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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 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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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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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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Special Events for Buddha’s Birthday (석가탄신일): Friday, May 21st

Coming up in about a week and a half is my absolute favorite holiday in Korea: Seokga Tanshinil (석가탄신일), or Buddha’s Birthday.   Every temple in Korea celebrates Buddha’s Birthday one way or another.  Most hang lanterns, have special ceremonies and serve a special group lunch or dinner for parishioners.  A few of the larger or more historically important temples will host special musical performances or hold a lantern parade in the evening, just after sun down.

This year, Seokga Tanshinil falls on Friday, May 21st.  In Gyeongju, there are 3 particularly special events that happen for Buddha’s Birthday that shouldn’t be missed.  If you’ve got a car, or you’re adventurous with public transit, you could easily hit all 3: read more »

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Golgulsa Temple (골굴사)

Sakyamuni Buddha, Golgulsa Temple (골굴사)

Sakyamuni Buddha, Golgulsa Temple (골굴사)

Though it’s not quite Korea’s answer to the Shaolin Monastery of China, Golgulsa Temple (골굴사) is one of the more unique temples in the Gyeongju area and it’s pretty darn cool. If you’re on your way over to King Munmu’s tomb (문무대왕릉) on the East Coast, it’s well worth taking an hour or so to stop off here and check it out. read more »

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