Nonsan is a city in Chungcheongnam-do. It is located at 36°12´N 127°5´E.
The city consists of villages and some outlying towns that have grown together. It's character is a mix of a rural mentality and small city, with high-rise apartment complexes scattered throughout. While small by Korean standards, Nonsan has a number of the amenities found in any Korean city. There are a few old houses in the traditional style - most are in disrepair. The population in 2003 was 136,356. There is a mid-sized university Konyang University (KYU), but it's influence only stretches as far as the small "campus town" that has grown up across from it's main entrance.
Nonsan feels like a large village, rather than a small city. The day begins slowly, and police seem to have little more to do than direct traffic at a few intersections while blowing their whistles. Peppers, rice, fruits, etc. are dried right on the sidewalk and in front of apartment stairwells as in other rural Korean locales. Children often giggle and call out a "How are you?" or some other memorized phrase when they happen upon a foreigner. Cars will occasionally stop in the middle of a fairly major street so that the drivers can say hello and talk about whatever. School-girls walk the streets even after ten at night, after finishing studying and eating out with friends - while suprising to some foreigners Nonsan is relativly safe. There are a large number of bars and other drinking establishments, but few instances of drunken behavior. A foreigner who overpays because of mistaking a price or coins or bills is almost certain to be corrected in a pleasant manner. Many stores stay open past 10pm, and it is not uncommon to find street-side stands open well past midnight.
Nonsan is an interesting mixture of clusters of modern high-rise appartments, small shops, gardens and even fields, and street-side stands. The streets are paved and clean and generally lined with paved or rubber-pebbled sidewalks with bike-lanes. Nonsan's main streets are mostly little more than silghtly inclined, though side streets can be as steep as five to maybe ten percent in rare cases. The city is surrounded by farms and ringed some-what more distantly with sylvan mountains. Trees and, in the spring and to a certain extent the summer and fall, are present on all but the most commercial stretches, so that the city looks green from street level and almost parklike from the hills or high apartment windows.
Apartments and a Field of Crops
Graffiti is quite rare. The streets are regularly cleaned, though piles of trash or recyclable furniture and other property can stay around for some time. Banners are hung to congratulate, celebrate, and advertise, adding to the colorful appearance of the streets.
Apartments behind rice fields
During the day, the vehicular traffic is constant, and the commercial streets - especially in the area around the traditional market have a constant flow of pedestrians. After nightfall, the pedestrain traffic starts to dwindle, so that by ten (around the time the larger stores close) it is thin except around schools and places to eat. By midnight, only the occasional pedestrian is seen on the sidewalks, while traffic is light.
The people going to and fro are of all ages but almost exclusively Korean. Clothing tends toward casual and work clothes. Some are underway because of work, but many seem to be strolling about. Children use bikes and buses, are driven by patterns, or walk, and are quite visible, wearing their school uniforms during the school year if they are old enough.
As soon as the traveller departs the train station, he is met by three sculptures, naturalistic and abstract.
The Nonsan Citizens Monument
There is an elephantine metal abstract sculpture in front of the stadium. This is the Symbolic monument of the Nonsan Citizens. The monument is a stylised bird symbolising the brining of good news and the city's charter. Viewers can walk underneath the sculpture to pray or quietly reflect.
Some abstract sculptures grace the KYU campus as well. Many of the burial areas in the hills of Nonsan have commercially made stone markers of various designs.
The cultural center has a small stone sculpture of some interest.
There are also many 장승 (jangseung: carved wooden figures) and simple small landscape paintings along some of the trails in the hills.
Five-Points is graced by a number of murals along the underpass walls.
There are a number of large engraved stones marking the foundation of various public buildings throughout Nonsan. These could also be considered public art.
Examples of jangseung around Nonsan:
Each of the original towns or villages that formed Nonsan has at least something of a commerical center, in some cases more than one.
The Northern most part of Nonsan bordered by the Nonsan Stream (논산천).
The main Post Office is located on Nonsan-si jang 3-gil (논산시장3길).
