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[HanCinema's Korea Diaries] "Chuncheon" July 7th-9th

2016/07/29 | 451 views | Permalink

The Robot Studio is an annex to the Chuncheon Animation Museum, which I personally thought to be rather more informative. Though neither have histories written out in English, the history detailed at the Chuncheon Animation Museum mostly just deals with American animators whose stories I'd already heard before. Whereas the Robot Studio discusses lesser well known Japanese pop culture icons, like Tetsujin 28, aka Gigantor, asisstant to boy detective Shotaro, aka Jimmy. The American name changes were to help preserve the illusion that American invented all pop culture, everywhere.

Doraemon is another interesting case of a famous robot no one in the United States has heard of. Doraemon is a cat robot who travels back in time to aid a boy named Nobita. They have adventures, typically assisted by Doraemon future gadgets. There's a lot of them. This commemorative poster is from the twentieth (!) Doraemon movie. Which came out back in 1999. There are now thirty eight Doraemon movies (!!). That's not even getting in to all the TV shows.

...But aside from the history lessons the Robot Studio is mostly activaty oriented to a much greater extent than the Animation Museum, which as it happens make the site the better tourist destination for foreign travelers who don't speak Korean. There are several completely different forms of robot soccer, robot dancing, and simulations that don't necessarily have much to do with robots at all they're just fun for the sake of having fun.

Having visited Chuncheon it probably bears mentioning that this is the city where "Winter Sonata" was filmed, way back when. For all the supposed talk of a sequel, though, when I asked the guides at this travel office about the famed drama they just pointed me to a few old sets. This one, with its snow and its trees and its snowmen and the cut-outs of Bae Yong-joon and Choi Ji-woo seem to be mere relics of a bygone era. I was also told there were plans for a museum that apparently never came to fruition. I may be overestimating the state of disrepair, though. It stands to reason that "Winter Sonata" tourism might be more lively in the winter.

Another problem is that, aside from my guest house on the outskirts of town, I only really took a good look at the Chuncheon Animation Museum complex and the main part of the city. As it turns out there isn't all that much to the main part of the city, at least for this time of year. This is a common plaza being set up for a weekend event. The extent to which Chuncheon's animation industry has defined the city at large is self-evident in displays like these. New episodes of Cloud Bread stopped being produced several years ago  but all the same, characters from that cartoon can be seen advertising any number of various sites around the city.

Overall, though, the weather was so brutally hot during my visit to Chuncheon that I ended up spending most of my time just trying to take it easy at the Nabiya Guest House. One nice part about going to a guest house in the middle of nowhere is that there's no temptation to try and run out and do something just for the sake of doing something. This place even had hammocks. Hammocks! Now what's summer without a hammock?

More than that is the opportunity for quiet contemplation- being able to appreciate the wonder of nature as an ominous looking butterfly flutters down from above, trying to decide how hard to flap its wings among the flowers. By the way, that's what the guest house is named after- Nabi (나비) is the Korean word for butterfly.

Article by William Schwartz

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