A couple of weeks ago we headed down to Gangneung. A little coastal city that may Wonju residents love to visit. We prepared ourselves for a array of seafood and a look at some of Gangneung's best attractions. One of the most impressive was Unification Park.
Unification Park is supposedly meant to be a symbol of the eventual unification of North and South Korea. However, in my opinion, it achieved the opposite.
At Unification Park you will find a North Korean submarine that crashed into rocks just off of Gangneung's shore in 1996. The submarine had been sent to spy on South Korea but founf itself in water that was simply too shallow to navigate. After setting fire to the submarine, to prevent the South Koreans from gaining any addaitional information, the North Koreans fled but a manhunt ensued and only one of the 26 crew survived the attack. The submarine is outdated and old. The technology looks like something people used to play with in the twenties.
Walking through the sub you feel claustrophobic and cramped and struggle to imagine how 26 people managed to fit into this tiny vessel.
This stark contrast to the sub the 4000 ton US/ROK decommissioned warship that has also been put on land for display. The vessel is huge and seems to be equipped with an array of weapons and has a history to match. It was built in 1945 and has participated in the World War II, Vietnam War, and the Korean War.
What is fantastic about this park, which I don't think I have ever seen anywhere else, is that you are able to engage with the submarine and the vessel. You can touch the guns, turns the knobs, run your fingers along the rusty exterior of the sub, you can re-position the missile launcher on the vessel and you can simply imagine what it must of been like to be on these aquatic marvels. Cramped into an outdated submarine or scanning the seas for possible threat off of the large deck of the warship.
It's saddening and awesome all at the same time.
A trip to Unification Park in Gangneung is for anyone who enjoys history, an interactive approach to history, and seeing things in a way you have never seen them before.