Monthly Archives: March 2010

Buddhist culture Dongcheon-dong Gyeongju Ruins & remains Stories, legends & people Temples & shrines tips for tourists

The Four-sided Buddha of Gulbulsa Temple (굴불사)

Four-sided Buddha of Gulbulsa, Gyeongju

Four-sided Buddha of Gulbulsa, Gyeongju

Just a few blocks down from City Hall in Dongcheon-dong is one of the lesser known historical gems in Gyeongju, the four-sided Buddha of  Gulbulsa Temple (굴불사).  The original Shilla era structures of Gulbulsa are long gone, but remaining is a striking four-sided Buddha, or samyeonseokbul (사면석불), chiseled out of a large boulder.  In fact, it’s the legend behind this carved rock that gave the temple it’s curious moniker: Gulbulsa, or “Digging Buddha Temple.” read more »

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Buddhist culture Dongcheon-dong Gyeongju Shamanism Stories, legends & people Temples & shrines

Ichadon (이차돈) Continued

Martyrdom of Ichadon, Baegyulsa Temple

Martyrdom of Ichadon, Baegyulsa Temple

My wife and I went out for a short hike yesterday on Mt. Geumgansan (금강산) to get some exercise and enjoy a bit of the Spring weather.  As I’d just posted on the legend of of Ichadon (이차돈), I figured we’d take walk up to Baegyulsa Temple (배귤사), which was built on the spot where his head supposedly landed.   As we were walking past the temple bell, didn’t I notice that it had a cast relief image of Ichadon with his head flying off!  I’m posting it here for curiosity’s sake.  As Baegyulsa Temple deserves a whole post of it’s own, I’ll have more info on it up here soon (I hope). read more »

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Buddhist culture Gyeongju Shamanism Stories, legends & people Temples & shrines tombs

Shilla Legend: The Martyrdom of Ichadon (이차돈)

Execution of Ichadon, Heungnyeungsa Temple

Execution of Ichadon, Heungnyeungsa Temple

If you visit enough Buddhist temples here in Korea, you might come across some pretty gnarly scenes painted on the sides of these hollowed halls, such as the gothic  tortures of the Hell Realms or the gruesome image of the 2nd Patriarch of Zen, or Seon (선) Buddhism, chopping off his left arm (but more on that fun stuff later).

Every so often you might see the macabre tableaux of the execution of the Korean Buddhist martyr Ichadon (이차돈).   Although he wasn’t the first Buddhist to lose his head during the Shilla Dynasty, it was the legendary miracle of his execution that finally led to Buddhism’s official acceptance by the Shilla Kingdom. read more »

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Korean culture links News Outside Gyeongju shopping websites

Even More Links

It’s been a while since I’ve updated the links here on Gyeongjublog, so here’s a quick run down on sites I’ve run across lately that are worth checking out. To kick things off, it seems the KTO’s (Korean Tourism Organization) got a new interactive map of Korea  that kicks Google Map’s butt. It looks prettier, has more information, and most importantly: it’s in English! Unfortunately, you can’t do cool things with it like plot your hiking routes on it or imbed it in your website, so I guess I’ll be sticking with Google Maps here for a little while longer.

For a lot of Westerners Feng Shui, or Pungsu-jiri (풍수지리) in Korean, ranks right up there with fan death and acid rain causing baldness. For most Koreans, however, it governs matters as serious as where to bury your parents and wheather or not Seoul’s colonial era City Hall should be demolished. Whether you’re a believer or a skeptic, David Mason has a fascinating page on the history and basic concepts governing Korean Pungsu-jiri . It’s part of his broader website: san-shin.org , which is so cool that I’ll be giving it a more indepth review here shortly. read more »

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Arts & crafts Downtown Gyeongju Korean culture shopping tips for tourists

Phoenix Street of Traditional Culture (봉황로)

