Creeped Out in the Spider Museum of Namyangju, Korea

During Chuseok:

IMG_2542the Korean Thanksgiving, after swimming in the Han River near Gapyeong, we showered off and headed to quite an odd little place. Up a winding mountain road, past elderly hikers and tiny houses, we found it: Spider Museum!

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IMG_5675Yeah, I know. That’s a big dong. But it was in the parking lot and the first thing we saw.

It turned out the man collecting the tickets (7$ per person) was also the doctor, designer, and arachnid loving founder of the place called, Arachnopia. His pictures were all over, prominently displaying his prestigious position in the world of entomology. Hershey dog accompanied us, but had to wait outside as we entered the living spider area. An eager young man immediately placed this beauty upon us.

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IMG_2539We were both scared at first and then his little fuzzy legs started to feel comforting in a way. The man described the spider thusly: “She’s a good girl.” We moved down the line and saw dozens of varieties of tarantulas, bugs, turtles, and assorted weirdlings. He fed the alligator turtle a bit of food and the snap of his mouth sounded like a door caught in a gust of wind. But, check out these caged critters.

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IMG_5684Leaving the poor, sad creatures trapped in the small boxes aside, we moved onto the poor, dead creatures in smaller boxes. It is a training area for budding university students, so expect plenty of formaldehyde.

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IMG_5700It was impressive to see all these skin-crawling nightmares so well contained and preserved. It gave me a perverse pleasure to look upon these eerie symbols of dread. In our early evolution, spider bites could be incapacitating, or at times, a death sentence. We have been “conditioned” to fear them, more than a fly or a needle from mostly a survival instinct. Therefore, if you’re not at least a little scared of them, you’re probably an alien.

We moved outside as a light drizzle began to fall through the dusk. The bugs were hunting us in the warm, humid air. There is a little research bubble to view spider anatomy, a playground park with a haunting abandoned pool and also a cool statue area. We played a little then ran away from the mozzies.

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Dr. Kim Ju-Pil is  immortalized behind this massive spider. We left with goosebumps and a little wiser about our spider “frenemies.”

On the slow drive back to the highway, we caught a glimpse of the golden rice of early autumn, before finishing the day with some grilled eel.

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