Korean Treasures of 1969 over the Pacific Ocean on the net
600 photos taken by an American solider who stayed in Korea in the late 1960s

Reported by Byeong Ryeol Choi

Oh My News, 2 March 2003


The photos of things Korean and life styles in the late 1960s are available on the internet. They were taken by an American solder, who served on an army base located in Seoksu-dong in Anyang city, while traveling around Seoul and neighboring cities as an army messenger. His photos provide contemporary Koreans with a great opportunity to travel back to a bygone era of Korea history.

The photos are available on the personal homepage (http://mishalov.com) of Neil Mishalov who presently resides in Berkeley California in the U.S. Photos of the life styles of Seoul citizens, streets such as Bando Hotel, Kwanghwamun, and Yongsan, Seoul as well as Han-river scenery and his army life in 1969 in Yanyang can be uploaded. Photos of the neighboring cities of Suwon, Incheon and Osan city and even aerial photos of those cities showing a variety of scenes are also available in color

The rural sceneries of Seoksu-dong village, the site of an army base in 1968 and many lost buildings in Anyang city can be reconstructed in our minds’ eye from the photography. They are vivid historical records of the past and allow us to travel back in time by showing the lives of village people from the very young to the very old.

The photos of Seoksu-dong Village in Anyang account for most of these photos. The gallery web page of Seoksu-dong Village contains many photos of Seoksu-dong village, rural women, old people and young children. The innocent appearance of schoolgirls from elementary and middle schools together with the photos of village scenery of those days are also available. The photographs illustrate the life of farmers in Anyang area and other rural communities around the army base with the photographs of rice stores and farming work such as rice-planting, irrigation, and plowing.

You should enjoy the sight of old Anyang station, which was demolished long ago. The old street from the station plaza to Samwon theater is a sentimental journey for those who remember these times. While the rare old buses running in Anyang station plaza are the focus of our attention, buildings and signs near the dull bus station are so clearly seen that you can read “Sunheung gwan”, the Chinese restaurant in front of the station, “Pokposu dabang” and “Geomgang dabang, the coffee shops where the people who were waiting for buses killed their time. There is also a tailor’s shop

You can see the flag of all nations hanging next to the big picture of the movie ‘Emilre jong (mom bell)’ which was then on show at Upmin gwan, the first movie theater in Anyang, where presently Korean Exchange Bank is located . You can also see a wagon selling ice cream and ice flakes with syrup standing on a large road, which is presumed to be the entrance of New Market at that time (the present Central Market in Anyang 4-dong) and the early structure of the building of Geunmyeong Women’s Vocational high school standing in the middle slopes of Suri mountain.

There is a special picture taken from the crossroads of Anyang post office located in the center area of Anyang . The angle towards the city shows a two lane paved road covered with a cloud of dust right after a road widening. We can easily see the urban district of those times in the photo, which also shows the then buildings of Anyang southern market and 4 –dong around the Man-an-road, the chimney of Hangukslate (Korea Slate) factory and the sharp bell tower of Jungang Methodist church.

Other photos show the removed Gothic bell tower of Jungang Catholic church and neighboring houses in Anyang City. The signs and the buildings of general shops located in the central city such as Gangwon Sanghoe, Samhwa Sanghoe and Seoul Sanghoe and restaurants selling both western and Korean foods lining the street and street vendors give us a visual memory of those times in color.

You can even observe a car accident spot in a photo that shows a bus crash at a farm close to Seoksu-dong bridge. This is just in front of Anyang amusement park where the Anyang national highway No.1 passed by. It also shows Anyang amusement park in which people enjoy splashing around during hot summer days with a scene of children buying ice cream. You can see a large pool, Wangsil inn and the lost pool no. 1. in color

There are those photos showing various parts of Seoul such as The Bando Hotel, Ganghwamun street, Yongsan U.S Army Base, Bridges of Han River and the roads and neighboring cities of Gimpo, Osan and Suwon. The aerial photos of Suwon city makes this special web site even more invaluable. The hundreds of photos taken by Mr. Mishalov preserve our valuable history.

The story how this special web site became known to Koreans is also interesting. One Korean netizen found colorful photos showing various sciences of Anyang City of 1960s on a personal web site of a foreigner by accident while doing web-searching and put the web address on the Anyang City web page for other people last month.

The netizen said “ in those photos, we can see old people and young kids. The beautiful young girls in the photo must be old ladies now and the kids would be in their 40s. They are priceless artifacts especially for Seoksu-dong citizens”

It was also suggested that we should look for people in the photos. Even though many would not be Anyang City citizens, it would be very meaningful for Anyang city as well as those people themselves.

Mr. Mishalov’s photos are not about ancient history or battles but they are very valuable for us because people then were not interested in leaving the record of their normal life and places. I believe it was a stranger’s curiosity that made it possible for today’s Koreans to have this great opportunity to see the traces of history. For this stranger, the people who he met, the places where he passed and the scenes that he watched might have different meanings from the people who lived there.

Thanks to Ms. Wolae Jung, Deputy Director, Department of Culture and Art, Anyang City, Korea, for graciously translating this news essay from Korean to English. Ms. Jung has been very helpful and of great assistance to me. Thank you, Wolae.

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