Category Archives: Ruins & remains

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The Juryeonggu (주령구): Party Dice of the Silla Royalty

Replica of Juryeonggu Dice (image from Yonhap News Agency)

Replica of Juryeonggu Dice (image from Yonhap News Agency)

Although I fancy myself a history buff, I can sometimes find the long halls of pottery shards and bronze daggers at the Gyeongju National Museuma to be bit repetitive and boring.  However, the Museum is also home to one iconic Silla artifact that is sure to squeeze a smile from any visitor, especially former frat boys or D & D enthusiasts.  During the excavation of Anapji Pond (안압지)  in the 1970’s, amidst all the roof tiles and gilt bronze Buddhas archeologists unearthed a wooden dice with 6 square and 8 hexagonal sides.  On each side of this curious object were inscribed in Chinese what appear to be instructions for a drinking game, earning the object the name Juryeonggu (주령구), or literally “drink command tool.” read more »

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“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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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 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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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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Gyeongju Videos on the Korean Heritage Channel

 

The other day I was rummaging around on Youtube for videos to fill out a playlist on Gyeongjublog’s fledgling Youtube Channel and I stumbled across some amazing videos on something called the Korean Heritage Channel.  I know I use far too many superlatives on this blog already, but this channel features some of the best promotional videos I’ve seen produced on Korea.   Some might say that’s wouldn’t be too difficult considering the schmaltzy overdubbed travel schlock typically broadcast on Arirang.  However these videos are of a different class entirely.  They’re each brief 2 to 3 minute long vignettes of rich HD footage tastefully edited together with traditional music and subtitled commentary.  read more »

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Slideshow: Autumn in Namsan-dong (남산동) Village

Muryangsa Temple, Namsan-dong, Gyeognju

Muryangsa Temple, Namsan-dong, Gyeognju

To be honest the Korean urban lifestyle doesn’t really do much for me.  Sure, I sometimes miss the art and culture, the night clubs and the convenience.  But after living in London, Berlin and Barcelona, there’s really not anything new that I get out of big cities in Korea.  All it takes is a walk through one of the many quaint and quiet farm villages near Gyeongju to remind me why I like living with the Korean countryside so close at hand.   One of my favorite places to visit is Namsan-dong (남산동);  a string of farming villages just 15 minutes outside of town tucked in the shadow of Gyeongju’s historic Mt. Namsan (남산). read more »

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Exploring the Mysteries of Mt. Nangsan (낭산)

Mt. Nangsan, Gyeongju

Mt. Nangsan, Gyeongju

If you’re visiting the Gyeongju National Museum and happen to look east over the highway you might notice the outline of a hill on the far side of the train tracks.  From the looks of it you wouldn’t guess this low ridge (often describe as looking like a silkworm) was in fact considered one of the most sacred mountains of the Shilla Dynasty. As such, it’s home to numerous ancient relics and features in a number of stories and legends from the Shilla Era. read more »

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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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My Gyeongju Top 10

I know it’s all the trend these days, but I figured it was about time I sat down and wrote out my personal top ten “to do” list for Gyeongju.  Some of these I’ve posted on already, and if I haven’t yet, I hope to soon. So here they are in brief; counting down from 10 to 1:

Bunghwangsa Temple, Gyeongju

Bunghwangsa Temple, Gyeongju

10. Take a walk around the ancient, 3-storied pagoda of Bunghwangsa (분황사) Temple when the fall leaves are changing. read more »

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