Category Archives: Gyeongju

Bomun Resort East Sea Gyeongju tips for tourists Wierd Gyeongju

Wierd Gyeongju: Dinosaur Village Herb Land (허브랜드공룡마을) and Gyeongju Herb Land (경주허브랜드)

Dinosaur Village Herb Land, Gyeongju

Dinosaur Village Herb Land, Gyeongju

Just like Teddy Bear Museums, “Herb Lands” have been of popping up around Korea lately in all the tourist hotspots.  And somehow, also just like Teddy Bear Museums, Gyeongju is blessed with not just one but two of these so-called Herb Lands. If you aren’t quite sure what a Herb Land is, its kind of like a cross between your local garden center and a miniature golf course. Or better yet, try imagining an amusement park without any actual roller coasters or rides. If that sounds kind of lame, then you’ve probably already guessed that Gyeongju’s Herb Lands are not really on my list of must-see local highlights and I wouldn’t really recommend them to anyone visiting just for a short weekend. However, for visitors who possess a warped appreciation of cheesy tourist traps, or have children under 10 years old, Gyeongju’s Herb Lands are a perfect fit.  Luckily for me, I have both, so it was only natural that we would eventually pay them a visit. read more »

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Gyeongju Hotels and housing Korean culture tips for tourists

Housing: Stay Overnight in One of Gyeongju’s “Goteak” Traditional Houses (경주 고턕체험)

Seoak Seowon, Seondo-dong, Gyeongju

Seoak Seowon, Seondo-dong, Gyeongju

If you’re one of those intrepid travelers who enjoy staying in unique or unusual accommodations, then I definitely recommend spending the night in one of the “Gyeongju Goteak” traditional houses during your visit.  The Gyeonjgu Goteak program was established a few years ago by the Ministry of Employment and Labor as a creative effort to help pay for the upkeep of a number of local historical buildings by renting them out as housing for visiting tourists.   Currently run by the Silla Cultural Institute (신라문화원), Gyeognju Goteak offers housing at five or six different historical “hanuk” style houses in the Gyeongju area, most of which are several hundred years old.  Although, I’ve not actually stayed in any of these places myself, I visit a number of them frequently as they’re quite scenic and are worth visiting even if you’re not staying the night.  In addition to providing unique and photogenic lodgings, a stay in one of the Gyeognju Goteak also includes complementary cultural activities, such as a tea ceremony and traditional arts and crafts. read more »

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Downtown East Sea Geumcheok-ri Gyeongju history Hwangnam-dong Korean culture photography Ruins & remains Stories, legends & people tombs

“From Fusan to Wonsan by Pack-pony” by Rev. H. O. T. Burkwall: A Turn of the Century Missionary’s Travelogue of Gyeongju

Old Photo of Silla-era Royal Tombs, Gyeongju

Old Photo of Silla-era Royal Tombs, Gyeongju

In the course of my Masters research, I’ve sometimes run across interesting tidbits of Gyeognju history that are completely off-topic which I file away for future blog posts.  Here is one such tidbit: a brief  travelogue written by perhaps one of the earliest westerners to visit Gyeongju; the awesomely-named missionary Rev. H. O. T. Burkwall.  Rev. Burkwall’s account was printed in the January 1903 edition of the “Korea Review” (pp. 18 – 22).  The “Korea Review” appears to be one of the earliest English-language academic journals devoted to Korean culture, history, religion and literature and was published between 1901 and 1905 by the Methodist Publishing House in Seoul.  For those interested, .pdf files of the whole 5 year run of the “Korea Review” are currently hosted online by Royal Asiatic Society of Korea. read more »

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Gyeongju tips for tourists

Gyeongju Google Maps Finally Go High-Resolution


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I may be the only person in Korea to get excited over this, but as I was finishing up my last post, I noticed that Google Maps has finally upgraded the quality of their maps and satellite images of Gyeongju.    For years I have been muttering curses over Google’s pitifully lousy low-resolution satellite images of Gyeongju and I’d like to think that somebody in the offices of Google Korea finally realized that a major tourist destination like Gyeongju deserved better.  But in reality, it looks like the improvements are part of a broader, and long overdue, overhaul of Google Maps.    Google’s satellite views of Gyeongju are now way sharper than before and you can actually make out the details of important historical landmarks, like Cheongmacheong Observatory and Anapji Pond.  It also looks like Google has given their actual maps an upgrade and now lists street names in both Hangul and Romanized Korean, which is handy.  These upgrades should be a huge help to foreign visitors as well as Google’s lagging market-share in S. Korea….. maybe. read more »

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Arts & crafts Gyeongju history Ruins & remains tombs

The Tou (토우): Mysterious Burial Figurines of the Early Silla Dynasty

Tou Figurines (image from heritagechannel.tv)

Tou Figurines (image from heritagechannel.tv)

If you take a stroll down the Bonhwang-ro street of traditional crafts and culture in downtown Gyeongju, you’ll probably notice a series of odd-looking stone sculptures depicting amorphous animals and lumpy  people with exceedingly large genitalia.  You’d probably be forgiven for assuming the city government has wasted the local taxpayers’ money on some abstract and tasteless public art.  In reality, these odd sculptures are actually enlargements of several “Tou” (토우); miniature clay figurines made during the Silla peoples in the 4th and 5th centuries.  These figures actually served funerary vessels and were unearthed from early Silla tombs by the hundreds and they now make up one of the more interesting permanent exhibitions at the Gyeongju National Museum. read more »

