Thursday, October 29, 2009

Discovering Gyeongsangbuk-do - Mungyeong-si

To the west of Yecheon County, Mungyeong City stands on the border between North Gyeongsang and North Chungcheong provinces and is where we will be heading for next. The Sobaek mountains form a line between the two provinces, the highest peak being the Munsu peak in Mt. Worak. The city's terrain cut by numerous valleys, slopes down from the Sobaek peaks towards the valleys of the Nakong River and its tributary, the Yeong. At their meeting-point in Yeongsun-myeon, the rivers are barely 200 m above sea-level. Above the valleys, the soil is thin and sedimentary bedrock is very common. Millions of years of erosion have created spectacular cliffs and escarpments in many areas, some of which have become major tourist attractions.

Mungyeong City is practically neighbours with Danyang County and Chungju City to the north, GoesanCounty to the northwest and Sangju City to the south. Mungyeong has a lengthy history and is well known for its various historical and scenic tourist spots. You will find the hub of the local activity to be centered on Jeomchon which is the principal town here. I shall skip the earlier history of Mungyeong to tell you how this came about. If you recall, the ROK was under military dictatorship from 1961 until 1991. At that time, Mungyeong was divided into two territories, Jeomchon City and Mungyeong County. The city only acquired its present-day borders in 1995, when the two former units were merged into one to form the present-day territory of Mungyeong City. The overwhelming majority of Mungyeong's people (approximately 99.7%) are ethnic Koreans, many of whom are from families with long and deep roots in the area. But nowadays the population in Mungyeong County is decreasing as more and more people, especially the younger generation are moving away to major urban cities such as Daegu and Seoul.

For those of you who are mountain lovers then Mungyeong County will certainly please you. When there are mountains there must be valleys, so on this trip we will be travelling over a lot of hills and dales. If I’m not mistaken, there are more than 30 mountains in Mungyeong County whereas the valleys are not that many, perhaps some of them are not accessible. Anyway the homepage recommends we visit a few of these valleys and mountains which we will do so. However I wonder if I can fit all that in one posting, you know, there are some very interesting legends connected with some of these mountains. Because the land in Mungyeong is mountainous, (roughly 75%) it is unsuitable for farming. Nonetheless, the agricultural sector continues to play an important role in the local economy. Some local produce is sold directly in the area, but most is exported to major urban centers around South Korea. Orchard farming, particularly apple growing plays an important role in its economy.

Just a bit about Mungyeong City before we go sightseeing. There are three museums in Mungyeong: the historical museum at Mungyeong Saejae, a ceramics museum nearby, and the Coal Museum in Gaeun-eup. Why coal museum? In the olden days coal mining used to be a means of livelihood in this area, but not now anymore. However the city officials are trying to convert the coal-mining tradition into a tourist attraction. Gaeun, was once the heart of the mining district, and that’s why the museum is there.

National Parks seem to be predominant in this county naturally because of its numerous mountains and valleys. The Songnisan National Park covers part of Gaeun-eup in the southwest. Mungyeong Saejae is itself a provincial park, covering a substantial area of Mungyeong-eup. Also covering part of Mungyeong-eup and a considerable part of Dongno-myeon is the Woraksan National Park.

Although Mungyeong is a city there is no airport here whereas a small airport with passenger service operates in neighboring Yecheon where we came from. Like most of the other rural areas in Gyeongsang province, the culture of Mungyeong is greatly influenced by Korean Confucian values. The city still retains ties with the traditional arts like the various Korean folksongs, including the Mungyeong Saejae arirang, which are distinctive to the district. However, the most intensely promoted art form in the district is Mungyeong's traditional ceramic craft, which dates back to the Joseon period and is still practiced by many master potters in the area.
Local cuisine, although broadly similar to South Korean cuisine in general, does have some local influence. The North Gyeongsang specialty jjim dalk, a spicy chicken and noodle dish, and Chuncheon-style chicken galbi are widely available here.

Juheul-gwan 1st Gate Jogokgwan 2nd gateway 01 Joryeong-gwan 3rd Gate

And now let’s start on our tour of Mungyeong. Our first stop is the Mungyeong Saejae Provincial Park. There are 3 legendary boundary gates at Mungyeong Saejae Provincial Park, on rough mountain tops, which are reputed to be too tall for even birds to fly over. Jungyeong Saejae, which overlays Mt. Joryeongsan, has always been the highest and most dangerous mountain pass. The boundary gates and castle walls were raised here after the Japanese Invasion of Korea and were used as fortresses for national defence. These three entrances, are called the Mungyeong Samgwan-mun (3 Entrance Gates of Mungyeong) and are all located on Juheul-san (1,106 meters) They were damaged after that point, but in 1966 the No. 1, 2, and 3 boundary gates and castle walls were designated collectively as historical relic No. 147 and were later restored in 1976. Take the big road beside boundary gate No. 1 ( Juheulgwan), for about 1.5km and you’ll arrive at the 3rd gate (Joryeongwon). There are only stonewalls left from the many inn-like dwellings, which were built to accommodate government officials on official tour. Past the tavern, which was restored in 1983, you’ll reach the 2nd gate (Jogokgwan.) The area around Jogokgwan is famous for its birch trees, and the Mungyeongsaejae Revolt Monument is on the left side of the road.
It’s 3km from Juheulgwan to Jogokgwan and 3.4km from Jogokgwan to Joryeonggwan, through a walkway with its harmonious scenery of rocks and cool streams. Instead of taking the big road, you can take the road with the sounds of stream water, to a waterfall. 30 minutes farther and you’ll arrive at Hyeguksa Temple.

Hyeguksa temple

Hyeguksa Temple is at the edge of Juheulsan, and is the place where King Gongmin (reign 1351-1374) took refuge from the war of Honggeonjeok at the end of the Koryo period. Past Hyeguksa Temple and the Royal Palace about 1km, you’ll reach the sacred peak of Mt, Juheulsan. The view of the winding mountain ranges from the mountain top is spectacular. From the mountain top, past the valley, is Jogokgwan. The 3rd boundary gate is at Juheulsan (1,106m), and it takes about 4-5 hours to get to Jogokgwan from Juheulgwan. The area was designated as a Provincial Park in 1981

changseung Mungyeong SaeJae Provincial Park

Near the park’s entrance is a large collection of these Korean wooden carvings or changseung, (similar to totem poles) which are supposed to keep away evil spirits. I think I already spoke about them when I wrote about the Jangseong Park (Andong Part 2). There's a movie set of a traditional Korean village further up the trail.The tourist village is at the south entrance to the park where you can find restaurants, minbaks, and souvenir shops.

Mungyeong Sejae Museum 01

Let’s go into the museum, it looks very big and impressive. The Mungyeongsaejae Museum is just slightly over 12 years old and can still be considered quite new. It’s near the entrance to the park. It consists of three exhibition rooms. The 1st room Juheul is mainly about “Mungyeongsaejae”, here you can read all about the origin and early history of Mungyeong Saejae. The 2nd room Jogok is about “The Culture of Mungyeong,” It portrays the lifestyle of the Korean people, the clothes they wear, the food they eat, the houses they stay in, the religions they practice, their occupations and the tools of their trade. The 3rd room Joryeong is focused on “the cultural assets in Mungyeong,” it’s all about Chinaware in Mungyeong including those buried and excavated, and also old documents and paintings.

Taejo Wanggeun Noble Village 02

Taejo Wanggeun Goryeo Palace

Taejo Wanggeun Noble Village

KBS drama studio is also located in this park, specializing in historical dramas, and claims to be the largest scale studio in the world. In order to film historical drama with the Koryo period background this seemed to be the ideal place, as physically, the Joryung Mountain and Juheul Mountain were very similar to Gaesung’s Songak Mountain. For the filming of Taejo Wang Geon they constructed 2 palaces (Koryo and Baekje), a 48 traditional Korean tile house complex to show the high class people's place of residence, and 47 traditional thatched roof houses to portray the look of the average people's living places, during the Goryeo Dynasty.
The Goryeo palace is as tall as a 7-story building and is based on historical investigation of the actual Goryeo Dynasty's palace site, Manwoldae.. The Mungyeong set is surrounded by Worak-san National Park and Juheul-san. To get to the set, go to the Mungyeong Saejae Management Office at Mungyeong-eup, past the Mungyeong Saejae Museum until you arrive at the first gate (Juheul-gwan).
For the filming of King Saejong, they constructed the Gwanghwa door, the Gyeongbok palace, the Dong palace, Suhungwan, Gaksa within the palace, houses of the noble class and houses of the lower class. Besides Taejo Wang Geon and King Saejong, some of the KBS dramas that were filmed here were First King Wanggun, Morning of the Empire, No Man Period, Daejoyoung and Muinsidae (The Age of Warrior).

Jinnamgyoban recreation area 03

Jinnamgyoban recreation area

Jinnamgyoban recreation area 04

The No.1 scenery of the 'Eight Beauties of Gyeongbuk',. Jinnamgyoban shows the harmony between nature and artificial art. The Gwiam Odd-shaped Stone and the continuous precipitous wall of stratified rock and the three bridges, Cheolgyo (Railway Bridge), Gugyo (Gu Bridge) and Shingyo (Shin Bridge) over the river is just beautiful. During the spring azaleas and royal azaleas bloom profusely and is similar to the Geumgang mountain where it changes drastically according to the season, thus this place is known as the Sogeumgang of Mungyeong.

Bongamsa temple Bongamsa temple Geukrakjeon

The home page of Mungyeong recommends eight places where the view is nice. It is a pity that the Bongamsa temple is off limits to the general public, being a chogye order special ascetic practice place, there are monks doing meditation and any visitors will be distracting for them. However visitors are only allowed in on Buddha’s birthday. The Bongamsa temple is set amidst very beautiful surroundings and there are so many treasures and cultural assets to be found inside the temple and temple grounds like the Geukrakjeon. Jeongjindaesa Wonotap, Jijeungdaesa Jeokjotap Jijeungdaesa Jeokjotapbi, the Bongamsa temple 3-story stone pagoda and the Maebosaljwasang at Bongamsa

Maebosaljwasang at Bongamsa This Buddhist statue, the Maebosaljwasang is engraved on the surface of a large stone of 4m in height and 4.4m in width to the northeast from the streamlet of the place with the fine view called Baekundae.

Daeseungsa temple

So we shall visit another temple instead. The Daeseungsa temple in Jeondu-ri, Sanbuk-myeon has a brilliant history in Korean Buddhism having produced many high priests. It was constructed by Mangnyeong Bigu in the 9th year of King Jinpyeong of Shilla. The main peak of Sabulsan Mountain is Gongdeokbong peak and engraved on the mid-slope of the mountain is a Buddhist, Sabulam statue.

Daeseongsa Yunpilam Wood Amitayeoraejwasang and Jigam

In the temple you can find the Daeseongsa Yunpilam Wood Amitayeoraejwasang and Jigam.. The face of the statue is egg-shaped and it is different from the trend of the late Chosun Dynasty. And the shape of sacerdotal robe was completed relatively simple, and also full of Styx. The Buddhist statue was enshrined in a black niche delicately made with thick Korean paper. This niche seemed to be made after this Buddhist statue was made, which was also done a long time ago. Based on the trend of Buddhist statues, it can be said to have been produced in the late 15th or early 16th century, during the Chosun Dynasty. It is considered to be a valuable asset because of the rarity of small wooden Buddhist statues.

Daeseongsa temple Geumdongbosaljwasang This statue of Buddha is called Geumdongbosaljwasang and is enshrined as the main Buddha statue in the monk’s room of Daeseungsa temple. It has been well preserved. On his head , he is wearing a splendorous metal coronet that was made separately. The surface is filled with various flowers and letters, and he is wearing Tugakhwamun on both sides. As the upper part right of the string knot is expressed at the center of the long upper body, it looks as if it divides the statue into two. These are also the unique characteristics of this statue of Buddha.

Seonyu-dong Valley

Now I’m going to introduce you to another one of the eight “nice views,” the Seonyudong Valley. It is composed of nine winding valleys filled with old evergreens and rock walls, and is also called Seonyugugok. Seonyudong Gyegok Valley’s large rocks are so naturally stacked together that they seem to be deliberately made. According to the legends, the mountain gods came down to this valley to enjoy themselves long ago. This valley has white rock bases in its lakes, and clear water flowing all year between the rock walls. The water falling on the huge rock walls are a sight to behold. On the lower parts of Seonyudong Gyegok Valley, you can see Chilwujeong, a pavilion built in 1927 by seven locals named Wueun, Wuseok, and others who all share the character “wu” in their names. Some say the name of the pavilion was given by King Uichin (reign 1877 - 1955). If you follow the valley, you will see occasional pavilions and characters written on rocks as well. The valley’s scenery has been much loved by many people in the past.

Yongchu Valley Yongchu Gyegok Valley is located in Mt. Daeyasan and it is a special place where the water does not dry up, all throughout the year. Mt. Daeyasan, which is located in Wanjang-ni, Gaeun-eup, is formed of sharp peaks and all different types of Giamgoeseok, and the waters that flow through the valleys do so all year long. It borders Chungbuk Goesan-gun and Gyeongbuk Mungyeong-si, and is located in Mt. Daeyasan (931m). The three-tiered Yongchu Pokpo Waterfall, located in Yongchu Gyegok Valley, is the place of legend where two female dragons rose up to the sky. Yongchu Gyegok Valley is divided into Upper Yongchu and Lower Yongchu. The place where the water falls out of the granite foundation down to where the heart shaped pond is, is Upper Yongchu, and below that point is Lower Yongchu. On either side of Yongchu, there are two large markings on the granite boulders, which are said to be dragon scale markings, made as they rose up to the sky. Even when other places are having droughts, water always flows here, so many rituals for rain were held here in the old days. Above the Yongchu Pokpo Waterfall, past the base rock, about 20 minutes away, you will reach Wolyeongdae. It was named so because of its lovely view of the moon reflected on the water flowing through the rocks in the valley below. Near Yongchu Gyegok Valley there is the Seonyudong Gyegok Valley, also called Seonyu Gyegok (a place of 9 sceneries) where the Okgyesu River runs through two great rocks, which look as if they have been artificially split.

Mungyeong regular marketMungyeong apple.pg

Want to buy some of those famous Mungyeong apples? It’s the specialty at the Mungyeong regular market in Ha-ri, Mungyeong-eup. But they only open for business six days in a month, on the 2nd, 7th, 12th, 17th, 22nd, and the 27th of every month. These Mungyeong apples come from the south of the Sobaek Mountains, where the weather is ideal and the limestone soil conducive for apple growing, so they are very sweet and juicy.

If you are looking for food there are a lot of places to eat everywhere so you won’t go hungry. You can get the names of the restaurants from the homepage.

Mungyeong porcelain exhibition hall Porcelain made by masters and intangible cultural assets in Mungyeong that is famous for its traditional porcelain is being displayed at Porcelain Exhibition Hall. The Porcelain Exhibition Hall (Confucian Culture Hall) consists of the Porcelain exhibition room, the Suseok Exhibition room, the porcelain exhibition and sales corner, a rest room, a collection room, an office and the R & D room.
The “Korean Traditional Tea Cup Festival” is held here in May every year.

Mungyeong is the center of Suseok and is well known to Suseok lovers throughout the whole country. Suseok in Mungyeong has all the conditions such as transparency, irregularity and color. The Suseok Exhibition Room is especially dedicated to Suseok.

Birth home site of Lee Gang Nyeon

And now we are going to visit a few of the important houses in Mungyeong.The birth home site of Lee Gang Nyeont Wanjng-ri, Gaeun-eup, is worth a visit. It is the birth-home of Lee Gangnyeon who was general of the anti-Japan Civil soldiers. His family origin is Jeonju, nickname is Nakin and pen name is Ungang and he was raised at Wanjang-ri, Gaeun-eup, Mungyeong County.
He took office of Seonjeongwanby passing at military service examination in 1879 (the 16th year of the King Gojong), but he returned to his home town leaving the position behind when Gapshinjeongbyeon(happened in 1884 (the 21st year of the King Gojong). He performed anti-Japan activities for 13 years, and was conferred posthumous honors on Daehanmingukjang, metal for contribution to country establishment in 1962.
He wrote Ungangmunjipand, his pupils and followers compiled「Ungangseonsaeng Changuirok」.

House of Go Byeong Suk in Nokmun-ri, Mungyeong

House of Go Byeong Suk in Nokmun-ri, Mungyeong

This house is one of the old houses of the Gaeseong Go’s family living in Nokmun-ri, Mungyeong.
It was established by Go Mongik (1780 ~1851) who settled down for the first time in the early stage of the 19th century in 1828(the 28th year of the King Sunjo), and after then, his descendents had been lived there. But as it faced destruction in the end of the 1930s, the current owner has preserved it and managed it till now.
This house shows the construction trends in the 19th century well as Jungmun located in the front gate of Sarangchae, lots of receipt space, storage rooms, and low doorsill etc. Especially, the 8-edged roof of front gate building and the trend shown at upper part of center column of Sarangdaecheong are rare construction trend.

Well, guess that’s about it for now, see you next time.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Discovering Gyeongsangbuk-do, Yecheon-gun

I thought that since we are already in Andong, we might as well see what else Gyeongsangbuk-do has to offer. I know what I’ll do; I’ll go from one county to another until I finish the whole of Gyeongsangbuk-do. How does that sound to you? For a start let’s visit some place near to Andong first before venturing much further. How about the county of Yecheon bordering Andong to the north?

Vist Yecheon In the introduction on the homepage it says “visit Yecheon, the village with clean water and warm hearted people, a village of loyalty and filial piety. I’m sure I’m going to like it here. Looks like, we’ll be taking the country roads for a change. Yecheon may be just a small town and not so populated as Andong, to be considered a city. but it doesn’t mean that Yecheon-eup is lacking in its tourist attractions. From what I’ve seen from the picture gallery I ‘m very impressed. Before a town can join the ranks of a city, the population in that town has got to reach a certain target; it doesn’t matter upon the size of the town, it’s the population that counts. So things should be cheaper since Yecheon is just a eup. Ever wondered what do the words like do, dong, myeon and gun usually found in Korean addresses mean? I happened to come across an explanation about that on this website http://en.allexperts.com and now I’m better informed on this subject.

There are two levels of administration in the Korean system, the Provincial level and the Municipal level. The Provincial level, more of a national thing, consists of the 8 Korean provinces (do) namely Gyeonggi-do, Gangwon-do, Chungcheongbuk-do, Chungcheongnam-do, Jeollabuk-do, Jeollanam-do, Gyeongsangbuk-do and Gyeongsangnam-do, the only Special Self-governing Province (teukbyeol-jachido) of Jeju-do, the Special city (teukbyeol-si) of Seoul-si and the 6 Metropolitan cities (gwangyeok-si) of Busan-si, Incheon-si, Daegu-si, Gwangju-si, Daejeon-si and Ulsan-si.

Whereas the Municipal level consists of the other Cities (si) (non-Metropolitan,) Counties (gun), Wards ( gu), Towns (eup), Townships (myeon), Neighborhoods (dong) and Villages (ri). You will note that the North Gyeongsang Province when translated into Korean will become Gyeongsangbuk-do. The buk-do stands for north-province. So it is wrong to write it as Gyeongsangbuk-do province when written in English, it should just be North Gyeongsang Province (minus the buk-do.)

This place we’re going to, Yecheon-eup, is in the county of Yecheon-gun. Yecheon-eup used to be a myeon before it was promoted to a eup. "Myeons” have smaller populations than "eups” and represent the rural areas of a county or city. Myeons are then subdivided into villages ("ri"). I hope that I haven’t confused you. I just want to let you know how big a eup is as compared with a city or si.

City or not, do you know that Yecheon was the training ground for the national archers in the South Korean archery team? It was also responsible for holding the archery games in the 22nd Daegu Summer U Sports Festival in which 250 persons (players: 152 persons, managers: 98 persons) from 28 countries participated, held at the Jinho International Archery Field, Cheongbok-ri, Yecheon-eup. That’s quite an achievement for a rural town isn’t it? Well Yecheon, with its beautiful natural scenery has often been called the rural city of the future for nothing.


Are you ready to go to Yecheon-eup? Then let’s go! On our way there we shall make a little stop at Jeongchung-sa located at Gopyeong village in Yecheon-gun. It is a museum built in 1980 for the remains of Yakpo Jeong Tak, a famous minister under King Seonjo of the Joseon Dynasty. Two national treasures are to be found here, Yakpo-yeongjeong, a portrait that was commissioned by the king, and the document containing the daily records of the Japanese Invasion, which is a valuable relic now. The Yakpo shrine, Cheongpungja Jeong Yunmok that enshrines Yakpo and his son is also located here.

A filming location of Hwang Jini was the Byeongamjeong Pavilion, a 15 minutes drive from Yecheon-eup on the way to Yongmun. This pavilion frequently appeared in the drama as the place where Hwang Jiny and Eunho met secretly, and was also the scene of Eunho’s death. Perched serenely on a rock that stands like a folding screen, Byeongamjeong pavilion and the pond with lotus blossoms offer a beautiful view. A lovely arched bridge was built across the pond, creating an even more romantic ambience. See, the producer of this wonderful drama even knows how to come here for the beautiful scenery. What did I tell you?

Hoeryongpo VillageHow many of you saw the drama “Autumn in my Heart?” Hoeryongpo Village is a famous island village in Yonggung-myeon, Yecheon-gun, in a land with strange geographical features, surrounded by the meandering Naeseongcheon River, a tributary of the Nakdonggang River. To get to Hoeryongpo Viewpoint from where you can get a beautiful view of the surrounding area you have to travel a narrow and winding road. It’s worth it because the view is so….. beautiful looking down over the landscape with a river meandering around an island. For many years the island was only connected by a little bridge to the mainland which meant that the people living on this little island were often cut off from the outside world. However, a few years ago a new road has been built for the islanders.

There is a natural park with a path up the mountain with a few historic spots such as the Wonsanseong (castle) and the Bongsudae (beacon mound) to explore.

Entrance to Jangansa

There is also the 1000-year-old Buddhist temple, the Jangan-sa which was founded by Wunmyeong-seonsa during the Shilla dynasty period here. From the pavilion of the temple, or at Hoeryongdae Hill on Mt. Biryongsan one can get a great view of the Hoeryongpo village below. There used to be about twenty families living in this village about 7-8 years ago, but now, it has been reduced to just nine.

The 500-year-old nettle tree Hwangmokgeun (a natural monument), which pays tax in Geumnam-ri is also located in the vicinity. Some people say that the tree has magic, thus many people visit this tree to pray.

In the Bomun-myeon in Yecheon county is the Mt. Hakga Urea National Forest. This recreational forest is located in a remote and unspoilt region of Yecheon County. It lies just to the north of Mt. Hakga which is one of the famous mountains in northern Gyeongsang-buk-do. Mt. Hakga which took its name after a red crowned crane that had appeared there, offers a great view of Yecheon, Andong and Yeongju from its summit.

Bomun-sa Buddhist temple

On Mt. Hakga is the Bomun-sa which was founded by Eusang-daesa (a Buddhist monk) in 676 A.D. during the Shilla Dynasty. It is the oldest Buddhist temple in Yecheon county. The temple consists of the Geukrakjeon or main hall ( a cultural asset), Yeombuldang (a building for praying), Sanshingak (a building) and a 3-story stone pagoda (a cultural asset) with a wonderful view. Bojoguksa Jinul (a Buddhist monk) rebuilt the temple in 1185 in the reign of King Myeongjong during the Goryeo Dynasty.

MT.Hakga Urea National ForrestThe Hakgasan Urae Recreational Forest can be reached by taking a relaxing drive on the road beside the river. The log cabins, located within the forest, complement its natural surroundings. A beautiful mountain trail runs above the forest, and you can reach the peak in about two hours. Other facilities such as a campfire site, an outdoor performance stage, a children’s playground, a fitness center, two water pools, are also available. A Snow sledding slope, a Community Kitchen, a Forest Museum and lecture rooms are slated to be built. Accommodation is available if you want to spend the night here.

Who wants to go to the “spring of youth?” The Yecheon Hot Spring is one of the top three hot springs of Gyeongsangbuk-do along with Punggi Hot Spring and Mungyeong Hot Spring. Yecheon Hot Spring located in the village of Gwanhyeon-ri, is proud of its clean and gentle waters, which make the skin soft and smooth by removing fat from the body. The nutrients in the water also have anti-aging properties. I wouldn’t mind staying here if I can remain young forever.

Seated Iron Buddha At Hancheonsa A few kilometres north of the Yecheon Hot Springs, is the Hancheonsa temple which was built by monk Ui-sang in the year 676 A.D. Its statue, Cheoljoyeoraejwasang, (a National Treasure), is Korea's oldest iron Buddha. This seated iron Buddha is an outstanding example of the typical iron Buddhas produced during the Shilla Kingdom. It is considered to be one of the best iron Buddhas to be found from the closing years of the Shilla Kingdom.

Yongmun-sa(Buddhist temple)This next temple we will be visiting is the Yongmun-sa, a temple located in the village of Naeji, which is not far from here. It has a 1000 year old history and is a treasure house of sorts because many cultural assets can be found here. It was founded by Duwun-daesa (a Buddhist monk) in the year 870 A.D. in the reign of King Gyeongmun, of the Shilla Dynasty.

Daejangjeon or the main hall (a national treasure), and oldest wooden building here was built in 1173. Daejangjeon houses the Hubultaeng (a Buddhist painting) the oldest Buddhist art work in Korea, made from the jujube tree in the reign of King Sukjong of the Joseon Dynasty, that is hung just behind the statue of Buddha.

Yunjangdae is the hall for the Sutras that only Yongmunsa Temple possesses among domestic Buddhist temples across the country. It also possesses the only Wunjangdae (a national treasure), a revolving-type of Buddhist scriptures storage.

You can also find the Mokbul-jwasang (the wooden Buddhist statue) and Mokgaktaeng or wood craft, (a national treasure) carved on a jujube tree here.

The Hall of Eight Paintings of Sakyamuni’s Life in Yongmunsa Temple is where there is a mural depicting the life of Buddha from his birth to his ascension to Nirvana in eight scenes, a work that represents a continuity of painting tradition and trends of painting during the early Joseon Dynasty .

The Cheonbuljeong or Buddhist painting on hemp shows one thousand Buddhist images, painted on one piece of paper which is considered the oldest in any existing paintings that described 1,000 Buddhas. This painting was based on the ideology that pursued the worship of many Buddhas during the Joseon Dynasty.

The Yongmunsa-gyoji (a national treasure) that King Sejo wrote provides an insight into the conservation of Buddhist temples during his reign , reflecting his policy to promote Buddhism. This was hand written by King Sejo himself and is precious material for studying the handwriting of a king of the Joseon Dynasty.

There is a Yeocheon Gwon Family house that holds Daedongwunbugunok, the first encyclopedia and Chogan-ilgi and 'Choganjeong' which was founded by Chogan Gwon Munhae. A long time ago, monks spun them while they underwent discipline. Those wooden treasures are only opened to the public twice a year Anything special you want to wish for? Then turn the big old "wishing" wheels and make your wish.

According to legend, King Taejo of the Goryeo Dynasty was visiting Duwun-daesa when two dragons suddenly appeared and led him to the temple. King Taejo named the mountain Yongmun Mountain (meaning dragon gate) and the temple Yongmun-sa. Please do not confuse yourselves with another temple of the same name but in the province of Gyeonggi-do.

There are four very old and famous trees in Yecheon-gun which have been classified as monuments. We’ll be able to see the Seoksongryeong as it is nearby to the Yecheon Hot Spring.



This multi-caulis which stands at the entrance to Seokpyeong village is 10m tall and 3.6m wide. It is said to have been transplanted here by someone who pulled it out of the flood water in Seokgan stream about 6 centuries ago. An old man named Lee Soo-Mok who had no heir donated all his wealth to this tree 1920 years ago. On the first full moon of the Lunar year, religious rites are performed before this tree.


This old and large tree, a hackberry, which is thought to be approximately 5 centuries old, is 15m tall and 3.2m in diameter. This richest tree that owns the largest land (12,232㎡) in Korea and pays tax to the government was given the family name of Hwang (meaning that it always blooms yellow flowers in May) and the first name of Mok-Geun (meaning a tree of noble origin).

Saburi Pine Tree

This species of pine tree has been an important subject for academic research because of its peculiar appearance. It is 2 centuries old and 8m high. Though pine trees are usually multicaulis shaped and have straight branches at acute angles, this pine tree has branches that are nearly right angles and is a mutation between a peculiar-looking pine tree and a multicaulis.

Aromatic Tree of Jukrim-ri

This is a tree called Juniperus chinensis which is 10m in height and 0.6m in diameter, and is estimated to be approximately 3 centuries old.

Huiryeonggun Eosageum in Gugye-ri, is where you can see the geomungo (a Korean zither-like instrument) that King Taejong of the Joseon Dynasty awarded to Huiryeonggun Ta, his sixth son. It is 120.3cm long, 15.9cm wide and 12cm thick, just a little bit smaller than the geomungo which is currently being produced. It was exquisitely finished with the image of a dragon’s head and the tail of a phoenix, the fabulous bird, and its tortoise shell is covered with soft cow leather.

The Ijeongsa Shrine also in Gugye-ri, is a shrine built to perform religious rituals for Huinyeonggun Lee Ta, the 6th child of King Taejong during the Joseon Dynasty. It was originally seated in Gwangju, but was rebuilt by Lee Byeong-seong in Gugye-ri, the 13th descendant to perform ritual services from generation to generation.

Cheongdan-noreum Masque

The Cheongdan-noreum(Masque) which is something similar to the Andong Mask Dance, is held annually in October at the Yecheon Student Indoor Gymnasium. It is a traditional pantomime masque which originated from Cheongbok village, Yecheon, and which has been handed down through the ages. Yecheon-eup won the minister's prize in the national folk art contest in 1981 and 1987. It is said that a wealthy man put together a drama group and toured around the nation with the show, trying to find his lost family at the same time. He found them in the village of Dongbon-ri, Yecheon-eup and must have stopped performing. After that there were frequent fires in Yecheon-eup, which were believed, to have been caused by the power of the Cheongdan-noreum (Masque). So the residents revived the drama and passed it down for many generations. The dance in the drama is mainly composed of the following characters:- Waemachi, Saemachi, Salpuri and Deotbaegi. The whole drama comprises of 6 scenes enacted by Gwangdaepan-noreum (the masque performer), Haengeu-noreum, Juji-noreum (the Buddhist monk), Jiyeon-gwangdae-noreum (the clown), Ealraebanga-noreum (the miller) and Mudong (the little dancing boy).

Seonmongdae, located in Baeksong-ri, Yecheon-gun is a pavilion founded in 1563 by Wuam Lee Yeoldo, the eldest grandson of Twaegye Lee Hwang. Lee Hwang wrote the three letters of 'Seon-mong-dae'. The autographs of respected scholars of those days such as Tawegye Lee Hwang, Yakpo Jeong Tak, Seoae Ryu Seongryong, Kim Sangheon and Lee Deokhyeong are on exhibit.
It has a great view of the sands of Naeseongcheon in Daewi, makes a great place for a summer resort. Nearby places for sightseeing are 'Seodang-maeul' (a folk village) with a sandy river and pinewoods, 'Yeongan-isi-byeoljwagong-jongtaek' (an old house of the Yeonan Lee family), Jeongchung-sa (a Buddhist temple) with the remains of Yakpo Jeong Tak, a famous minister under King Seonjo, which was our first stop on our way to Yecheon and Dojeong-seowon (a memorial hall).


Myeongbong-sa (a Buddhist temple) situated in the village of Myeongbong in Yecheon-gun was founded by Duwun-seonsa (a Buddhist monk) in the year 875A.D. during the reign of King Heongang, of Shilla Dynasty. It contains the ‘King Munjong Taeshilbi (a monument), the Gyeongcheong-seonwonjajeok-Seonsaneungwuntapbi (a monument)’, which is an important historic landmark that was built in the year 941A.D during the reign of King Taejo, of the Goryeo Dynasty, Daewungjeon (Main temple), Sanshingak (building), Budo (pagoda), a 5-story stone pagoda and others. There are many big trees around the main gate, which makes it cool even in summer, and many people enjoy taking their vacations in the surrounding valleys. Along Imdo (road), there is ‘Yongdu Park’, which lies on the border with Danyang-gun, Chungcheon-bukdo. Since it has a path up a mountain and beautiful view, it provides a great vacation spot.

Though the stone chamber that preserves the umbilical cord of ‘King Munjong the Great’.was built on the peak of the mountain behind the main building of Myeongbongsa Temple in 1735, it was relocated to the courtyard on the right side of the Main Buddha hall.

The Jajeokseonsaneunguntapbi of Gyeongcheonseonwon is the sarira pagoda of Jajeokseonsa, a Buddhist monk, which was erected in the year 941 A.D. It is located about 50m northeast of the main hall of the Myeongbongsa Temple.

The Yunbyeol Dongmyo is a Bulcheonwi shrine that performs religious service to Byeoldong (pen name) of Yoon Sang, a great scholar from the early Joseon Dynasty who entered the government service for the first time as a home town official of Yecheon and rose to the status of Daesaseong, a high governmental post. The shrine is a doubled tile-roofed house with three compartments in the front and one and a half compartments at the side.

