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Fall Events in Gyeongju: Temple Food, Hallyu Dreams, Liquor and Rice Cake, Marathons and more

Gyeongju Liquor and Rice Cake Festival, 2010

Gyeongju Liquor and Rice Cake Festival, 2010

The official start of fall is less than a week away, meaning it’s time again for some of the best weather in Korea and its accompanying  frenzy of festivals.   Here in Gyeongju we can look forward to a few old favorites plus some changes and special events.  First off, both vegetarians and Buddhist culture aficionados will want to check out the first annual Sachal Eumshik (사찰 음식), or Temple Food, Festival out at Deoksungsa Temple (덕숭사) next Saturday, Sept. 24th.   Contrary to popular belief (of many Koreans, in fact) Korea has a rich and delicious tradition of vegetarian cuisine rooted in the country’s numerous Buddhist temples.  Sachal Eumshik can be savored at several restaurants around Gyeongju, like Baru in Seondo-dong or Ssukbujaengi near Bomun.

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Summer News: World Culture Expo, Blue One Water Park and More

Laser Show, 2011 Gyeongju World Expo (image from http://au.ibtimes.co)

Laser Show, 2011 Gyeongju World Expo (image from http://au.ibtimes.co)

My apologies for being a bit slow in getting caught up from our vacation.  As always, there have been some cool things happening in Gyeongju this summer, so here’s a belated rundown of some of the highlights:  The time has come around again for the triennial Gyeongju World Culture ExpoZ.  The fun kicked off on August 12th and runs for 60 days until October 20th.  The World Culture Expo features performances and exhibitions from around the world (which you’ve probably already guessed).  To give you a better idea of what the Expo’s about, the 2008 Expo featured everything from traditional Thai dancing, a Russian Ice Ballet, and a retrospective of Korean video artist Baik Nam Jun to Chinese acrobats and an exhibition of Korean cartoon characters for the kids.  Like a lot of expats in Korea, my wife and I have already traveled a bit internationally so we found a few of the exhibits to be a mite cheesy and overdone.  Even so, it  was still a fun day out and definitely worth the price of admission. read more »

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Top 10 YouTube Videos on Gyeongju and the Shilla Dynasty

It’s been a while since I’ve done any “Top 10″ and since I’ve been busy with final exams and grades, I don’t have any proper articles ready to go this week.  Instead, I figured I’d post on the 10 best YouTube videos I could find about Gyeongju. Believe me, it was a lot harder than it sounds. For all the time I spent fast forwarding through dozens vacation slideshows of Bulguksa and boring A.P. History projects, I might as well have written an article. In any case, I did in fact find 10 YouTube videos that are well worth watching (in spite of their occasional flaws). So, in no particular order, first up is the official UNESCO World Heritage promotional video on Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto. It’s pretty:

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2011 WTF Taekwondo Championship Photos

2011 WTF Taekwondo Championships, Gyeongju

2011 WTF Taekwondo Championships, Gyeongju

Last Sunday we decided to brave the yellow sand and head down to Hwangseong Park to check out the first day of the World Teakwondo Championships.  The atmosphere was festive and park was packed with  locals and visiting athletes.  There were hundreds of tents strewn about hawking everything from teakwondo gear, sports jerseys and Nike trainers to regional cultural products like dried fish and amethyst jewelry. Traditional Korean concerts ran along side arts and craft demo.  Plus at the soju tents down by the river a troupe cross dressing clowns were gearing up to perform as we strolled by.  Even the annual Gyeongju Pottery Festival was running literally next to the Gymnasium (but more on that later) which provided a nice break for a bit window shopping. read more »

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More Spring News: Traditional Korean Opera, Free Taekwondo Tickets, New Gyeongju Website and More

Bomun Opera Performance Poster (click to enlarge)

Bomun Opera Performance Poster (click to enlarge)

Spring is a busy time in Gyeongju, so there are few more things happening around town that I thought I’d mention.   May 5th – 7th (Thursday through Saturday) the Gyeongju City Government is hosting a free opera performance out at Bomun Lake titled “The River Flows to the Sea.”  The opera is a drama based on the relationship between two legendary figures from the Shilla Dynasty; Queen Seondeok and General Kim Yu-shin.  The opera will be accompanied by a Korean classical symphony and features some pretty heavy hitters from the world of Korean theater and classical music, like conductor Park Sang-jin.  The opera will run from 7:00 to 9:30 pm and will be held at the out-door theater on the north shore of Bomun Lake.  If you’re in town that weekend, definitely check it out as it sounds pretty cool.  I mentioned it was free, right? read more »

