The next part of my Chuseok trip brought me to Jusanji Pond ( 주산지 ). It was made famous by the art house director Kim Ki Duk ( 김기덕 ), who filmed Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring Again here back in 2003. I can’t recommend all of his films, which can be a touch graphic, but I think most everyone would enjoy this film – especially due to how Kim so brilliantly captured the raw beauty of this landscape.
The day before stopping by Jusanji, I made sure to exhaust myself hiking at Juwangsan. That way, I would hit the hay early and rise before the sun crept over the mountains encircling the pond. I wanted to be there before sunrise, so that I could see the fog lingering along the water’s surface. Sure enough, I woke early, crushed some coffee and made the hike out to the pond. As I arrived, the first glimpses of sunlight softly illuminated the sky. I took a photo with the Rolleiflex ( which will be seen in a later post ), and loaded up the Canon AE-1 with some AGFA CT Precisa slide film, the shots of which can be seen here in this post.
I must admit, I’m not much of a morning person. I’m usually grumpy early in the morning. However, this place had such a strong sense of serenity that I couldn’t help but be in a calm awe of my surroundings. That is, until, the crowds of Korean tourists arrived at daybreak. They were very loud and chatty, and I couldn’t understand why. I feel that, if I had been there with a group of my friends, we would all be silent. Or, at the most, we would whisper. There’s just something about the surroundings that begs for silence.
Anyhow, I once again found myself in a fairly foul mood – not only because of the talkative tourists, but also because of so many “No Trespassing” signs and railings. The path along the fence is up high above the pond and within the trees, so it’s really hard to get a proper reflection shot from that vantage point. There are two decks built down below, but they limit what sorts of photos can be taken. After debating what to do for a while, I eventually hopped the fence and went down to the water’s edge, where I was able to take the photos you see above. I thought that a Korean tourist would bark at me for breaking the rules, but I decided that I didn’t care. I would deal with that situation if and when it came. I drove too far to take mediocre photos of such a scenic place. In order to capture my vision, what I feel does the place justice, I needed to get closer. I needed to be by the water’s edge, down low, to get the proper angle of the pond to show its reflections. And so I did. Others followed suit, and one Korean lady did indeed scold me before I convinced her and her two friends that hopping the fence and having a proper look was worthwhile. They ended up thanking me for showing them how stunning the pond can be when seen from down below.
I’m very pleased with how these photos turned out. I’m especially pleased because my Canon AE-1 started acting funny. This camera gives no warning if the battery is low. I had a backup battery in the car, but that was at least a 45 minute hike roundtrip. If I had gone back and gotten the battery, I would have missed that warm glow of sunlight illuminating the fog. That particular lighting only lasts roughly 5 minutes before the sun gets too high above the mountain, warms the pond, and eradicates the mist. Fortunately enough, the battery lasted just long enough to finish the roll of film. I was very lucky indeed, as these are some of my favorite shots from the whole trip. I hope you enjoy them too!
Jusanji Pond really has a mysterious and somewhat unsettling vibe. The trees living in the pond are well over 100 years old, and the way the fog rolls across the water and tree trunks, breaking the perfectly still reflection, is enigmatic, eerie, and exquisite in its aesthetic. Make sure to check out the other three posts from this spot.
Canon AE-1 / 50mm f1.8 / AGFA CT Precisa slide film / E6 processed