Offering a look into the origins of Korean family names, Ppuri Park (뿌리 공원) combines history and beauty in Daejeon. With 136 statues recognizing as many family names and origins across the Korean peninsula, it's a chance for the locals to learn more about where their family names come from. For us foreign visitors, it's a chance to learn more about how much Korean family names mean to them.
Definitely an unusual sight in an otherwise peaceful place. The fairly large grassy area is being transformed into a Traffic Safety Education Place for Children, thus explaining the signs waiting on standby. Not pictured are the traffic lights, one-lane roads, and excessive amount of traffic signs already in place.
One of the the 136 statues in the park - this one (#16) is of the Kim family from the Buan area. While the carvings are entirely in Korean or Chinese, the brochure gave enough information for us English-speakers to get by.
#13 - the Lee family from the Gapyeong area. Remember that the Kim family name and the Lee family name originate from multiple areas of the country - these two family names are the equivalent of 'Smith' and 'Jones' in the U.S.
For some unknown reason, this is called the 'Deep-root fountain' - with four animal heads and fountains around it to boot.
Exhibit #52 - the Lee family from Hongyang. According to Wikipedia, the Lee family name comprises 14.8% of all Korean family names. Again, the Korean description is large, but every statue is unique.
A place to rest - walk up the stairs to Palgakjeong and enjoy the view, or just take in the recently painted ceiling:
Walking up the hill a little further we see this interesting sight:
Established 1 November 1997, the Samnam Monument serves as an observatory to the area.
Pretty - but can anyone identify?
The Jeongja 12 Zodiacal Animal Figures - Chinese astrology is based on the year of your birth, not the month-long periods Westerners associate with astrology. Each year is named for an animal - the Year of the Dog, the Rat, and so on - whichever one you believe, the twelve animals are all on display here.
While the history of family names doesn't sound all that interesting to foreigners, but names mean quite a bit to Koreans. The area offers plenty of other sights to make it worth visiting for an afternoon, or part of a weekend in Daejeon.
Now, for the Taeguks (out of 5):
Ease to arrive:
Worth the visit:
Directions to Ppuri Park: From Seoul Station, Daejeon is a one-hour train ride by KTX (two hours by Muganghwa-class train), making it daytrippable from Korea's largest city. Once at Daejeon station, walk to the street and cross straight. If going through the subway, look for the exit for Samseong-dong. Either way, find bus 312 or 313 to the bus's last stop, which should be Ppuri Park. Walk through the parking lot, over the bridge, and look left for the park. Open from 7am-9pm from October - February, and 6am-10pm from March - September. Free admission; don't forget to pick up a brochure from the office near the entrance - that'll be the only English explanation you get!
© Chris Backe - 2009