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1950-1970: Korean summers remembered

For this next month, the online portal for the National Archives of Korea, which is operated by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, will be featuring a collection of photos and videos that give a glimpse into summertime in Korea during the 1950s to 1970s.

Haeundae Beach in Busan was as popular a destination for summer travelers and vacationing families in 1973 (left) as it is today (right) (photos courtesy of the National Archives of Korea and Haeundae-gu Office). Haeundae Beach in Busan was as popular a destination for summer travelers and vacationing families in 1973 (left) as it is today (right) (photos courtesy of the National Archives of Korea and Haeundae-gu Office).


The 30 pieces in the media collection depict typical summer scenes in Korea’s recent history. Captured on film are vacationing families flocking to nearby mountains, rivers, creeks, and beaches in search of respite from the sweltering heat of Sambok, or the three hottest days in Korea according to the lunar calendar. Despite the difficult lifestyles of most Koreans in the decades following the war, the images of families enjoying summer leisure and taking breaks together from their work are not too different from the kind of enjoyment that is seen in the present day.

Left: A photo shows farmers working in a watermelon field in Chungju, Chungcheongbuk-do in 1959. Right: A train with a logo image of the ocean takes summer travelers to their vacation destinations in 1968 (photos courtesy of the National Archive of Korea). Left: A photo shows farmers working in a watermelon field in Chungju, Chungcheongbuk-do in 1959. Right: A train with a logo image of the ocean takes summer travelers to their vacation destinations in 1968 (photos courtesy of the National Archive of Korea).


The collection shows footage from the late 1950s of junior high to college-aged student volunteers heading to the countryside to help rural families with their farming, provide free medical services, and teach local children. One scene from this time shows people crowded by the Han River for a community event of the kind that was held to offer consolation in the form of entertainment and performances to the citizens of the still-recovering country.

Left: A new outdoor pool for children opens in Seoul in 1960. Right: Seoulites cool off from the summer heat at an outdoor pool by the Han River in 2010 (photos courtesy of the National Archives of Korea and Hangang Park Office). Left: A new outdoor pool for children opens in Seoul in 1960. Right: Seoulites cool off from the summer heat at an outdoor pool by the Han River in 2010 (photos courtesy of the National Archives of Korea and Hangang Park Office).


Scenes from the 1960s show families gathered for the opening of a children’s pool in Seoul, the trains that whisked people off to their vacation destinations, zoo animals lounging through record temperatures, and a group of policemen outfitted in summer uniforms to perform patrols of Ttukseom along the Han River. Scenes from the 1970s show a group of female college students volunteering in the fields and another performing Jeonseon Arirang for locals in a country village as part of a cultural education program.

A temporary shelter (left) is set up in Gyeongsangnam-do (South Gyeongsang Province) following heavy rains in 1958. In 1959, a civil society organization (right) prepares to deliver aid to areas affected by Typhoon Sarah (photos courtesy of the National Archives of Korea). A temporary shelter (left) is set up in Gyeongsangnam-do (South Gyeongsang Province) following heavy rains in 1958. In 1959, a civil society organization (right) prepares to deliver aid to areas affected by Typhoon Sarah (photos courtesy of the National Archives of Korea).


Also included in the collection are videos and images of efforts to address the flooding from heavy summer rains, include the opening of a temporary shelter and delivery of supplies for displaced families in areas affected by Typhoon Sarah in 1959.

“We hope that the archives will provide an informative look into our past and a fun distraction from the summer heat,” said Song Gwi-gun, president of the National Archives of Korea.

Adapted from Gonggam Korea
By Kwon Jungyun
Korea.net Staff Writer

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