Hwabon – The Korean Countryside

The rural village of Hwabon

Hwabon is a small rural village in Gunwi County. Gunwi, in the Gyeongsangbukdo province, is also called the “garden city” and “the place where culture and history comes alive”. Gunwi is famous for its agricultural contribution to Korean dinner tables,  a number of well-preserved cultural relics, Confucianism and the beautiful views from Mt. Palgonsan.

Besides all the known sights of Gunwi, Hwabon, Train StationI was lucky enough to explore one of the lesser known sights: Hwabon.

Hwabon is a small rural village in the Korean countryside with only a few attractions and it all began around the tiny Hwabon train station. 

Train stations are not often seen as attractions, but here in the countryside of Korea there was a certain ambiance to this place and I had the best time capturing the history of Hwabon on the tracks, in the station, at the water tower and in the museum under the clear blue skies of the Korean countryside on a lovely autumn day.

Hwabon Train Station

The Hwabon Train Station opened its doors and tracks in 1936. The waiting room is only about 3m x 3m and to this day cargo and passenger trains still operate on this line and only four trains make a stop at the station every day. 

HwabonC1Fee to cross the tracks to the water tower: $0.50

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Hwabon Water Tower

The historic water tower behind the train station was constructed in the 1930s and steam locomotives used this tower during “water stops” to replenish water. The 20m water tower is not in use anymore and visitors can go inside to catch a glimpse of how the two towering pipes worked during the earlier years of railroad travel.

At the time of my visit (early autumn) the surrounding area was covered in beautiful cosmos flowers and golden rice fields.

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Fee to cross the tracks to the water tower: $0.50

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Hwabon School Museum

The museum came into existence after Sanseong Middle School closed down due to a lack of students. The name of the museum roughly translates to “When Mom and Dad were little kids…”

The one part of the school was transformed into an old village with two “streets”, a few shops and houses. The other side of the school gives visitors the chance to walk through an old classroom and a display area taking you back to the early 1900s.

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Entrance fee: $2

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“I long for the countryside. That’s where I get my calm and tranquility.”  – Emilia Clarke

The history of almost a century ago is tucked away in small alleyways; it’s on wall murals, between the wrinkly lines of old folks and in run-down houses. Here in the Korean countryside, the yesterdays are letting off steam on the tracks of tomorrow.

All aboard!

Hop on a train to Hwabon to get side-tracked in one of the lesser known areas of South Korea…you’ll probably be the third foreigner to visit the rural village of Hwabon.  

For train times, have a look at the Korail website.

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