This year, Nicole and I are teaching in public school in a small town in South Korea. Our town is called Gwangyang. It’s in the Jeollanamdo province. The province is in the Southwest corner of South Korea. We live on the Eastern border of the province. It’s divided, by mountain, into two districts Dong Gwangyang and Gwangyang-Eup. I live in Dong Gwangyang.
The town isn’t very big. There are about 140,000 people. There’s a Pizza Hut and a Dominos, but other than that, no foreign chains, that I know of. There are little grocery stores, called “marts” and shops. There’s a place called Cacao Churro across the street from our apartment. Downtown there’s a large department store called HomePlus. It’s owned by TESCO and it’s where Nicole and I go to get anything we can’t find at the local grocery store, such as fine cheese and stuffed olives.[divider_flat]
Gwangyang, South Korea is perhaps most well known for POSCO, the local steel plant. It claims to be the largest facility of it’s kind in the world. This is quite possible considering it makes 18 million tons of steel per year. It’s a self-described “tourist trap”…no seriously, it’s on their Wikipedia page, although I think they’re using the term incorrectly. I haven’t seen any tours promoting the plant. Here’s a neat video below about POSCO steel.
On the weekends Nicole and I walk downtown from our apartment. It’s about 20 minutes. Downtown Nicole and I will stop into Flora’s, a local Korean-owned italian restaurant. Sometimes we’ll go to Goldfinger, named for the legend of King Midas, not the James Bond movie. It’s a little wine bar with exposed wood and brick. There’s another bar that many of the foreigners from Gwangyang and the surrounding cities visit, called String. It’s a good place to hang out, but nothing about it in particular stands out.
There’s a small but vibrant foreign community of about 20-40 people, although I only know about 15 of them. On weekends we get dinner together or visit String or Goldfinger. Sometimes we take weekend trips together to Gwangju or Busan. The community feels more tightly knit than in Gwangju since there are fewer of us. Overall, I really like living here.