Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Beautiful Geoje Island: fresh air, exotic beaches, mountains and... two of the world's largest shipyards!

Once (not long ago) known as 'Koje', before the new romanization system of the Korean language kicked in, the island -- which is the principal island of Geoje City, on the southern coast of Gyeongsangnam-do province -- is famous for being home of the world's 2nd and 3rd largest shipyards: Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) in Gohyeon and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) in Okpo, respectively. I first visited the shipyards back in the Korean summer of 2002 when I was in the city visiting my father who was working at DSME at the time -- now he works at Hyundai Heavy Industries (the world's largest, in Ulsan City). I was amazed by the magnitude of the shipbuilders, and I just saw a little bit of each one. I had never seen such huge ships in my life, I mean they are freaking huge! You'll see hundreds of people driving, cycling and scootering around to get to places like in no other foreign shipyard, that's for sure. When it's time to get off work, at about 5 or 6pm, hundreds of men on scooters pretty much take over the streets around the shipyards, which scarily shows how the city and country's economic growth has long depended on their heavy industries.

Check out these pictures I took of the shipyards just last year:

Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI):

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME):

Geoje Island -- or Geojedo (거제도), 'do'(도) means 'island' in Korean -- is the second largest island in South Korea (second to Jeju Island) and is filled with foreigners everywhere you look. Most of them obviously work at the monstruous shipyards or are visiting the ones who do. I like it how you can see so many foreign kids, of completely different backgrounds and cultures, playing and interacting with each other as well as with Korean kids, even though their English (any of the kids') might be poor or they might not speak it at all! I remember how my little Brazilian sister, who was just 5 years old back in 2002 when we were there visiting our dad, would make friends with other kids, Korean and foreign, in a heartbeat. She once brought this shy Korean girl (about her age) to my dad's apartment to introduce her to us. I remember my sister going like (in Portuguese): "people, this is my new friend! She can speak English! Listen!" She turns over to the girl and asks the only question my sister actually knew in English, "what's your name?", and the girl promptly replied! Haha. We were absolutely delighted.

For a long time, my memories of Korea were mostly of Geoje Island... Some beautiful memories that  eventually brought me back to this amazing country, not to visit, but to live here. So, here I am.

I leave you with some more pics I recently took of beautiful Geoje. Enjoy.

In the center of the picture is London Pub, a good time on any night.

PS. HAPPY 2010 YA'LL! :)

I couldn't miss this little Korean boy posing for a picture by this huge 2010 ice sculpture outside Hyundai Department Store, in Ulsan City. :)