[KTravel] Korea Cultural Heritage Sites Part 2

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Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites (Designated 2000)


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Location

Gochang-gun, Jeollabuk-do; Hwasun-gun, Jeollanam-do; Ganghwa-gun, Incheon

Description

Dolmens are stone graves that were built during the prehistoric era. Gochang Dolmen Site,Hwasun Dolmen Site and Ganghwa Dolmen Site are unparalleled in the world, given the degree of concentration and diversity in the forms and scales of dolmens discovered in these three sites. Most of the dolmens were built in B.C 1000, providing modern people with a vital glimpse into the society and technological advancement of the period.
Recognized by UNESCO in 2000, dolmens in Gochang, Ganghwa, and Hwasun are considered the finest artifacts for studying the social structure of Korea in the Bronze Age and cultural exchanges with people in Northeastern Asia during the Prehistoric Era. In particular, the dolmens exact construction process can be known from existing quarries, providing vital materials in studying the history of dolmens and how they have changed over time.
The magnitude of the construction project was enormous, with over 700,000 laborers working on the project from January 1794 to September 1796. After the completion, 5,000 troops belonging to the royal guard unit were stationed in the fortress. Though Hwaseong Fortress ultimately failed to become the second capital of the Joseon Dynasty, it remains a symbol of both the ingenuity and technological advancements of the period.


Gochang Dolmen site in Jungnim-ri, Gochang-gun, Jeollabuk-do, has one of the largest concentrations of dolmen, with over 1,550 dolmens in the area. Of the many dolmens, 447 of Gochang’s dolmens were officially registered with UNESCO. Gochang is a well-known dolmen site in Korea for allowing visitors to see many dolmens in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Hwasun Dolmen Site is spread throughout a 10km-long mountain valley linking Hyosan-ri and Daesin-ri. The site has a total of 596 dolmens, usually found at the foot of the mountain or on the rocky mountain tops. Being located in areas difficult for humans to access, the dolmens have remained nearly perfectly preserved.


There are over 120 dolmens remaining from the Bronze Age at Ganghwa. The distribution of dolmens here is quite widely spread throughout a diverse topography, which is conclusive evidence that the societal structures were quite different depending on the dates the dolmens were built.
It is assumed that the materials used to build the dolmen stones were transported from a distant rock quarry or stony coast. Therefore, the social and power structure were presumably well established, given that it was not an easy task to move a large rock during that era.
The most representative dolmen in the region is 'Bugeulli Jiseok Dolmen', a table-styled dolmen with a huge cover stone, 5.6m in width and 7.1m in length, resting on two supporting stones 2.6m in height. The purpose of this dolmen has not yet been discovered but there have been speculations that it was either the tomb of a tribal chief or altar for rituals.
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Gyeongju Historic Areas (Designated 2000)

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Location

Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do

Description

Gyeongju Historic Area is a historical attraction where the achievements and culture of Silla have remained well-preserved. In the Gyeongju area, there are many sites and monuments important to the 1,000 years of development of Korean architecture and Buddhism. Over 52 cultural heritages were designated by UNESCO and the area is divided into 5 zones based on their characteristics: the Namsan Mountain area, showing the beauty of Buddhist art; the Wolseong Fortress area, the royal grounds of Silla dynasty; the Daereungwon Tomb area, the tombs of high-ranking officials including the kings of the Silla Dynasty; the Hwangnyongsa Temple area, showing the essence of Silla Buddhism; and the Sanseong Fortress area, focusing on the defensive mechanisms of the royal capital.


Poseokjeongji (Poseokjeong Pavilion) in Namsan Mountain of Gyeongju is a stone waterway carved into a raised rock platform.
This is where the Silla Kings would come with their officials and nobles for parties. It is said that they would float their wine glasses on the water as it flowed along the stone groove, showing the Silla people's love for a cozy and relaxing atmosphere.
Constructed during the reign of Queen Seon-deok (632-647), Cheomseongdae was used for observing the stars in order to forecast the weather. It is the oldest existing astronomical observatory in Asia.
Astronomy was related to agriculture because the movement of the stars could influence the farming schedule. The obveratory is also highly valued as proof of the advanced sicence technology of the Silla Dynasty.


