Two Shots at Fortress Busan # 2: Defeat
A popular legend describes the governor in charge of [Dongnae] fortress, Song Sang-hyeon. When Konishi Yukinaga [leader of 7,000 Japanese invaders] again demanded before the battle that the Koreans allow the Japanese to travel through the peninsula, the governor was said to have replied, “It is easy for me to die, but difficult to let you pass.”
Even when the Japanese troops neared his commanding post during the battle, Song remained seated with cool dignity. Finally, when a Japanese soldier cut off Song’s right arm holding his staff of command, Song picked up the staff with his left arm, which was then cut off; again Song picked it up, this time with his mouth, but was killed by a third blow. The Japanese, impressed by Song’s defiance, treated his body with proper burial ceremony ~ Wikipedia
So I was back in Dongnae — this was two weekends ago — determined to climb up the mountain to the fortress walls. No cable car this time. My timing could have been better, though: western Japan was being flooded and devastated, and we were copping a thorough soaking over here as well.
I actually thought the drenching rains would make for a nice cool hike amid an otherwise sweltering Summer. Call me an optimist.
The cable car was closed. No tourists to be seen in Geumgang Park where it departs; just a handful of indefatigable walkers and the resident wildlife frozen in fibreglass hibernation.
It was really coming down hard; I stalled, attempting some sightseeing in the park beneath my tiny ultralight umbrella. Thunder rumbled down from the ranks of black cloud rolling over the ridge. There would be a break, and I’d start up, but each promise of a lull was a lie. I stalled some more, down the bottom with the graves of the fallen patriots of Dongnae.
These defenders’ remains lay hidden for over a century till they were unearthed and relocated. In the 1970s they were moved again, to this spot in the forest, which was especially atmospheric today in the driving rain.
I sheltered here under the eaves of one of the great gates. My little portable shelter was only just keeping the water from my camera.
A detail from one of the numerous monuments:
Busan was just the beginning of the first invasion. Though getting trounced at sea with brilliant Korean navy tactics, Hideyoshi‘s battle-hardened invaders quickly infiltrated the peninsula and Seoul itself was not long in succumbing. The king had fled. Pyeongyang, now the North Korean capital, also fell.
My next stop, the next set of eaves offering sanctuary:
View from my dry snack stop:
A tomb, and the mountain behind:
But I’d stalled long enough. I’d come here to hike, not sightsee! I started up…
..and soon sought shelter again as the heavens themselves seemed to bust open like a creaky barrel.
This time I hid in a toilet block, then retreated down the hill again — and found a deserted badminton court with a crude but effective shelter rigged up out of beach umbrellas, sticks and rope.
This is the kind of respite you dream of when you’re long-distance hiking and stealth-camping in atrocious weather. I spent a whole night on a toilet floor on my third night on the PCT and was grateful; a very bad night high in the Japanese Alps stretched out on another stinking restroom floor near a mountain hut after my tent was just about blown off the mountain…
But I’d come here to hike, not reminisce! What kind of man hides in public conveniences and beneath beach umbrellas when there’s a mountain to be climbed?
Shame the path was now a cascade…
..and where an ordinarily gentle stream severs the trail, a lethal torrent ploughing its way downhill with a horrendous and undeniably fatal drop over the rocks just to the left.
You can just see the trail continuing on the far side:
I started up a different way — a small party had gone up just ahead of me — but then I remembered the ridge, the lack of shelter, the camera, and that I’d only have to turn around and come down again. The decision was made.
There would be no hiking or hula-hooping today.
I headed back out the gate…
..and of course it was right about then that the rain stopped.
Again, the doubts — should I give it another go? The skies still looked dubious, though, and with some freaky Pied Piper working his magic on the local felines…
..and this feeling that I was being watched…
..I decided to bail for the subway.
I farewelled some sodden-looking bunnies…
..the vanquished flower gardens…
..and the abandoned rides…
..and conceded defeat.
I still felt like a quitter, though, so when I reached Gimhae I raced up a small mountain and explored a deserted hillside temple that I’d never seen. An absolute deluge came down while I was there, huddled another yet another few inches of eaves, umbrella clasped shield-like over my camera — and I was really done with walking this time.
And that’s my Geumjeongsanseong saga all done with.
Or is it?
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote