An Ho, a Chinese graduate student studying in Korea, was too busy with his thesis to go traveling this summer. But as he was conducting research on the 1950-53 Korean War, his thesis topic, he learned of a museum dedicated to the war in Incheon and summoned his schoolmate Cheon Yega to pay a visit to the city.
They began their trip by heading to the Incheon Metropolitan City Museum. The nation's first public museum opened in 1946 and displays items related to the city's past and present, including those from the prehistoric period. Having looked around the museum, An said, "It's my first time to Incheon since I arrived in Korea. It was quite interesting to see the artifacts here showing the country's past and the way Koreans used to live." The museum provides guided tours and audio guides.
Their next destination was the neighboring Incheon Landing Operation Memorial Hall, built to commemorate the historic operation during the Korean War. The museum provides a glimpse into the developments of the fratricidal war, through the exhibition of 825 items such as the weapons and daily necessities used at the time, as well as the military uniforms of the participating countries. It helped An deepen his knowledge of the war.
The last stop was the Central Park. Inspired by the artificial canal in Venice, the park was built around the nation's first seawater lake. High rises of various designs surround the park, creating an exotic landscape.
Hungry from the tour, An and Cheon headed for a nearby street lined with restaurants specializing in blue crab stew. Incheon is famous for its freshly caught seafood and the stew is one of the most popular local dishes. It has a unique spicy-yet-sweet flavor due to all the pumpkins used to prepare the stock, and can easily be found at markets in the city.
"In China, stews are not so common. Fried food is much more popular," An said. "Of all the Korean stews, blue crab stew would seem to be the most palatable to Chinese."
Incheon will host the Asian Games from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4 in 2014. China first participated in the Teheran Asian Games in 1974. Eight years later, at the New Delhi Games, China outperformed Japan, which had maintained the top spot for eight straight editions of the event, in the overall medal tally to emerge as Asia's No. 1 sporting power. Since then, China has consistently topped the table at Asia's largest sports event and played host twice in 1990 and 2010.