Bunhwangsa Temple was where the prominent Buddhist priest Wonhyo resided. The stone brick pagoda in front of the temple has become one of the must-see sites in Gyeongju, as it is the oldest stone pagoda
Large ancient tombs of kings and nobles of the Silla Kingdom can be seen around Gyeongju at Daereungwon Tomb Complex, including Cheonmachong Ancient Tomb. During an excavation of the tomb, Cheonmachong was discovered with a painting of a mounted horse, giving the tomb it’s name (‘Cheonma’ means heavenly horse in Korean). There are over 10,000 remains and relics inside the tomb, making it a living museum for studying the ancient art and exchange of culture among other nations.

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Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty (Designated 2009)

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Location

Seoul, Gyeonggi-do, Yeongwol in Gangwon-do.

Description

Royal tombs of Korea are well-maintained heritage sites that are invaluable to Korea’s over 500 years of history. The tombs are interred with kings and queens, as well as monarchs that were posthumously granted the title of king or queen of the Joseon Dynasty. These sites are located mostly in lush green spaces around the suburbs of Seoul, providing visitors with a wonderful opportunity to enjoy nature in an urban setting.
Very rarely have royal dynastic tombs worldwide been so well preserved in their entirety, passing centuries of time. Therefore, UNESCO has appointed the areas and ancestral rites held on the sites to be World Cultural Heritages in order to be remembered and to cherish the unique beauty and cultural importance.
Of all the royal tombs of Korea’s past dynasties, the tombs of the Joseon Dynasty are in the best condition, and their location were chosen based on geomantic traditions and Confucian beliefs. They could not be located on any mountain or in any field, but were carefully selected to be housed in a place considered a divine space, isolated from other areas that were already in use by surrounding mountains or other topographical features.
For the same reason, the majority of the royal tombs are found in or near Seoul, which was called ‘Hanyang’ back then, believing the spirit of the kings and queens continued to have a positive influence over the nation’s dynastic capital. As a result, among the 40 royal tombs, a number close to a half are found in the capital city of Seoul, including Seolleung / JeongneungJeongneung and UireungSeooreungDonggureungGwangneung,Yungneung / Geolleung and Yeongneung / Nyeongneung in Gyeonggi-do; and lastly Jangneung royal tomb is located in Gangwon-do, which is further east of Seoul.


Seonjeongneung, the name of the site which comprises Seolleung and Jeongneung Royal Tombs, is famous for its tranquil and pleasant promenades. As it is conveniently located in Samseong-dong, downtown Seoul, couples and office workers often go there for a leisurely walk. Most people see the place as a peaceful area to relax. Unlike how it seems now however, the tomb had gone through many years of sacrifice and disgraceful events in the past, especially during the Imjin War (1592-1598). Even after the hardships, the tomb was well cared for and managed in memorial of King Seongjong (1469-1494), his wife Queen Jeonghyeon, and King Jungjong (1506-1544) of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).
Yeongneung, in Yeoju of Gyeonggi-do, was the first joint royal tomb of the Joseon Dynasty, and houses the 4th ruler of the Joseon Dynasty, King Sejong (1397-1450, reign 1418-1450), who is respected for the invention of Hangeul (Korean language), and his wife Queen Soheon (1395-1446).


Seooreung is the second largest royal burial site of the Joseon Dynasty after Donggureung. In Korean, it means five tombs (‘Reung’ refers to the tombs of the Kings and Queens) located to the west (‘seo’ means west in Korean) of Seoul. These places relate to memories of fame and the glorious lives of queens and princesses of the past.
Donggureung, on the other hand, is a historical venue set in the eastern part of Seoul. The site features nine royal mausoleums and they are observed to be comparatively larger than others. Gyeongneung Royal Tomb is especially worth noting due to the interchanged burial positions between queens and kings as well as being the only burial site that entombed two wives of one king, King Heonjong, together in one place.