Geumdangshil Traditional VillageThe Geumdangshil Traditional Village in Sanggeumgok-ri, Yongmun-myeon (Geumdangshil) is where the 1st king of the Joseon Dynasty wanted to build his capital, which is one of the Shipseung-jiji (10 safe places). There are many cultural assets here including a dolmen from the Bronze Age, Geumgok memorial hall for 3 people of the Hamyang Park family, the shrine for Park Jongrin (the originator of Hamyang Park family) (Folk material), Hansongjae-gotaek (a Cultural asset) Old house for the minister Kim bin under King Sukjong’s rule, Sagwaedang-gotaekk (a Cultural asset) Old house for Byeon Eungnyeong (the founder of the Wonju Byeon family), the land for the 99 roomed big house of Yangju-daegam (minister) Lee Yuin and many other renovated houses. The 100-year-old pine trees around Yongmun middle school and a 300 year old zelkova tree in front of Yongmun-myeon office provide the shade for the rest area.

The Sacrificial Ritual Room of Yecheon Cheongju Jeong Family in Bon-ri, Homyeong-myeon Is a structure for family burial and sacrificial rites which was built by Jeong Si-Hyeong, the grandson of Yakpo Jeong Tak in the 17th century in memory of his grandfather. It has a straight line-shaped lodge with 6 compartments, and a room for the sacrificial rites.

The Ancestral Shrine in Jiksan-ri, Homyeong-myeon is an ancestral shrine built about 4 centuries ago in memory of Heobaekdang Kim Yang-jin. A shrine is seated on the hill surrounded by an oblong wall on the right side of the ancestral shrine.

Mui Private School in Mu-i-ri, Yonggung-myeon is an auditorium built by Lee Ji-seom and Lee Sik in 1710 to perform ancestral rituals for Lee Yun-su, their ancestor, who was from Yeoju. It is a half-hipped tile-roofed house with four compartments in front and two compartments at the side, surrounded by rectangular earthen and stone walls. A shrine is located around a doubled tile-roofed house with three compartments on the hill behind the auditorium.

Santaek - lotus flower Park A great view of lotuses in full bloom at the Santaek lotus flower Park can be seen along national road No. 34 (Dangjin –Yeongdeok) in July and August. The Santaek rest area is just on the opposite side.

Samgang TavernSam River is the place where the Naeseongcheon, Geumcheon and Nakdong Rivers join. It has a great view, clean water and broad sands. It used to be a gateway to Seoul. Travelers had to cross the Sam River by ferry before continuing to Mungyeong-saejae (ridge). The last inn along the Nakdong River, the Samgang Tavern, is located under a 500 year old pagoda tree.

Samgang Hall (a cultural asset) is composed of a lecture room and a hall, which was founded by Jeong Yunmok in 1620 and 4 Chinese letters are written on a tablet.

Well did you enjoy your tour of Yecheon-gun? We visited a lot of places didn’t we? But one thing I know for sure is that Yecheon-gun, the home of clear water, warm hearts, loyalty, and filial piety will remain in my heart forever.

Guess that’s about all for now.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Of Masks and Mask Dances

Think of Andong and which festival instantly comes to mind? The most famous festival in Andong is without doubt the Andong International Mask Dance Festival which is held every year starting the last Friday of September and lasting for 10 days, held either at the Hahoe Village or at the Andong Gangbyeon Festival Grounds. This festival showcases the domestic as well as the traditional dances from countries around the world.

Before one can really appreciate the meaning and beauty of the Korean Mask Dance one has to have a little knowledge about the masks that are being used, as well as the story behind the mask dance dramas. So let’s take a look at some of the masks first which I “borrowed” from the Hahoe Mask Museum’s website.

The Hahoe Byeongsan Masks are the oldest type of masks in Korea and are used in the Hahoe Byeolsin-gut T'al-nori.

Imae Imae: A Fool

As the legend goes, Imae T'al is the mask without a chin. He plays the role of a foolish person and the servant of the Sonbi. His figure is roughly distorted, but discloses his naivety. His crooked nose reveals that one of his four hands and legs is deformed. The downslanted eyes signify that he is free from malice.
Dancing form: Imae's faltering steps.

Ch'oraengi: The Hasty Scatterbrained Meddler

The characteristics of Ch'oraengi are generally flippant expressions of a slave of the Yangban. His twisted and firmly closed mouth shows his discontented expression. The protruded forehead means the stubborn figure who disagrees with his master. His short nose represents his hasty actions.
Dancing form: Ch'oraengi's frivolous steps.

Kaksi : The Bride

Kakshi enters as a substitute of the local goddess. She is generally quiet and calm, but her lips are firmly closed. This expression connotes that she is trying to keep her new marriage, and her tough life in her heart. She wears long tresses of hair in front and back. These show she only moves her head of hanging tresses when she is walking Dancing form: Kakshi's soft steps.


Chuji : The Lion

This mask is similar to wings or fins. Chuji means lion in a Korean dialect. In another version of the mask dance, Chuji is called a pheasant-fight.

Dancing form: Chuji's fluttering steps.

Paekchong The Butcher

Paekchong : The Butcher

The generally ill-tempered nature of Paekchong T'al shows a malicious figure with murderous intent when his head droops. When he leans backwards he has an insane grin because of his sense of guilt derived from killing bulls. His crooked forehead signifies he is of a sinister and cruel nature. Dancing form: Paekchong's perverse steps


Halmi : The Old Widow

Enters Halmi, the extremely poor old widow due to her hardship in life. The expressions around her eyes disclose the elderly strength derived from a person who has tasted the sweetness and bitterness of life. Her mouth shows the hungry expression, and her upward peaked head means that her later life is unfortunate. Dancing form: Halmi's hip dance.


Chung : The Depraved Buddhist Monk

He is not a monk who trains himself at a Buddhist temple, but a wandering and depraved monk whose grin is roughly insidious. The crescent-shaped eyes accord with his characteristics revealed in his lecherous behavior. Dancing form: Chung's deceitful steps.


Yangban : The Aristocrat

Yangban T'al is viewed as the masterpiece best representing the aesthetic value among Hahoe masks. Its expression is generally gentle, mixed with bombastic and leisurely expressions, just as goes the saying; "Yangban picks his teeth, even when he drinks water". The separate chin with a hanging string makes firm the mouth when drooping the head, and thus changes himself into an angry face. Dancing form: Yangban's swaggering steps.


Sonbi : The Scholar

Sonbi's expression reveals his ever disgruntled state not by adapting himself to common social structure. Additionally, he shows his dignity as a scholar and his unscholarly arrogance. The wide bridge around the tip of his nose and the developed cheekbone fit the scholarly figure. Dancing form: Sonbi's long strides.


Pune : The Flirtatious Young Woman

Pune's oval face, crescent-shaped eyebrows, high nose, and small mouth are considered as the conditions of a beauty in our conventional society. She enters as a concubine and singing and dancing girl of Yangban and Sonbi. The lewdness around the outer corners of her eyes and mouth signifies that she is a wanton woman. The crescent-shaped eyebrows mean that she is endowed with the artistic quality. Dancing form: Pune's elegant steps.

There were originally fourteen of these much treasured Masks but three of them, the (Chongak [Bridegroom], Byulchae and Ttuckdari-t'al) were lost. The remaining eleven the (Imae, Ch'oraengi, Kakshi, Chuji, Paekchong, Halmi, Chung, Yangban, Sonbi and Pune,) have been designated as National Treasure #121.

Hahoe masks are superior to other masks in their realistically formative beauty and their functions. They respectively bring to life all the human emotions of joy, anger, sadness and pleasure, according to their different roles in the mask dance dramas. They are constructed naturally. The mouths will open and close. The movements of the chins during conversation expose the feelings of the characters very well. It is historically appreciated that Kakshi, Pune, and Halmi Masks do not have nostrils. Their mouths are small and reveal the social status and nature of the day. The nobleman, scholar, monk, and the butcher masks have separate chins and function just like a human jaw structure that enables the realistic sense of real mouth figure when having a conversation, which is a unique characteristic that can't be observed in other masks. For instance, if the clown behind the mask leans backward to laugh, the mask presents a smiling face with a wide-open mouth, and if he bends down his head when angry, the mask has a shut mouth, angry expression with the chin and the upper lips compressed together. As supporting this, a saying "A mask is sacred: if the clown in the mask smiles, the mask smiles too, and if the clown gets angry, the mask shares the anger, too." is passed on. Thus, they are recognized as prominent masterpieces throughout the world, especially the Masks of Yangban, Sonbi, Chung, and Paekchong.

Know why the mask of the Fool, has no chin? There’s a legend to it apparently. It seems that a young man named Huh doryong who lived in Hahoe village had a revelation in his dream from the guardian deity of his village. On the following morning he devoted himself to making masks. He performed his ablutions and spread forbidden strings to prohibit strangers from entering his house. A young girl who was ardently in love with him wanted to know what he was doing. So she peeped through a hole she had made into Huh doryong's window-paper. Her actions violated the divine rule of Huh doryong who coughed out blood and died instantly. Thus, he could not finish making the chin of the Imae Mask, his last work. The Imae Mask, without a chin, has been handed down through the generations. The people of the village built an altar near the shrine of a local god. Sacrifices were made every year for the sake of comforting Huh doryong's spirit. No trace, however, of the altar has been found.

These Korean wooden masks or tal, are difficult to carve, but they are beautiful works of art. The wood used to make the Hahoe masks are all alders. Wooden masks, which used to represent the mainstream of masks before they began to be made of paper and gourd, have rapidly disappeared from the scene. Nowadays the only ones that we can find are those belonging to the mask dance performers in the different regions of Korea.

However there is one mask known as the Bangsangssi mask which is not intended to be worn, but which is used to dispel evil spirits and normally placed at the head of funeral processions. The Bangsangssi tal was used for exorcising evil sprits in funeral customs exorcising ceremonies, from as early as the Shilla Dynasty until the Chosun Dynasty. It was placed in front of a funeral bier and buried near the grave or burnt after each use, so a new one was produced for every funeral service. The materials used to produce Bangsangssi were wood, paper, straw and bear skin. Bangsangssi had two to four golden eyes and wore red upper clothes and a black skirt with spear and a shield held in its hands. Bangsangssi made of wood was used for the government or powerful gentry, those made of paper for general noble class and those made of straw for common people.

Thus, the Hahoe Byeongsan Masks are recognized as prominent masterpieces throughout the world, especially the Masks of Yangban, Sonbi, Chung, and Paekchong.

There’s another important factor you should know in connection with the Korean Mask Dance. Shamanism has played an important role in the lives of the Korean people since ancient times. It has been deeply embedded in their hearts and influencing them in their daily lives. Koreans believe that the souls of the departed are present among them, sharing their joys and sorrows, and that their ancestors’ souls protect their descendents from generation to generation. Thus the shamans have been used as mediators in communicating with the gods when asking for protection from misfortune and disaster or for good luck etc. It is through the gut, the Korean shamanic ritual, consisting of song and dance that the Koreans have found much hope and courage throughout their lives. Gut, based on the lengthy historical experience of the Korean people has become a part of the Korean culture.

All the different types of traditional Korean dances come with different names, and t'al-nori is the name of the traditional Korean performance style, in which each performer wears a mask and makeup corresponding to the role played. The t'al-nori has maintained its original folk drama characteristics by its continual performance and appreciation from the common class people. So what’s the best description for a t'al-nori? The t'al-nori sits somewhere between a comedy show and a shamanic ritual, but it is more like a highly satirical dance drama, acted outdoors in a circular amphitheatre. The satires and parodies usually play on the human weakness, the many evils of the contemporary age, and the luxurious noble class. The colors of the mask can often symbolize the age and gender of the performer - a black mask is used for an older person, a red mask is used for a young man, and a white mask is used for a young woman. The nong-ak music is used to accompany the t'al-nori.

There are several different mask dance dramas, each one for a different Korean festival, and there are fourteen different Korean mask dances that are still being performed today. But I can tell you only about the Hahoe Byeolsin-gut T'al-nori which originated in Andong.

Korean Mask Dance Drama can be classified under two categories, the Sonang Ritual Mask Dance (the village shaman) and the Sandae Mask Dance Drama. (the mountainous stage) The Hahoe Byeolsin-gut T'al-nori belongs to the former and practises the comprehensive village ritual of Byeolsin-gut while preserving its dramatic characteristics. Village sacrificial rituals have been performed on the 15th day of the 1st lunar calendar month and on the 8th day of the 4th lunar calendar month (Buddha's birthday) of each year in the Hahoe Maeul. The Seonghwangshin of the Village was called the goddess born in the year of Mujin, and the annual ritual for this Seonghwangshin was known as Dongje (or Dangje i.e. Village Ritual). Byeolsin-gut T'al-nori together with Dongje have been performed by an oracle (god-descending) every three, five, or ten years whenever diseases or epidemics occurred in the village.
Byeolsin-gut is composed of four parts - god-descending, greeting god, pleasing god, and sending off god. Byeolsin-gut T'al-nori belongs to the third part, that is, pleasing god and is believed to be able to drive away disasters and to bring forth blessings for the village people. The essence of Byeolsin-gut T'al-nori is to portray the conflicting relationships between the Yangban (ruling class) and Sangmin (ruled class) by disclosing falsehood of Yangban and the Sonbi (the then ruling classes). It reveals the depraved Buddhism in those days through the enactment of Chung in the mask dance, of a Buddhist Monk's violation of a commandment, and satirically delineates the joys and sorrows of the ruled common people. Likewise, the common class people of Hahoe Maeul had no reluctance to satire the society and also to reveal their suppressed feelings. Byeolsin-gut T'al-nori, which criticized the ruling classes of the society in which status and order were highly observed, was performed under Yangban's tacit consent and financial support in Hahoe Maeul, the Yangban Village. The performance resulted in the harmonious life between the upper and lower classes, the Yangban and the Sangmin.