Phoenix Street of Traditional Culture, Downtown Gyeongju

Phoenix Street of Traditional Culture, Downtown Gyeongju

With the KTX slated to start running to Gyeongju by next Winter(fingers crossed), there’s been a lot of hustle and bustle around town lately  If you’re local you may have noticed there’s been a lot of construction downtown over this last year.  Seems the city decided to give a serious makeover to the pottery and antiques street, just a block over from McDonalds and Baskin Robbins. read more »

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Bomun-dong Festivals Gyeongju Hwangnam-dong Sites to see tips for tourists tombs

Cherry Blossom (벚꽃) Season in Gyeongju

Cherry Blossoms, Banwolseong Palace, Gyeongju

Cherry Blossoms, Banwolseong Palace, Gyeongju

Since I’ve been on the topic of festivals lately, I thought I’d post on this one BEFORE it happened for a change.  It’s not an official festival really, but with Spring looming on the horizon, we’re just a couple of weeks away from cherry blossom season.  Gyeongju, along with Jinhae further south, is one of the best places to go in Korea to frolic amongst the fairyland wonder of the blossoming cherry trees.   The problem is, everyone seems to know it.  If you’re coming down for a visit to check out the blossoms, I highly suggest taking the train.  Folks have been known to get stuck in traffic jams for hours.  read more »

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Buddhist culture Gyeongju restaurants tips for tourists

Restaurant Review #9: Baru (바루) Vegetarian Restaurant

Baru Vegetarian Restaurant, Gyeongju

Baru Vegetarian Restaurant, Gyeongju

Being a vegetarian in Korea can be rough. I, myself, am an omnivore, but I’ve got enough vegetarian friends here that I can sympathize. There just aren’t a lot of vegetarian options in Korea.  Like with a lot of countries who’ve recently come out of poverty, vegetarianism seems counter intuitive to most Koreans.   Since you can actually afford to eat meat 3 meals a day, why shouldn’t you?  It doesn’t help that a lot of Koreans don’t really consider fish or seafood to be meat.  You might’ve ordered that jjigae (찌개), or stew, with out meat, only to find a fish head floating in it when it gets to your table. read more »

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Dongcheon-dong Festivals Gyeongju Hwangnam-dong Korean culture tips for tourists

Daeboreum (대보름) Full Moon Bonfire Festival

Daeboreum Full Moon Bonfire Festival, Gyeongju

Daeboreum Full Moon Bonfire Festival, Gyeongju

After living in Spain for two years, I’ve come to love any festival involving fire. Maybe it’s my inner pyromaniac, or the fact that burning things is generally illegal in my country. It seems the Spanish can’t have a festival without fireworks, bonfires, or setting something or other on fire… and the Spanish have a LOT of festivals

The Koreans on the other hand save up their pyromania over the year and let it out in one big blast on Daeboreum (대보름) or literally “The Great Full Moon” Festival. Going by the lunar calendar, Daeboreum is the first full moon of the New Year, 15 days after Seollal (설날) or “Lunar New Years.” There are a lot of traditions and customs associated with Daeboreum, like climbing mountains to see the moonrise, eating ogokbap (오곡밥) or healthy 5 grain rice, or cracking nuts with your teeth to guarantee good health in the New Year (probably a big hit with the dentists). read more »

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Gyeongju Ruins & remains Stories, legends & people tips for tourists

Anapji Pond (안압지) by Night

Anapji Pond (안압지) by Night

Anapji Pond (안압지) by Night

Probably my top pick of things to do when visiting Gyeongju is to go for a walk around Anapji Pond (안압지) at night. Sure, Anapji’s worth checking out during the day, but when the sun goes down it really blings. The city’s done a great job with lighting, though some might say its a bit on the tacky side. But hey, I’m a sucker for pretty lights, so I love it. It’s great for a romantic stroll with your significant other. Or, if you’re into photography, bring your camera and a tripod and score some great night shots. I wouldn’t recommend doing both at the same time though, just ask my wife ;-) read more »

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