Tag Archives: traditional culture

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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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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Chunghyo-dong Food & drink Gyeongju restaurants Temples & shrines tips for tourists

Restaurant Review #22: Handmade Kalguksu (손칼국수) at Kim Yu-shin’s Shrine

Son Kalguksu Restaurant Kim Yu-sin's Tomb, Gyeongju

Son Kalguksu Restaurant Kim Yu-sin's Tomb, Gyeongju

The kalguksu (칼국수) restaurant at General Kim Yu-shin’s memorial shrine is one of those hidden gems of Gyeongju; the operative word here being hidden.  It’s actually located in one of the side buildings of Sungmujeon (숭무전), the Confucian Shrine venerating the spirit tablet of the famed Silla general Kim Yu-shin (595~673 C.E.). The shrine itself is a bit hard to find as it’s tucked in a little horseshoe valley down from Kim Yu-sin’s Tomb hidden by the train tracks.  The restaurant is in a nondescript farm house to the side with just a small placard advertising 손칼국수,  or  ”hand-cut wheat noodles.”  If you didn’t know where it was, you’d probably never find it.  For as hidden as it is, it’s usually busy, which is a good sign. read more »

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Events Festivals Gyeongju Hotels and housing Korean culture Music & dance News tips for tourists

2012 Spring Events: Cherry Blossoms, Miso II, Concerts and More

Cherry Blossoms at Night, Gyeongju

Cherry Blossoms at Night, Gyeongju

I’ll skip my usually apologies to my regular readers for not posting in over almost month.  Suffice to say, I’ve been swept up in the usual start-of-semester whirlwind lately.  Thankfully things are finally settling into a routine and with spring at our door step, there are a few things to catch up on. For starters, cherry blossom season is close upon us again. If you’re planning to frolic among the flowers this year, the Korean Tourism Organization has recently released its predictions for the blossoming dates and peak times for 2012. It looks like the cherries here in Gyeongju will begin blooming around April 2nd and will be at their peak between April 11th and the 20th, so mark your calendars.  And if you’re looking tips on places in town to check out the cherry blossoms,  I’ve posted suggestions in years past on the best spots for the blossoms. read more »

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More Dangsan Namu (당산나무): KTV Documentary in 4 Parts

Since we’ve been on the subject of Dangsan Namu (당산나무) lately, I posting a KTV documentary I found on Youtube about Korean Dangsan Namu.  The documentary is in 4 parts, though unfortunately only the first and second seconds have English subs.  Even so, parts 1 and 2 are enough to a give a sense of the rich variety of legends surrounding the Dangsan Namu in Korean folklore.  Part 2 even includes details on the traditional village ceremonies honoring the Dangsan Namu on Daeboreum (대보름), which I talked about a few weeks ago.   Unfortunately my Korean’s not good enough to make much sense of the Korean narration in parts 3 and 4, but I’m including them below anyways.  If any Korean speakers would like to chime in with a summary in the comments section, I’d definitely appreciate it ;-) read more »

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Photos: A Dangsan Tree (당나무) on Daeboreum (대보름)

Dangsan Tree on Daeboreum Holiday in Gyeongju

Dangsan Tree on Daeboreum Holiday in Gyeongju

If you’ve checked your calendar recently, you might have noticed that last Monday night was a full moon.  In fact, it was the first full moon after Seollal (설날), or Lunar New Years , here in Korea, which marks it as the holiday of Daeboreum (대보름).   Daeboreum has been traditionally celebrated with a massive bonfire , music, and dancing, making it one of my favorite Korean holidays.  In fact, I’ve already posted twice on Daeboreum, with both photos and video of the Gyeongju’s Daeboruem bonfire a few years back, so I won’t say too much here about the holiday itself. 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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Andong Korean culture videos

Video: Traditional Fireworks at the Andong Mask Dance Festival

This is probably a bit random, but it’s been ages since I’ve posted any videos here.  On the evening of the opening and closing Saturday of the Andong Mask Dance Festival, Hahoe Folk Village hosts a traditional firework performance.  They string ropes from the village, across the river, to the top of the cliff.  The ropes are covered with some sort of sap or dried pine needles and set on fire.  Various performers read poetry and sing songs while sparks are raining down and floating candles drift past on the river.  Meanwhile, actors dressed in traditional garb begin performing a play on a barge in the middle of the river, their shadows cast on the cliff face with a spot light.   Finally, at several points throughout the evening, the audience cheers and flaming hay bales are thrown from the top of the cliff into the river.  The effect of the whole experience is pretty magical.  Unfortunately this last year, the event was dampened a bit by rain and my video camera’s not the greatest.  Even so, I hope this video gives you a taste of how cool the Hahoe Traditional Fireworks actually are.  It’s a little bit of a hassle to get out to Hahoe village, but check ‘em out if you can next Fall when the Mask Dance Festival comes around again.

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2011 Gyeongju Ceramics Festival Photos

Gyeongju Ceramics Festival

Gyeongju Ceramics Festival

Somehow I always forget about the annual Gyeongju Shilla Ceramics Festival. It’s not that I hate Korean pottery or anything. (In fact, I’m a proud owner of several Korean tea sets). Rather, the fine folks over at Gyeongju’s City Hall always double book the Ceramics Festival along side other big events (which actually isn’t as daft as it might seem since it helps draw in the crowds). In years past it ran literally next to the Liquor and Rice Cake Festival in Hwanseong Park. This year however it’s providing a nice cultural courter point to the adrenaline fueled Taekwondo Championships next door in Hwangseong Gymnasium. There seem to be a lot more artists at the Ceramics Festival then in years past and they’ve got a few hands on activities for the youngsters, as well as other types of traditional crafts for sale. The Ceramics Festival runs through this weekend and finishes up on Sunday the May 8th, a few days longer then the WTF Championships. If your around, check it out as it’s a great opportunity for some early Christmas (or belated Mother’s Day) shopping. 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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