Ulju’s Bangucheon, and Places That Have Turned the Clock Back
In Bangucheon in Ulju, a county in the western part of Ulsan, we encountered the mysterious world from a distant past.
Mark Twain, the American author of < The Adventures of Tom Sawyer >, once said, “Explore, dream, discover!” So we followed his words and traveled to Ulju. In April, Bangucheon Stream and its surrounding areas were designated “Scenic Site” by the Cultural Heritage Administration. It had been 20 years since the study first began to assess the value of the area as a potential Scenic Site. Bangucheon is what Daegokcheon used to be called up until Joseon Dynasty. Daegokcheon is a stream in the upper part of the Taehwa River, formed with water flowing down from Tapgol on Mt. Baekwoon and with a few other branches. The ‘s’ shaped stream is home to some beautiful native plants and historic and cultural heritage that will fuel your adventurous side.
Drawing on Rocks
The journey begins with the search of petroglyphs designated as National Treasure. About 30 petroglyph sites are known to exist in Korea. And only two of them have been recognized as National Treasure, and both are along Daegokcheon. They are Bangudae petroglyphs in Ulju’s Daegok-ri, and Cheonjeon-ri ‘gakseok’, also in Ulju. The former features drawings done by hard tools, while gakseok refers to engravings of letters or patterns.
Bangudae petroglyphs were made during the prehistoric age. They’re on the cliffs by Daegokcheon. Some 300 drawings of animals can be seen on the flat rock surface, measured at about 8 meters wide and 5 meters high. The whale appears more than any other animal. Ulsan is famous for being a city of whales. Petroglyphs depict a whale swimming with its baby or people out whaling. Cheonjeon-ri gakseok can be found on the surface of a rectangular rock standing about 10 meters wide and 3 meters tall. Prehistoric petroglyphs and Silla-era drawings and passages are engraved there. What did our ancestors want to say by drawing and writing on these hard rocks, leaving us images that can’t be easily erased? Think of the passage of time that these rocks have withstood, and imagine the lives of people who spent time here.
Art Created by Nature
The path that leads to petroglyphs can be described as an outdoor natural history museum. Around Daegokcheon are layers of sedimentary rocks from the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic Era. You can find fossils of dinosaur footprints and other geological phenomena. Wild animals and plants in the area add mystique to Daegokcheon. Mt. Dongmae Natural Wetlands, about 200 meters from Bangu Village toward the petroglyphs, have willow spindle trees and alder trees. The path leading from Bangudae petroglyphs to Cheonjeon-ri gakseok is surrounded by hepatica, anemone chrysanthemum, dogtooth violet and corydalis, among other native plants. The beauty of the area surrounding Daegokcheon was such that it inspired Joseon-era artist Gyeomjae Jeong Seon to make a painting. There are other historical sites, dating all the way back to the Three Kingdoms era through Joseon Dynasty, that show us a glimpse into our ancestors’ lifestyle and their travel patterns.
Starting from Ulsan Daegok Museum, you can take an easy stroll past Cheonjeon-ri gakseok and to Bangudae petroglyphs. Ulsan Petroglyph Museum is the other museum by Daegokcheon. The petroglyph museum also offers a program on walking along Daegokcheon toward petroglyphs. This one is for a more aggressive adventurer. The stream stretches for about 27 kilometers, and it has been blessed with such precious and beautiful natural surroundings. A walk along or around Daegokcheon will help you forget your troubles, if only momentarily.
Where to Stay in Ulju: LOTTE HOTEL ULSAN
LOTTE HOTEL ULSAN is a 50-minute drive from Ulsan Petroglyph Museum. From stylish guest rooms, Onsan Industrial Complex, one of 12 major landmarks of Ulsan, comes into the view. The hotel also features a fitness center, a swimming pool, a golf driving range and a spa center, places that will add to the joy of your stay and help you relax after a long day.
Address 282 Samsan-ro, Nam-gu, Ulsan
Address 282 Samsan-ro, Nam-gu, Ulsan