The older part of Nonsan's downtown. Police and Fire Stations are located on the intersection of Jungang 1-ro and Haewol-ro (중앙1로 and 해월로)
The traditional market, Nonsan Theatre (논산극장) and the Boutique shopping area are in this neighborhood.
Nonsan Station is in Banwol-dong.
Encompassing the North East of Nonsan The General Social Welfare Centre is located in this neighborhood.
In the East of Nonsan the Gwanchoksa temple, Nonsan Stadium (논산 공설운동장) and Chungcheongnam-do Physical Education High School are all located in this Neighborhood.
One of the larger residential neighborhoods in Nonsan containing Jae-il, J Park, A-ju, Nol-mui, Dong-shin and Canary apartment complexes among others.
Woori Home Mart and Hai Tai Mart are located in Nae-dong.
Nonsan City Hall (시장) is located in Nae-dong
The Cultural Center is located in the western part of this neighborhood.
The new part of Nonsan's downtown area, this neighborhood is undergoing an increase in development with 3 very large apartment complexes being built in the area behind the regional bus terminal(시외버스터미날).
Baekje Hospital (백제병원) is located in this Neighborhood.
In Nonsan's West Kansan-dong incorporates Buyeong, Dongshin and Changsol Apartment complexes as well as Kansan Park.
Daerim Apartments and St. Pauls private Catholic Girl's School.
The most Westward of Nonsan's neighborhoods contains Bonghwa-san Park.
- Spring does not break upon the town suddenly, but comes in fits and starts. Sometimes it is born on a west wind, bearing "yellow dust" (Hwangsa) from across the sea from China, lightly coating everything indoors and out. But after some point, the colors of spring burst upon the town, with an exaltation of flowers bringing great joy to the still shivering Nonsanites.
- Summer simmers the souls in sultry, sticky heat. The locals generally do not like summer, complaining of the heat and mugginess. Lethargy makes a go at many otherwise active individuals. Street-cleaners use large pincette-like trash pickers to keep the streets and sidewalks clean.
- Autumn slowly shoulders summer's heat out of the way toward the end of September. Although rains may fall, most days are characterized by clear skies, hot and then warm days with mild to chilly nights, until the cool days set in sometime in mid or late October. The cherry trees have long lost their leaves, lining some streets and roads like sullen soldiers, before the gingkos' leaves start turning to yellow and the persimmons shine like too early bright orange Christmas ornaments on too-old barren trees. The cosmos blossoms decorate many streetsides, while the streets themselves as well as the sidewalks are decked with rice grains drying on ribbons of plastic sheeting. Later, the rice will be packed into sacks waiting to be picked up and hauled away in flatbed trucks. For some time longer, the hills keep their green color, but the grass is decked with the yellow ginko leaves. Street cleaners have replaced their trash pickers with brooms, daily sweeping up the slowly accumulating leaves.
While there is a local Korean dialect, it is not dissimilar from standard Korean, which will be perfectly understood and is often spoken in Nonsan anyway.
Outside of the University and some professional offices, one comes across few people who can speak more than a few words in any language other than Korean. English is the most commonly understood, distantly followed by Japanese and Chinese (and perhaps German).
Even at the university, many students and staff can only communicate in Korean.
There are a number of private English Academies in Nonsan and English is taught in state schools. It is not uncommon for Elementary, Middle and even more adventurous High School students to attempt some sort of communication in English with a visitor, dependent on the student's ability.
The Symbol is designed to represent three elements: "Enterprise", "Future-Orientation" and the "Development of Nonsan through sound administration".
It incorporates the Hangul characters "ㄴ" and "ㅅ" - the first letters of Non and San into a diamond shape that is meant to imitate the local topography.
The upper blue portion symbolises the many mountains that surround Nonsan. The bottom green portion imitates the plentiful rice fields while the curve in the center represents the progessive future and development of the city.
Mandarin Duck (Korean precious natural animal No.327)
Businesses and Services
Fitness and Recreation
Restaurants and Bars
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