Geomdansan, 8th May

This was another weekend where my plans kept changing. It was the final week of the K-League before the mid-season break for the World Cup and initially I’d planned to head south to watch the game between Gwangu Sangmu and Gangwon. It wasn’t a game that particularly stood out from that week’s fixture list but what caught my attention was the nearby butterfly festival. A lot of places in Korea seem to try and publicise themselves by having festivals of one sort or another. The bullfighting one at Cheongdo being a prime example. Hampyeong’s big idea though was butterflies. Cheaper than bulls and less trouble if one escapes.

We used to catch butterflies in nets when we were kids, although we never really knew what to do with them once we caught them. Sometimes we would put them in a biscuit tin, sometimes a Tupperware container. If we remembered we would put a few holes in the lid to let some air in, although in the case of the Tupperware containers that didn’t always go down well with our Mams. Invariably, though, they all seemed to die within a few hours of being caught, which we took to be proof of the short life cycle of a butterfly rather than any consequence of our care regime.

I shot one once, when I was a bit older. It made the mistake of settling on a rock whilst it was my turn with the air rifle. I didn’t even put a pellet in the gun, just shot it with air from a range of about an inch. It just disintegrated. Anyway, I don’t do stuff like that these days, not least because I don’t have an air rifle, and so a trip to the butterfly festival before going on to a K-League match seemed a pretty good way to spend a weekend.

That was until a group that I’d been hiking with when I first arrived in Seoul suggested a trip to Jirisan. Jirisan is the second highest mountain in South Korea at 1915 metres and a weekend trip to tackle it would have meant an overnight bus ride and a 4.30am start in the dark. I liked that idea and so the butterflies would just have to wait for another year. Unfortunately, not enough other people fancied the early start and so the trip was cancelled at the last minute. I’d got my hiking head on by that time though and so I skipped the football and butterflies and went up Geomdansan with my other hiking group instead.

A bit crowded at the top

Geomdansan, at 657m, is nowhere near as high as Jirisan, but some stretches were a bit of a slog. It was enjoyable though and we had a bit of a picnic at the top before stopping at a barbeque restaurant at the bottom. There was plenty of makgeolli drunk on the way around with more at the end and a few shots of soju. I didn’t see a butterfly all day though.

More graves in the middle of nowhere

Whilst I was enjoying myself in the hills, Jeonbuk didn’t have a game. I don’t think it was their turn to miss out because of there being an odd number of teams in the K-League. It was more likely to be as a consequence of them having an Asian Champions League Game against Adelaide United in Australia four days later, which they won 3-2 courtesy of a Lee Dong Gook goal four minutes from the end of the second period of extra time. The lack of a final K-League game meant that Jeonbuk finished the first phase of the season in eighth position with sixteen points from ten games, eight points behind leaders Ulsan Horang-i, but with two games in hand.

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