Jangneung is the tomb of Danjong, the 6th king of Joseon (1452~1455) whose throne was abdicated by his uncle. Leaving the royal palace upon exile, the king spent the later years of his life in Yeongwol until his death. To mourn and commemorate his unfortunate life, the tomb was built; however, unlike most of the royal tombs, it was enshrined at the farthest point from the capital. But thanks to its geological distance, it benefited by being unharmed by external forces. The area is surrounded by green and has been guarded by a sacred gate called Hongsalmun (meaning ‘gate with red arrows’ in Korean), adding extra care in protection.
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Historic Villages of Korea: Hahoe and Yangdong (Designated 2010)

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Location

Gyeongju-si ∙ Andong-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do

Description

Andong Hahoe Village and Gyeongju Yangdong Village are historical villages that were developed during the 14th to 15th century in Gyeongsangbuk-do. These two villages are well-preserved examples of a typical clan village based on descents whose members are derived from common ancestors, which carry the same family name. Even today, the families live in the village and continue their meaningful legacy, making the whole village a living and active cultural heritage.
The village clearly exhibited a typical Confucian culture where there was a clear line between the aristocratic yangban class and commoners during the Joseon Dynasty when the clan structure became stricter and bloodline was of utmost importance. The arrangement of the dwellings clearly shows how the village life was regulated and strictly enforced by Confucianism.
The two villages have their respective head of the clan, in which the yangban class resided in a wooden housing with their own pavilions, lecture halls and shrines while the commoners lived in housings made of soil and straw roofs.


Hahoe Village is home to descendants of the Ryu clan of Pungsan for the last 600 years and is well-known for its traditional houses. Birthplace of renowned scholars of the Joseon Period such as Gyeomam Ryu Un-ryong and Seoae Ryu Seong-ryong, the village became even more famous after Queen Elizabeth of England visited in 1999 and George Bush, the former president of the United States in 2005.
The Hahoe Village features the dwelling of the yangban class, their lecture halls and various types of houses; where even today the people still reside in, creating a realistic illusion of time traveling back to the Joseon Dynasty.
The Hahoe Maskdance is a slapstick and social satire in the form of mask dancing from the perspective of the Joseon Dynasty’s commoner class. The ruling class would conduct a poetry meeting in front of the cliffs as Seonyu julbulnori, a traditional fireworks display.


Gyeongju Yangdong Village is Korea’s largest traditional village where the aristocratic yangban class lived in tile-roofed house, mostly on high hills while the dwellings typically feature thatched-roofs at the foot of the hills.
The village is well organized and clearly sectioned by the purpose and usage of the buildings. Buildings are built in different locations. Ancestral tablets were enshrined at the back of the house while a pavilion or lecture hall located in the site with beautiful and calm natural surroundings.
At the entrance of the village, Yangdong Village Cultural Center offers a variety of hands-on traditional cultural Korean activities such as art crafts, calligraphy, making a kite and experiencing millstones and mortars.
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Namhansanseong Fortress (Designated 2014)

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Location

Gwangju-si, Gyeonggi-do

Description

Namhansanseong Provincial Park (also frequently known as Namhansanseong Fortress) is a unique fortress city with the purpose of functioning as an emergency capital for the protection of sovereignty over Hangang River and independence of Joseon. The exact date of the establishment has not been confirmed. However, given the close examination of records, the opinion prevails that it was built either during the Silla or Baekje Dynasty.
Most of all, the Namhansanseong Fortress is of great historical and cultural value in perfectly reserving the development of castellation skills from Unified Silla to Joseon, which made it well-deserved to be listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. 
Each of the four gates and Munrus (2-story houses built on the gates) in every direction of the north, south, east and west has Sueocheong (where the troops stayed), warehouses and Haenggung (temporary palace).
Major cultural assets include SueojangdaeJanggyeongsa Temple, Haenggung, Sungryeoljeon Shrine, Cheongryangdang Shaman Shrine and Chimkwaejeong.


Sueojangdae (Defense Commander's Post) is a two-story wooden military facility used for observation deck which soldiers can watch enemy movements as well as for directing battles. Out of 4 posts erected, Sueojangdae is the only remaining structure and sits on the top of the highest Iljangsan Mountain in the fortress.
The Namhansanseong Fortress Defense Command was organized during the Manchu Invasion in 1636. King Injo himself helped to direct and encourage the troops from here, and they managed to hold out for 40 days against the Qing force.
Janggyeongsa Temple was built in 1683 and this is where the monks who were helping to build the fortress, stayed. This showed how the monks were dedicated to the works of the nation. The temple is the only place that was preserved out of the nine temples that were built by the Buddhist Army, also known as Seunggun in Korean.


The Haenggung of Namhansanseong where the King temporarily stayed was constructed to serve as a shelter and an emergency capital city during wartimes. Unlike other palaces, it was a self-sufficient defensive fortress where the local administrative center was placed within the fortress together with jongmyo, a royal ancestral shrine and sajik, an altar. It holds a great value today as it allows one to closely examine the system of temporary palace during the Joseon era.
Sungryeoljeon Shrine was built in commemoration of the founder Baekje, King Onjo (r. B.C. 18 ~ A.D.28). General Yi Seo who was in charge of the construction of Namhansanseong are enshrined together here, where sacrificial rites are held whenever there is a big event related to the fortress.
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Baekje Historic Areas (Designated 2015)

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Location

Iksan-si, Jeollabuk-do; Buyeo-gun & Gongju-si, Chungcheongnam-do

Description

Tracing the relics of Baekje from Iksan-si in Jeollabuk-do, and Buyeo-gun and Gongju-si in Chungcheongnam-do, one can catch a glimpse of the ancient treasures of the Baekje history, one of Korea’s ancient districts. The glamorous yet not too extravagant palaces and temple sites carried the memory back to the most flourishing times of Baekje, which have became a fascinating tourist destination that is worth the visit.
The site has garnered international recognition as the 12th venue to be listed on UNESCO’s World Cultural and Natural Heritage list for Korea for being central to trade and cultural exchange through areas of the East Asia countries including China and Japan.
Baekje Historic Areas constitutes important cultural heritage sites that spread across neighboring cities of Gongju, Buyeo and Iksan. A total of eight sites are categorized as Continuous Heritagesand they are made up of two sitesin Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do (Gongsanseong FortressSongsan-ri Tombs and Royal Tomb of King Muryeong), four sites in Buyeo,Chungcheongnam-do (Gwanbuk-ri Relics and Busosanseong Fortress of BuyeoBuyeo Neungsan-ri Ancient TombsJeongnimsajiBuyeo Naseong Fortress), and two sites in Iksan of Jeollabuk-do (Iksan Wanggungni Historic SiteMireuksaji).


Gongju Gongsanseong Fortress of the Baekje Era had been called Ungjinseong and later became known as Gongsanseong after the Goryeo Dynasty. The fortress sits on the top of Gongsan moutain that soars 110m above sea level and stretches its arms to the south for 2,450 meters.
Gongsanseong Fortress not only has historical value but also a stunning night view that had drawn many tourists visit and capture the beautiful nightscape. Royal Tomb of King Muryeong is the tomb of the 25th king of Baekje. It is a rare occasion for the identiy of the ancient tomb to be revealed. The tomb had remained perfectly intact and unrobbed with over 4,600 artifacts unearthed, which held great historical value and became added assets to the ancient art history studies.

Busosanseong Fortress, which used to be called Sabiseong back then, was the capital of Baekje for 123 years before the kingdom was overthrown.

Nakhwaam Rock, which literally means “Rock of Falling Flowers,” is a rock cliff where 3,000 ladies of the court jumped off, passing down the tragic legend of Baekje.
Mireuksaji was the largest temple in the history of Baekje where it has two famous sites to visit, the pagoda and the Dangganjiju flagpole support. The Mireuksaji Seoktap in the temple is the oldest and the largest stone pagoda in Korea. The east tower of the pagoda was restored in 1993 and restoration of the west tower is currently in progress. In particular, the Dangganjiju of Mireuksaji is held as a great cultural heritage for being well preserved.
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[full credits to Korea Tourism Organization]

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