Monthly Archives: August 2010

Buddhist culture Food & drink guest writers Korean culture shopping

The Korean Way of Tea (다례) Part 2: The Ceremony

By Don Baumhart

Continued from Part 1…

Boseong Tea Plantation (from www.absoluteshinhwa.wordpress.com)

Boseong Tea Plantation (from www.absoluteshinhwa.wordpress.com)

Harvesting Tea

Unlike the powdered tea used in the Japanese tea ceremonies, the Korean ceremonies use loose leaf green tea. Traditionally, this tea is referred to as “Jakseol-cha” (작설차) which literally means as “sparrow’s tongue tea,” as the small curled leaves resemble the tongues of sparrows.  This “sparrow’s tongue” tea is well known for its exquisite flavor but, like everything involved the Korean tea ceremony, this depends a lot on timing. In his written guide to the tea ceremony, the 19th century monk Cho Ui (조의) noted that the flavor of the tea is adversely affected if the leaves are not picked at exactly the right time. It’s for this reason that Korean green tea is harvested in 4 different stages, which in turn determine the quality and thus the price of the tea.

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Buddhist culture East Sea Gyeongju history Stories, legends & people Temples & shrines videos

Video: Seonmudo (선무도) Demonstration

Last month my University asked me to help guide a tour of Korean-American students around Gyeongju for a day.  That afternoon we stopped by Golgulsa (골굴사) Temple for a short lesson in Seonmudo (선무도), or Korean Zen martial arts.  In all the times I’d been to Golgulsa, I’d never actually seen what Seonmudo actually is.  Luckily for us the monks gave a demonstration after the lesson and got to show off some of their top moves.  I had my handycam with me, so here’s a short 3 minute video of some of the highlights I’ve edited together. read more »

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Gyeongju history Stories, legends & people tips for tourists Top 10

Top 10 Kings of the Shilla Dynasty: Part 2

Continued from Part 1…..

Hwangnam Shilla Crown  (image from Gyeongju National Museum)

Hwangnam Shilla Crown (image from Gyeongju National Museum)

6.  King Munmu the Great (문무왕r. 661 – 681 C.E.):  King Munmu wasn’t dubbed “the Great” for nothing.  A nephew of the famed general Kim Yu-shin, Munmu was the Shilla Emperor responsible for finally defeating both the Beakjae and Gogoruyeo kingdoms (with some assistance from Tang China) and uniting the Korean peninsula under one flag in 668 C.E. (for which he built the pleasure Palace at Anapji Pond in commemoration).  If this fact alone didn’t already make him worthy or greatness, upon his death he ordered that his ashes be scattered in the East Sea (at present day Daereungwon) so his spirit could become a great dragon and defend the coast from marauding pirates and invaders. read more »

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Gyeongju history Stories, legends & people tips for tourists Top 10

Top 10 Kings of the Shilla Dynasty: Part 1

Poster for MBC's Historical Drama: Queen Seon Deok

Poster for MBC's Historical Drama: Queen Seon Deok

Okay, so maybe I’m going a bit gaga with this whole “Top 10” thing here, but it seems like a quick way to sift through a lot of information and hit a few key points in just a post or two.  In keeping with a method tried and true, here’s my personal top 10 list of the most important Shilla Dynasty Kings and Queens.  With over 56 to choose from, I’m sure I’ll be skipping some key players in the scheme of things.  But here, in chronological order, are some of the most legendary, powerful, innovative and eventually corrupt and tragic figures that made the millennium of the Shilla Dynasty what it was. read more »

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Gyeongju Namsan-dong Other Sites to see tips for tourists

Off the Beaten Path: The Gyeongsangbukdo Botanical Gardens (경상북도산림환경연구소)

Bonsai Tree, Botanical Gardens, Gyeongju

Bonsai Tree, Botanical Gardens, Gyeongju

In the eastern shadow of Mt. Namsan (남산), just a few minutes up the road from Tongiljeon Shrine (통일전), is one of the more unique tourist attractions in the area:  the Gyeongsangbuk-do Botanical Gardens (경상북도산림환경연구소).  Even though it has nothing to do with ancient tombs, stone Buddhas or the Shilla Dynasty, the Botanical Gardens are well worth a taking a few hours to explore.  With over 100 acres of woodlands, trails and gardens, it’s a great spot for a romantic walk or an afternoon picnic.  And if you’re traveling with kids, it’s the perfect place for them to run around and get some energy out.  It’s got enough curious attractions that they won’t get bored either. read more »

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Arts & crafts Bomun-dong Buddhist culture Downtown East Sea Food & drink Geumcheok-ri Gyeongju Gyo-dong hiking history Namsan-dong Outside Gyeongju Ruins & remains shopping Sites to see Statues & carvings Temples & shrines tips for tourists tombs Top 10

Itinerary: 10 Days in Gyeongju

Tongdosa Temple, South of Gyeongju

Tongdosa Temple, South of Gyeongju

Not to become a broken record or anything, but most tourists just bounce down to Gyeongju for a long weekend, hit up the big tourist sites, and head home Sunday night. It’s a shame really. You can barely even scratch the surface of what Gyeonju has to offer in 2 days. To finally prove what I’ve been harping on so long, I’ve cooked up a 10 day itinerary for visitors to Gyeongju. That’s right: over a week and a half of things to see and do in the area.  If you don’t have 10 days, feel free to pick and choose what suites your liking.  But here are some ideas for exploring a deeper side of Gyeongju and Korea as a whole. read more »

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