Monthly Archives: December 2009

Bulguk-dong Gyeongju Statues & carvings Stories, legends & people

The Legend of Asadal (아사달) and Asanyeo (아산여)

The Legend of Asadal and Asanyeo (exterior of "Asadal" bar in Gyeongju)

If you’ve had the pleasure of visiting Bulguksa temple (불국사), you’ve probably admired the twin masterpieces of Seokgatap (석가탑) and Dabotap (다보탑) pagodas in the main courtyard (if you haven’t yet, Dabotap is on the face side of the 10 won coin).  What you may not have known is that there is a tragic legend of Shakespearean proportions tied to these pagodas.  In fact, it’s this legend that’s given them their nicknames of Yongtap, or “Shadow Pagoda”, and Muyongtap, or “No Shadow Pagoda.” read more »

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Other Outside Gyeongju Statues & carvings

Prehistoric Carvings of Cheonjeon-ri (천전리 각석)

Prehistoric Carvings of Cheonjeon-ri (천전 리각석)

After four and a half years living in Gyeongju, we finally decided to get a car last week.  So for it’s first road trip, my friend and I set off  to check out the prehistoric rock carvings of  Cheonjeon-ri (천전 리각석). I’d never been there before and they’re only about 20 minutes south of Gyeongju, just off of  N.R. 35. read more »

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Downtown Food & drink Gyeongju restaurants tips for tourists

Restaurant Review #4: Cheonghakdong (청학동) BBQ Duck Restaurant

Healthy Pumpkin Rice, Cheonghakdong (청학동) Restaurant

If you’re into Korean food but you’re tired of the chain restaurants downtown or student samgyeopsal (삼겹살) joints in Seonggeon-dong, there’s a little road running between the two that’s probably just what you need.  On a 3 block strip there are about 20 Korean restaurants and I haven’t been disappointed yet by any I’ve been to.  They serve everything from hoe  (회) or “raw fish”, Chueotang (추어탕) or “mudfish soup”, bossam (보쌈) or “steamed pork”,  to blowfish (복) and yeongyangtang (영양탕) or “dog soup”. read more »

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Buddhist culture News Outside Gyeongju Temples & shrines

Hyangiram Hermitage (향일암) Lost in Fire

Hyangiram Hermitage Fire (from Joongang Daily)

Hyangiram Hermitage Fire (from Joongang Daily)

I heard some rather sad news when I got home today.  It seems that Hyangiram (향일암), literally “Sunrise Hermitage”, in Yeosu burned down last night.  I used to live in Gwangyang, near Yeosu and first visited Hyangiram back in ’02.    I’ve been there twice since and I think it is (or sadly was) one of the coolest places I’ve been to in Korea. read more »

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Buddhist culture Gyeongju Gyo-dong restaurants Temples & shrines tips for tourists

Nakch’eonwon Temple (낙천원사)

2 Story Buddha, Nakch’eongwon Temple

2 Story Buddha, Nakch’eonwon Temple

If you look South-East from the ruins of Banwolseong fortress towards Mt. Namsan, you might see something a bit curious.  Just across the Namcheon River in the little neighborhood of Gyo-dong is huge gold Buddha.  It’s seated in the front courtyard of Nakch’eonwonsa (낙천원사), or literally “Optimistic Moon Temple.”  It’s probably one of the newest temples in Gyeongju and if you’re out exploring area and got the time, it’s well worth checking out. read more »

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Gyeongju Gyo-dong Sites to see Stories, legends & people tips for tourists

Ancestral Home of the Choe Clan (최씨고탁)

Home of the Choe Clan

Home of the Choe Clan

Just 5 minutes around the corner from Cheomseondae Observatory is the historical neighborhood of Hwangnam-dong.  Tucked between the tombs and the river, Hwangnam-dong is a small neighborhood but it’s got a number of interesting places worth checking out.   It’s getting a face lift at the moment since they’re turning the entire place into a folk village as well as rebuilding the ancient Woljeonggyo (월정교) bridge across the river. read more »

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Stories, legends & people websites

Links: The Hwarang (화랑) Warriors of the Shilla Dynasty

 

Hwarang Warrior (from wikipedia.org)

Hwarang Warrior (from wikipedia.org)

 

I was going to include this with my new links  post a few days back, but it was so cool I figured it need a posting of it’s own.   Last week I stumbled onto the official website of the Hwarang Do martial arts organization .  If you’ve read anything about the history of the Shilla Dynasty,  you probably ran across at least something about the Hwarang (화랑).

“Hwarang” literally means, “flower youth,” but these guys were the farthest thing from pansies.  The Hwarang were an elite body of aristocratic Shilla youth who trained in the arts military strategy and hand-to-hand combat.  They were also at the top of  Shilla  scholastics and  were well versed in Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, literature, poetry and even music and dance.  Many great figures from the mid to late Shilla period were Hwarang, like General Kim Yu-shin (김유신), who unified the 3 kingdoms, and the Buddhist saints Wonhyo  (원효) and Uisang (의상).

read more »

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Cycling Routes Gyeongju tips for tourists

Tips for Tourists: Cycling in Gyeongju

View West of Mt. Gumi & Mt. Geumgang

View West of Mt. Gumi & Mt. Geumgang

If you’re only in Gyeongju for a short time, definitely take a day to check out the big sights like, Bulguksa, Seokuram, Anapji Pond, etc. (Honestly, I’d give the Museum a miss, unless it’s raining).  But if you really want to experience what makes this city so cool, take an afternoon to hop on a bike and ride around the countryside. read more »

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websites

New Links

Being a new blog and all, I’ve been trying to flesh out the “Links” section of the site as it’s been looking a little sparse.  Here’s a short run down of some of the recent websites I’ve  post in my links.

My friend Paul at Dongguk Uni. has a pretty sweet photo blog called Adventure Dog Photography.  He ‘s got mad talent and posts new photos pretty regularly, usually from around Gyeongju.

I’ve got a weird thing for ancient megalithic monuments, called dolmen, erected by prehistoric peoples and Korea’s got a lot of them.  Here’s a funny little interactive website put up by Hwasun Dolmen Park in Jeollanam-do.  There are apparently some dolmen around Gyeongju that I’d like to check out some time. read more »

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