written by: Hugo J. Smal
Seollal 설날 2021 has passed, Korean Lunar new year. The year of the Ox sets in. In normal times family members come together on Seollal. In the morning people bow to the ancestors and look ahead and hope for a year full of prosperity. But this is not a normal year. The year of the Ox is also the second year of Covid 19. Both here in the Netherlands and Korea, a lockdown and a curfew rule life. The year of the Ox comes after that of the rat. It is believed that the Rat represents constant change and that of the Ox one of slow but constant movement. What happens with Korean Koi in the year of the Ox
We were in Korea during the first half of 2020. Kim Young Soo took the difficult step very early on and closed the Baedagol theme park. His sense of responsibility for the visitors – mostly students – is very high. He doesn’t want his park to become be a super spreader. Everything was locked. Only a handful of employees looked after the animals and maintained the park. Mickey and I took care of the many koi in the fish house and watered the plants.
Breeding Koi varieties
Kim Young Soo started breeding Koi varieties in May. I tried my best to help where I could. However, his crew has a lot more experience and so I always had to do my very best not to get in the way. Other than that, it was a great learning moment. See how the little ones turn into one centimetre large Koi, some of which already showed clear markings. It was a great educational adventure. Many of the Tosai showed potential! Promisingly they swam around in the ponds.
We had to stay a month longer than normally allowed. Most flights were shut down and the rest fully booked. We flew back to the Netherlands to stay a month. But yes, Covid! The Korean government changed the Visa rules and the Netherlands imposed negative travel advice. Do not go abroad if it is not necessary. A Covid wall between us and the Goyang Koi farm. I hate it! Especially now that big plans are being made there.
A new Koi farm on Modo island.
Kim Young Soo was in 2002 at the Holland Koi Show in the Kasteeltuin of Arcen. Then my Korean adventure began. He told me that he was going to export Koi worldwide but that he would take plenty of time to do so. Patience is one of his strengths and he has made use of it. First a relatively small Goyang Koi farm at the Baedagol theme park in Goyang city. Gain experience and slowly invest in the fish stock.
He has always found it a disadvantage that the journey from Goyang Si to Incheon airport takes at least 45 minutes and much longer in traffic jams. This is of course not much when you compare it to Japan. After all, the journey from Niigata to Narita airport takes at least five and a half hours. There are already almost five hours in between and every hour is profit. Benefit for the health of the fish. Kim Young Soo thinks there is room for improvement. The shorter the stress time for the animals, the better.
North of Yeongjongdo, three small islands lie in a line from east to west. Sindo, Shindo and Modo. Kim Young Soo had already taken me to this wild and yet lovely area in 2004 or 2005. From Yeongjondo you can sail in 10 minutes to the port of Sindo from where you can through Yeondo bridge reaches all islands. The islands are called the three brothers (Bukdomyeon).
The topography of the islands is beautiful. Mountains with a height of up to 200 meters. Along the coasts of the islands are mudflats where, among other things, rice, cabbage and radish are grown. A lot of seaweed (Nori) is also harvested. Jangbondo Island also lies in the same east-west line. The mudflats there are protected natural areas.
To the north is Gangwha Do. This island is located in the mouth of the Imjin and Han rivers. Many raids from various countries have been fought there. A little further North is North Korea. And we can’t go there for the time being. By the way, a great desire of mine remains: to walk around freely in that closed country.
Read more after the movie!
There is a lot to write about in this area and that is what I will certainly be doing soon. Now I will limit myself to Baemikkumi Beach on Modo.
The Baemikkumi Beach park is located on this beach. On the sand and in the water are the statues of Ilho Lee. This park became famous because Kim Ki Duk filmed his film “Time” there in 2006. Unfortunately, Kim Ki Duk has become victims of Covid. He died on December 11, 2020.
When Kim Young Soo took me to this place we walked up from the park to a piece of land against the mountain. He had had it in his possession for years. The plot of land is surrounded by Korean spruce and wild overgrown. I still remember the smell of the sea and the sound of the waves. On top of the mountain, a small Doltap built against a tree. The stacked stones bring happiness to this piece of land.
Now it is clear to me what Kim Young Soo intended it for. Now in this second Covid year, he starts building a new Koi farm. The carp will still be farmed in the Goyang Si area. Over there he has the mud ponds on several pieces of land. Here on the mountain the fish will be shown and prepared for export.
The building of the Yeongjong-Sindo Peace Road has started on Sido. This road, consisting of a bridge, will connect to Incheon in 2025. The road is also the starting point of the Peace Road that will eventually lead to Kaesong in North Korea. With this South Korea shows that it very much wants to open borders with their family in the North. The road has a great advantage for the Goyang Koi farm, the fish and the enthusiasts. Travel time is significantly reduced. Incheon airport and therefore the entire world is around the corner.
Take the Ox by the horns.
The year of the Ox will be a year of slow but steady construction on Modo Island for the Goyang Koi farm. A new Koi house, a restaurant and a botanical garden. Mickey and I can’t wait for Covid to be under control. We want to help Korea and Kim Young Soo with the realization of his plans. Maybe it’s a good idea for everyone to get started with new plans where possible. So take this year by the horns— be until next lunar cycle being as strong as an ox!
Another adventure on the Islands: Good on boats.
The Koi house at Goyang Si. I am sure the new one on Modo will be better. Although! This is almost impossible.