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2011 Spring Events: Cherry Blossoms, Marathon, Liquor Festival, Martial Arts and More

Gyeongju Cherry Blossoms

Gyeongju Cherry Blossoms

It’s finally beginning to feel a bit like spring around Gyeongju, which means we’re just days away from that magical season when the cherry trees begin to bud and then blossom.  Entire streets in Gyeongju turn into marshmallow wonderlands and romantic couples stroll through flurries of pink petals.  I already posted last spring on some of the best places in town to check out the cherry blossoms, like at Kim Yu-shin’s tomb and the ruins of Banwolseong fortress, so I won’t repeat myself here.  Korea’s wizards of meteorology have gazed into their crystal balls and have predicted Gyeongju’s cherry flowers (벚꽃)  will begin blossoming between now and April 8th and that the peak season this year should be April 6th – 15th. read more »

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2011 Taekwondo World Championships (세계태권도선수권 대회)

Official Taekwondo World Championships Poster (from 2011taewondo.org)

Official Taekwondo World Championships Poster (from 2011taewondo.org)

Recent visitors to Gyeongju might be a bit befuddled by the flashy banners hung all over town proclaiming “2011 Gyeongju WTF!”  No, this is not another misguided English marketing slogan sponsored by the Gyeongju Tourism Board (“Historopia” anyone?).  And if you stop sniggering for a minute, I’ll be happy to explain.  This spring Gyeongju is proudly hosting the 2011 World Championships of the World Taekwondo Federation.  But then, you probably already guessed that from the title of this post. read more »

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Zen Legends- Part 1: Why the Bodhidharma (달마) Came From the West

Portrait of the Bodhidharma (from atlantica.hangame.com)

Portrait of the Bodhidharma (from atlantica.hangame.com)

In Korean Seon (선) Buddhism (Ch. “Chan”, Jap. “Zen”) practitioners often meditate on paradoxical or nonsensical riddles known as koans (공안 or “ kong-an” in Korean) to gain insight into the nature of thought, perception and reality.  One of the most famous of these riddles is “Why did the Bodhidharma (Kr. “Dalma” or달마) come from the west?”  The Zen master Zhaozhou answered, “The cypress tree in front of the hall.”  I‘m not sure about that myself, but thankfully the mundane answer is a bit more simple.  read more »

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Winter News: Martial Arts Demos, AREX and More

Seonmudo Demo, Golgulsa Temple (photo by Andrew Peet)

Seonmudo Demo, Golgulsa Temple (photo by Andrew Peet)

If you’ve not seen the signs around town recently, Golgulsa Temple (골굴사) has started hosting daily demonstrations of Seonmudo (선무도), or “Zen Martial Arts.”   Golgulsa has been the center of a Seonmudo revival over the last few decades, so the demos are free and are scheduled for both 11 am and 3 pm every day except Monday.  I’ve visited Golgulsa many times over the years and have had the pleasure of seeing a few demos before (in fact I posted a video of one back in August).   But my brother-in-law was visiting last week, so we stopped by to check it out on our way back from King Munmu’s tomb at the coast. read more »

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Gyeongju Weekend Events: G20, Golgulsa Festival & Moonlight Walk

 

G20 Comes to Bomun Resort (image from english.yonhapnews.co.kr/)

G20 Comes to Bomun Resort (image from english.yonhapnews.co.kr/)

Bomun Resort G20 Summit

This weekend is going to be a bit crazy around Gyeongju.  There’s a lot of stuff going on, and some of it sounds pretty cool (and some of it not really).  For starters, we’ve all heard about the G20 kicking off in Seoul, but you might not know that there’s a separate G20 summit going down this weekend at Gyeongju’s own Bomun Lake Resort.  This summit is reserved solely for the C.F.O.s of the member countries and will focus primarily on tweaking the nuts and bolts of the global economy. read more »

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