It was possible for the Sangmin to settle their oppressed feelings and for the Yangban to understand their way of life. Thus, the conflicts and problems between classes in the inner part of the community had passed through the shock-absorbing process of T'al-nori performed as one of village rituals of Byeolsin-gut and once more had the function to reinforce the existing structural systems of the community. The final Byeolsin-gut T'al-nori was performed in 1928, and was restored to the original state by the Research Society of the Hahoe Mask Dance Drama in 1973. The Korean government designated this T'al-nori as Important Intangible Cultural Property No. 69 on November 1980.

I think that is why the Hahoe Folk Village is unique from other folk villages in that both the upper class and the lower class lived together in the same village. Only thing is that the houses of the upper class were located in the village center, whereas those of the lower class were built on the outskirts. Another prominent feature is that the houses face in all directions from the center whereas most houses in other villages all face south.

The Hahoe Byeolsin-Gut T'al-nori has been performed for eight hundred years and consists of several scenes with vigorous dancing and music. Other dramatic portions are singing and the recitative text, mixing comic witchcraft and gestures. The content was often aimed at exposing and satirizing corrupt aristocrats. It evoked laughter and sighs through the antics of apostate monks, fallen aristocrats, priestesses, professional entertainers, servants, and other dramatic personality. The expression of masks and the regional variations is a feast for the eyes. This is a one-hour performance.

The following are scenes from the Hahoe Byeolsin-Gut T'al-nori. Enjoy yourselves.

Kangsin Madang

Kangsin Madang Scene

Kangsin (Invocation to a god) represents prayers for a local god to descend at the local shrine. Ringing bells on a god-descending tree symbolize the descent of the god. The other big tree hanging the bells becomes the divine body of the local god, and only when the bells on the tree stop ringing, can the Hahoe Byeolsin-Gut T'al-nori start.

Mudong Madang

Mudong Madang Scene Kakshi (The Young Girl) enters "on the shoulders of a man" (Mudong). Kakshi is the personification of the local goddess. Her frequent asking for rice and money may be traced to a divine origin. Her actions ensure virtues and blessings from the local goddess. Kakshi should never touch the ground. She is always above the common people. Playing the role of the local goddess is demonstrated by always being carried on the shoulders of a man.

Chuji Madang

Chuji Madang Scene Chuji signifies lions, and they sanctify the performing ground by driving away demons and evil spirits.

Paekchong Madang (The Butcher)

Paekchong (The Butcher) clip_image001[3]

Paekchong (The Butcher) has the instinct to strike down a bull and remove its heart and testicles. After that, Paekchong satirizes the authoritative attitudes of the ruling class who suppressed feelings toward sexuality. Paekchong makes fun of the ruling class with his humorous speech. His actions cause the spectators to laugh and be sympathetic as the act releases the ties of sexual taboos.

Halmi (The Granny)

Halmi The Granny

Halmi (The Granny) exposes her miserable life she has led since she became a widow when she was 15 years old by singing Beteulga (a song for a loom).

Chung Madang (The Wandering Monk)

Chung  Madang Scene Pune (The Flirtatious Girl) suddenly crouches and urinates. At that instant, Chung (The Wandering Monk) is stirred by watching her. They dance together and then are detected. This act satirizes man's instinctive conflict and reveals the corrupted state of the monks in those days.

The Yangban and the Scholar

Yangban and Sonbi

Yangban (The Aristocrat) and Sonbi (The Scholar) take pride in their status and knowledge in fighting to get Pune, the flirtatious girl. They cease to quarrel and dance together with Pune. They will fight again over buying the bull's testicles from Paekchong. They are criticized by Halmi and exit at the sound of "give your tax".

The simple Honrye Madang (wedding ceremony)

Honrye Madang Scene The simple Honrye (wedding ceremony) takes place on a straw mat prepared at a field near the entrance of a village after the sun sets. This act discloses the first night in the bridal room. Sleeping on the mat signifies fertility and productivity. It is generally believed the pair will produce a son.

Shinbang Madang Scene (the bridal room)

Shinbang Madang Scene

This act is held at midnight to keep alive the mood of the Shinbang (the bridal room). Chonggak (The Bridegroom) approaches Kakshi (The Bride) and loosens the knot of her upper wedding attire. He then embraces her and they lie down.

I almost forgot, we still haven’t been to the Mask Museum yet, I think I think I can still squeeze it in and then we would have done all the sights in Andong.

Dedicated to Korean masks, the Hahoe Mask Museum was opened in September 1995 near the entrance to Andong Hahoe Village. The museum was established by Kim Dong-pyo, a master craftsman, who is also the director of the museum. It is a two-story building exhibiting various masks from the region.

As I said earlier, the Hahoe Byeongsan Masks are the oldest type of masks in Korea that are used in the Hahoe Byeolsin-gut T'al-nori. The masks that you see at this museum are duplicates made by Kim Dong-pyo himself, as the originals are kept at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul. After three out of the fourteen original masks were lost, the remaining eleven were designated intangible cultural properties so they cannot afford to lose any more of them now that they are so valuable.

The reason for the masks’ survival over the centuries and handed down to this day can be attributed to their limited use. Reserved only for the annual Hahoe Byeolsin Gut drama, they were kept immediately after the drama. It is also believed that ritual taboos surrounding the masks during the rest of the year may have contributed to their preservation. Like human faces, the left and right sides of these masks are slightly asymmetrical and some have movable jaws, enabling a variety of facial expressions.
The Hahoe Mask Museum houses 300 Korean masks of 19 types including the duplicate Hahoe masks, together with 500 foreign masks from 35 countries. There are special displays illustrating the making of various masks and how they are used in performances and rituals.

Visitors can take part in a mask-making program using Korean hanji paper. In addition, the museum has wax dolls of Hahoe Byeolsin Gut drama characters and other accessories. The outdoor area of the museum is the site of various mask dance performances such as the International Mask Dance Festival for which Andong is so famous for. The museum also has an excellent gift shop with masks and a wide range of local handicrafts and souvenirs on sale.

And with the visit to the Mask Museum our tour to Andang has come to a close and with that I bid you farewell. Till next time, goodbye.