The UOS Times
23-year old Seoulite Kim, Exploring Berlin
Kim Jung-gon  |
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[150호] 승인 2019.03.25  
트위터 페이스북 네이버 구글

Traveler Kim has lived all of his life in Seoul. Although he is an urbanite, he has never travelled to Europe. Nevertheless, he felt inspired to travel to Berlin. With three stories combined with information about the transit system and tourist attractions of Berlin (plus one special place), let us trace Seoulite Kim’s Berlin journey.

Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie

Walking straight on the Friedrichstraße?(Friedrich Street, in English) for about 10 minutes, he found a small checkpoint in the middle of the street. This attraction is quite symbolic of the Cold War, the period when Berlin was divided into East and West. East and West Berlin were separated by two important landmarks: the Berlin Wall and this checkpoint. Although German reunification was achieved 30 years ago, the Soviet Union flag and the stamp of East Germany still remain. At this place, a man wearing a duty uniform stamped six seals from the 1970s in Traveler Kim’s passport. After paying 5 EUR, Traveler Kim decided to explore more historical attractions in Berlin.

Bike Trip to A Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Bike rental stop similar to Ttarung-e in Seoul

Before renting a bike, Traveler Kim remembered the advice of Oh Ye-Chan that he had received the day before: “It is crucial for riders to make a hand gesture. If drivers would like to turn left, they have to make a signal with their left arm extended. Therefore, make a hand gesture so you can ride anywhere regardless of automobile traffic.” Taking into consideration this advice, he borrowed a bicycle. After activating the city’s bike service, Kim headed for the Brandenburg Gate.??What he found interesting was that every vehicle strictly observed bicycle rider hand signs. With the help of hand signs, traveler Kim could safely continue to cycle.

Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburg Gate similar to Gwanghwamun in Korea

A emblematic gate where the Berlin Wall divided East and West. Established in 1791, this gate was an indispensable ceremonial arch representing German or Prussian army triumphs in war until the 19th century. Demolished during WW2 and re-established in 1958, this gate represents one of few remaining landmarks that was located near the Berlin Wall before it was demolished.

Memorial park with rainy, gloomy, and full of silence atmosphere

After visiting to the Brandenburg Gate, he found a place with a lot of stelae. The atmosphere in this place was silent and a bit heavy. On every floor nearby the entrance, it cautioned visitors not to jump from one stele to another, not to bring any pets and not to bring a bicycle inside the place. As soon as he saw these regulations, he parked and locked the bike where it was permitted. He noted that the name of the place was the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and he walked along one of 13 pathways calmly. Although he could not identify with the 6 million deceased Jews from the Holocaust that occurred during World War II (WW2), he prayed for all of them to rest in peace. Many columns surrounded him while he was in the center of this memorial park. Dark, gloomy, and somber moods all seemed to represent the melancholy history of this era.

Trams and U Bahn: Berlin Wall Memorial Park

U Bahn bound for Al-Tegel

A tram about to arrive at the stop

Taking the U55 train and passing two stations, traveler Kim transferred to the tram. In Europe, or at least in Berlin, the tram is an extremely popular method of transportation. It is almost the same as the subway train, except that the validation boxes are located inside. Kim took another ticket out of his pocket and validated it. On the way to his destination, he discovered some embarrassing things. There was no information on display and all the announcements were only in German. Furthermore, the announcements were not repeated. Thus, he had to verify his location using a mobile map.

After passing seven stops, Kim reached the Berlin Wall Memorial Park. As soon as he exited the tram, gloomy weather greeted him and he encountered heavy rain. Walking along a sidewalk, he could see some scribbles on the wall. These graffiti marks appeared to look like memorable sections of the Berlin Wall. After jaunting ahead for another 15 minutes, he finally found the Berlin Wall Memorial Park. Inside this small-scale park, two outer walls coexisted and traces of the internal conflicts that divided Berlin into East and West could be seen. Furthermore, the height of these walls seemed to be more than twice Kim’s height. Many walls in Europe are scribbled and colored with paintings; the Berlin Walls, however, are painted vividly with pictures, quotations, wishes for reunification, and criticism of the Social Nationalists’ past history. Since 1989, when Germany achieved reunification, the 40-kilometer-long wall has only persisted for a few miles, but these historic attractions instilled some lessons for Asian people who are still experiencing the “scars of partition,”

Berlin wall coexisting the broken part with the remains

Such a rainy and gloomy weather! It was enough for him to empathize dark history of Cold War era. However, as time went on, rain streak tapered off. It seemed as if bleak past became brighter. And then, a sun came out from cloud and cozy sunshine made his heart feel warm.

Kim Jung-gon

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