Incheon's Chinatown a Home from Home for Taiwanese Visitor

      April 20, 2012 12:57

      Gaehangnuri-gil, one of the main tourist attractions in the port city of Incheon, is a thoroughfare lined with buildings built by Chinese, Japanese and Americans who came to the city to trade a century ago.

      After visiting the street in the city's Chinatown, Liu Myongliang, a public relations officer at the Taiwanese Consulate in Seoul who has lived in Korea for 15 years said, "It feels like I'm in my hometown." 

      The entrance of Chinatown

      Liu took a tour of a Chinese restaurant that opened in 1905 and was the birthplace of the popular black-sauce noodles known as jajangmyeon, and visited an altar built in honor of a Chinese deity. Liu said jajangmyeon is a unique Korean food created by Chinese people in Korea. He added, "There's a dish in China and Taiwan that is similar to jajangmyeon, but it looks and tastes a bit different."

      Liu Myongliang (center) walks around Chinatown with tour guides.

      In another part of Incheon's Chinatown, a mural depicts some of the key scenes from the 14th century historical novel "Romance of the Three Kingdoms." The images begin with the first meeting of the three main characters, who swear allegiance to one another and become blood brothers.

      The mural leads to Freedom Park, which offers views of Incheon Port. Walking down a nearby set of stairs leads to what used to be a foreign concession lined with Japanese-owned buildings on one side and Chinese ones on the other.

      A mural depicts the 14th century Chinese historical novel "Romance of the Three Kingdoms."

      One building that was a Japanese bank during Japan's forced occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945 is now used as an architectural exhibition center that shows how the city looked 100 years earlier when it saw an influx of Western civilization.

      Liu shared his idea of developing the city's cultural assets into tourism resources. He said the city can benefit from the Korean Wave sweeping Asia, and Taiwan is no exception.

      "That started 10 years ago. Not only Korean TV dramas, but music and food are also popular," he said. "If you turn on the TV, there are at least three to four channels broadcasting Korean TV dramas, and their ratings are often higher than local programs."

      Stone lamps in Japanese and Chinese styles line the stairs.

      "That's why Korean cuisine such as tteokbokki [the country's favorite snack, made of rice cake and spicy chili paste] and kimchi are so popular in Taiwan," he said, adding that Incheon's Chinatown and other cultural assets would have great appeal to Taiwanese tourists.

      The port city of Incheon was just a small fishing village until the middle of the 19th century. It has since grown into one of the world's major ports and will host the Asian Games in 2014. The next edition of the region's biggest sporting event will run from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4 of that year featuring 13,000 athletes from 45 countries competing in 36 different sporting events.

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