookout system for alerting citizens of an invasion. 
Arrived just in time to see the 11am mini re-enactment of the defense soldiers coming on duty to serve on the lookout for the enemy invaders.
Sentinels standing guard ... My question, but shouldn't they be facing the other way in order to carry out their protection duties?
Descending Namsan and looking back ...
This whole section of the wall had frequent gaps in it to expedite traffic and urban life, and while the brown culture-referencing signs point walkers where to go to pick up the next severed segment, the signs are not always present. The most clearly marked gap was from Jangchung Gymnasium to Gwanghuimun Gate, a 15-minute walk through snaking back alleys. The two worst areas are from the moment the Inwangsan trail hit the urban area (utter madness and huge amounts of construction aiding the madness) and the gap from the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park to Dongdaemun itself. Too many ultra-tall buildings and a mad network of urban streets and no signs directing the way. I was very dependent on naver maps to figure out these urban yarn ravels. 

Heunginjimun/Dongdaemun Gate - Hyehwamun Gate

This is also a pleasant popular place to stroll, very popular for dating. Some little coffee shops and restaurants are speckled along the wall, and if the hiker doesn't exit from "inside" the wall to the "outside" on the steep descent, he/she will end up not at Hyehwamun Gate but suddenly find him/herself in the vibrant, pulsing Hyehwa area filled with shops of cutesies, culture restaurants and unique coffee shops. If you're seeing the beautiful wall and scenery in the shot below, then you've gone too far ... but why not get some great food in Hyehwa?

Hiking the 18 km Seoul City Wall in ... 1 day!

Though I hiked the city wall in three days, technically I hiked all but 40 minutes (Hyehwamun to Waryong Park) in two days, and I think the whole wall could could be totally done in just one day. The full one-day hike would probably take 10-12 hours, not rushing but steadily walking, allow for two 30-minute meals, and of course be walked counter-clockwise. (To walk in the clockwise route, a person would need power thighs!) I did a lot of back-tracking and a fair amount of asking directions and wandering in the gap areas, but if I hike the trail again, I could certainly know a lot of little "tricks" to make the hike smoother and faster ... and testing my theory that it could be comfortably done in a single day.