Sunday would prove to be as epic as our adventurous Saturday. As soon as we were fed and caffeinated, we hit the road to the city of Naju. Mr.Urbexpat and I showed our significant others what we have discovered during our explorations of the city. It was mostly a trip to check-in on old spots, but it was my first time to get into this abandoned a-frame church. Settled on the top of a hill, the church overlooks the local river and provides a spectacular view of the surrounding area. This unique building piqued our interest during a previous outing in Naju. We couldn’t determine if it was abandoned or still in use. We didn’t invest enough time to infiltrate. We half-hearted tried to slide the door open and, at the slightest resistance, moved on.
A year later, the ever-so-determined Mr.Urbexpax, pulls harder on the door and discovers a Moonies church. For those who don’t know, Moonies are members of the Unification Church and revere the teachings of Rev. Moon Sun Myung. The church is known for its mass arranged weddings called “The Holy Marriage Blessing Ceremony.”
Here I am walking myself down the aisle.
Just down the hill is what I called at the time, the Japanese Colonial Temple. It sits idly beneath the Moonies Church. From what I gather, this was a simple Japanese colonial-era house that eventually became a Korean Buddhist temple. While there has been a lot of renovations done to modernize the building, it’s past still peeks on through. It’s the building form of an old dude with an awful toupee.
As we approached, it became apparent some others had visited, forgetting to close the door. Much remained the same, but the stupa was missing! It also appears people had been tilling the land. Maybe squatter farmers are reclaiming the unused plot?
Otherwise, it looked the same inside. The remnants of the altar room were in the right place.
Onwards to the old movie theater! This is another old building that doesn’t show its age too well unless you look at the right places. Another terrible toupee building. The only reason we know it’s an old theater is the murals commemorating the history of the site.
While murals can be charming, it doesn’t capture the building in its essence. I assume this building was renovated on a budget with no thought of historic preservation. The bottom line was about having a functional space for business. Much like the Japanese house/temple featured earlier, the theater show’s its age at the top.
On this day, I finally gathered up the nerve to find a way in, despite loads of tourists walking around the area. I took a moment and heaved my way up into a gap in the roof. I was really intrigued by what I might find inside. Did it retain the look of an old Japanese era movie theater? Nope, not one bit. At some point, it was turned into a nightclub/karaoke bar. I saw what I wanted to see. With my curiosity sated, Mr.Urbexpat helped direct me to a more accessible way out, and we were on our way to the next destination for some bowling. On the way, we stopped at a colonial-era train tunnel and met this dude. Before my wife and I caught the KTX home, we checked in on our old friend, the Quaint Zone. It was one of the first places I had ever done urban exploration and reminds me of the fond times living on my friend’s couch in the late fall and early winter of 2014-15. Exploring in the Korean countryside is a lot different than urban exploration in Seoul. Places like this and the abandoned universities I’ve had the pleasure to investigate further south are the closest we have to Japanese style haikyo. In an urban setting, abandoned places don’t have much time before they are knocked down.
As the day began to set, our party had some victory food at a hip and sleek cafe near the train station. I was impressed by their reading selection.