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Monday, 8 April, 2002, 19:09 GMT 20:09 UK
Gwangju - City of culture
Surrounding beauty offers pause for thought
Surrounding beauty offers pause for thought
Gwangju is known as a mecca for culture and arts, but it is slowly catching up the rest of the country in terms of industrial development.

The tradition and culture of the capital of Jeollanam-do may slowly be disappearing, but it has not gone yet.

Any visitors during the World Cup will be made only too aware of the history of the city.

Normally the centre of the city's culture is crammed in the Street of Art.

Area facts
Population: 1.34m
Province: Jeollanam-do
Location: South-west peninsula
Local team: n/a
Sights: The Biennial

The city houses the only museum in the world dedicated to bamboo
But the Gwangju Biennial, an exhibition of all things cultural and creative relating to the city, will be held during the World Cup.

Contemporary artists come from all over Korea and beyond to show off their wares.

The theme for the festivities, running from 29 March to 29 June, is P_A_U_S_E.

It was proposed in response to the speed of life in the 21st century and invites artists to explore avenues of slowing down and reflecting on life.

Unfortunately this year's Biennial has come too late for the town planners.

They went into fast forward in following the lead of South Korea's other major cities and industrial parks are now inprinted across the city like a patchwork quilt.

But there is one thing that hard-working employees need to sustain their energy and maintain the high output of the local economy - food.

And food is fuel and the best pit stop is Duck Street.

Festival fun
Go-fighting Folk Game
On the 15th day of the first lunar month the result of a mass tug-of-war is said to predict the next year's harvest
It is the only stop for all things culinary, especially if duck is involved in the guise of the Gwangju speciality yeongyang oritang - duck stew.

Visitors are often left dumbfounded by the quantity and quality of food, particularly in the traditional meal of hanjeongsik.

Food is so important in the city that there is an annual festival in honour of gimchi - a spicy vegetable dish - in October.

And there is no better escape from the industrial parks than Mudeungsan Mountain in the city centre.

Its forest-clad slopes offer the perfect respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, offering stunning vistas of the region and wonderful walks.

For the more sedentary, there are the Soswoewon gardens which are representative of the mid-Joseon Dynasty.

And finally there is Unjusa, where, according to legend, the one thousand buddhas and stone pagodas were built by a buddhist monk called Doseonguksa overnight.

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