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Blog News Downtown East Sea Gyeongju Gyo-dong News Ruins & remains Temples & shrines

Blog Reboot Summer 2013

Gyo-dong Folk Village, Gyeongju

Gyo-dong Folk Village, Gyeongju

To start off my first post in almost a year, I’d like to apologize to all those folks who’ve posted comments and questions to this blog over the last several months.  I’ve basically been busy as hell this last year, so I hope to breath a second wind into the blog here over the next few months (time willing).  Over this last year, I’ve written the first draft of my thesis for my Masters in Buddhist Studies which, incidentally, involves research into the Silla  Kings Beopheung and Jinheung.  Also, I’ve coauthored a three part series on Gyeognju’s Mt. Namsan (click here to read part 2 and part 3) for the Jogye Order’s English language quarterly, Buddhism and Culture, plus an academic article surveying the life and work of the famed Silla monk, Ven. Wonhyo.  As of last February I changed both my job and  MA program.  Most importantly, however, this last March our second son was born, so everything non-essential has gotten pushed to the side since then.  I hope all the commentors that I’m just now getting back to would be so kind as to forgive this weary grad student, teacher and father for the late reply. read more »

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Buddhist culture East Sea Gyeongju hiking history Stories, legends & people Temples & shrines tips for tourists

Going to the River: Girimsa Temple (기림사) and Yongyeonpokpo Waterfalls (용연폭포)

Yongyeonpokpo Waterfalls, Girimsa Temple, Gyeongju

Yongyeonpokpo Waterfalls, Girimsa Temple, Gyeongju

About a month ago a friend on on Facebook asked where around Gyeongju you can “go to the river.”  Unfortunately I’ve been a bit distracted with writing my Master’s thesis over the last month, but I hope to post on a few places to “go to the river” around here while there’s still some of the summer left. There are actually a number of nice swimming holes and lovely picnicking spots by the rivers around Gyeongju which we go to almost every weekend, if the weather’s nice. read more »

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Cycling Routes Gyeongju history Ruins & remains Sites to see Statues & carvings Temples & shrines tips for tourists

Gyeongju Cycling Courses and Maps

Gyeongju Cycling Map

Gyeongju Cycling Map

Gyeongju is really a great place for cycling.  The countryside around Gyeongju is fairly flat and dozens of cement farm roads weave their way through scenic rice paddies and rustic villages.  Cycling’s also the fastest way to visit the dozens of ancient Silla tombs, temples, relics and ruins scattered outside of the city.  Not to mention, you can rent bikes for the day at both the train and bus stations and the bikes are usually in fairly decent shape too.   When I first started this blog I’d planned on posting a lot more on different cycling routes in the area.  Unfortunately, aside from one or two early posts, that never really happened.  To be honest, I’ve probably been on a bike once since my son was born two years ago (a sad fact I hope to soon change). read more »

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Buddhist culture Events Festivals Gyeongju holidays Statues & carvings Temples & shrines videos

Video: Buddha’s Birthday at Bulguksa, Tongdosa and Sinseonsa Temples

 

Since we’ve been on the topic of Buddha’s Birthday lately, I thought I’d post a few HD videos shot at a few of the Buddhist temples around Gyeongju this year on Buddha’s Birthday, aka Seokga Tansinil (석가탄신일). Rob Fioretta, my coworker at Gyeongju University, was kind enough to share with me the video he took of the lantern parade at Gyeongju’s famous and historical Bulguksa (불국사) Temple that night. The lantern parade on Buddha’s Birthday is my favorite time to visit Bulguksa (in fact, it’s one of the few times it’s not filled with hoards of screaming school kids and bus tours) and the atmosphere there is very magical. I’ve been three times since I moved to Gyeongju, though I haven’t shot any new video since 2008. The quality of that old video is pretty lo-fi, so thanks Rob for the update ;-) read more »

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Buddhist culture Events Festivals Gyeongju hiking history holidays photography Statues & carvings Temples & shrines tips for tourists

Buddha’s Birthday at Sinseonsa (신선사) Temple on Mt. Danseoksan (단석산)

Miruk Grotto at Sinseonsa Temple, Mt. Danseoksan, Gyeongju

Miruk Grotto at Sinseonsa Temple, Mt. Danseoksan, Gyeongju

Like many things in Gyeongju, I’ve been meaning to write about Mt. Danseoksan for a while, but I’ve been too busy to get around to it.  However, celebrating Buddha’s Birthday, or Seokga Tansinil (석가탄신일), yesterday at the ancient stone grotto of Mirukgul (미룩굴) on Mt. Danseokan has given me the best reason I’m probably going to get.  Located about 10 km south-west of Gyeongju City, Mt. Danseoksan is officially part of Gyeongju National Park and is famous for its history, legends and natural beauty.  Literally meaning “Split Rock Mountain,” Mt. Danseoksan is, in fact, named after one such ancient story involving the famed Silla general Kim Yu-sin. read more »

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