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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Discovering Gyeongsangbuk do – Uiseong-gun Part 2


“Each day in Uiseong is brighter than the last,” so it says on the homepage of Uiseong. It’s got to be because we didn’t get to do anything exciting yesterday except going on a temple and pagoda tour. So today I’m going to make it up to you by taking you on an extraordinary tour. Although Uiseong-gun is not a very big county in terms of area, it is made up of 1 eup and 17 myeons and the villages all seem to be famous for one thing or another. I don’t know where to begin.
Did you know that in Jeo-ri, Geomseong-myeon, some 115 million years ago dinosaurs used to roam in this area? I just can’t imagine how long ago that must have been, can you? 10, 20 and 50 years maybe, we can’t even live to be 100 but 115 millions years is beyond me.

Did you see the movie Jurassic Park? Yes, the term dinosaur here refers to the 5m to 25m long reptiles that roamed the earth from the Jurassic period through the Cretaceous period, just like the ones in the movie. Don’t believe me; you think I made this up? Well then, just take a good look at the photos.


Uiseong Fossilized dinosaurs footprint of Jeo ri 07
Uiseong Fossilized dinosaurs footprint of Jeo ri 03,

Fossils of dinosaur's footprints in Jeori, Uiseong were discovered during the extension work of a local road in 1989.
The footprints include those of 4-legged Sauropodas that are large-sized ultra herbivores; of mid-sized dinosaurs; of 2-legged mid-sized dinosaurs; and of other 2-legged fierce carnivores. There are 316 footprints on a 1,000sq.yd of land. These are precious resources of natural history revealing that this area became grassland as a river flooded over a high-temperature and high-humidity plain, and that it was a park where about 25 dinosaurs lived together.


Uiseong Fossilized dinosaurs footprint of Jeo ri 06

Uiseong Fossilized dinosaurs footprint of Jeo ri 04

The footprints of large, medium and small herbivorous and carnivorous dinosaurs were found here at the same time, so it can be assumed that the area was a habitat for dinosaurs. These footprints were left in the silt of the river that flowed here. The fossil of the dinosaur's footprints in Jeo-ri, Uiseong, reveals the dinosaur's foot size, foot step and foot direction and is very precious in studying the shape and life of the dinosaur. So, it is highly valued academically and has been designated and protected as Natural Monument #373.

Uiseong Fossilized dinosaurs footprint of Jeo ri 01,
  Uiseong Fossilized dinosaurs footprint of Jeo ri 02,

Dinosaurs became extinct 66 million years ago. There are a number of theories about the cause of their extinction such as changes in their food chain and drastic weather changes resulting from meteors. The latter is generally believed to be the most probable cause. 
                                          
So now seeing is believing isn’t it? There’s still another place that we need to go to but it’s a different type of scenery altogether. You have to see it to really appreciate its beauty. The Binggye Valley is not known as one of the eight beauties of Gyeongbuk, for nothing.

Uiseong Binggye Valley

Uiseong Binggye Valley 01

Uiseong Binggye Valley 05

As one of the eight beauties of Gyeongbuk, Binggye Valley is called Bingsan because it has an ice hole and a cool air hole.  Binggye is the stream that flows around the mountain and the village by the mountain is called Binggye-ri. In this mysterious valley, you can find amazing ice formations in the heat of summer and a hot stream in the dead of winter. Tall sheer cliffs rise up across from the village, and many fascinating stones are found in a clear stream that runs under the cliff.

Uiseong Binggye Valley 04

Uiseong Binggye Valley 07
Uiseong Binggye Valley 06

The rocks that rise in the middle of the stream were picked as one of the eight sceneries of Gyeongbuk on October 4, 1933.  The local people believe that the large writing of “Binggyedong” on one of the largest rocks (10m in height and 20m in circumference) in the valley was done by General Yeo Song Yi who stopped by here, during the Japanese Invasion of 1592.  A small stone monument reading, “The 1st of the Eight Sceneries of Gyeongbuk,” is erected on another large rock next to that. 

Scenery 1: Ice Hole
This is a space beneath a rock shaped like a room to fit 4-5 people.
Every spring, this hole begins to generate cold air.  In the middle of summer, it is frozen into ice.  After fall, the ice melts.  In the middle of winter, warm air comes out of the hole.  


Scenery 2: Cool Air Hole
Cool air comes out of the small, yet deep gap between the rocks by the road in Dong-gu every summer.  In winter, warm air comes out instead. This phenomenon is found by almost every rock in this region.  


Scenery 3: Inam Rock
It is a large rock that is 1.2m in width and 2.4m in height.  It is sitting in front of the former site of the Binggye Memorial Hall.  The sunlight forms a shadow shaped like 仁 (generous) around noon.  

 
Scenery 4: Euigak Pavilion
During the Japanese Invasion of 1592, Eun Bo Yoon brought the tablets of Mojae and Hoijae to Mt. Juwang and protected them for seven years.  After the war, he placed the tablets at a memorial hall.  His faith was highly praised and this pavilion was erected along with a monument to cherish his devotion.


Scenery 5: Sudae (Water Mill)
There used to be a large water mill where people used the stream to mill the grains every day, but it no longer exists today.  Binggyejeongsa Temple of Beophwa Order was erected nearby to attract many believers.
 
Scenery 6: Stone Pagoda  
It is a 5-story stone pagoda that was built in the late Shille Empire or early Goryeo Dynasty at the old site of Bingsansa Temple.  It is currently designated as Treasure No. 327. (I already wrote about this in my previous post)

Scenery 7: Vertex of Buddha
It is a ditch on top of Buljeong Peak.  The legend has it that this ditch was made by Buddha when he was fighting a dragon a long time ago.  

Scenery 8: Yongchu (Pond)
There used to be a deep pond beneath the steep cliff of the valley but now it’s almost filled up. People say that the dragon which Buddha fought against hit its head here to create a large hole in the rock.
That was spectacular wasn’t it? And now we shall visit some of the villages around here and see what we can find. Do you know that Uiseong is the #1 producer of garlic in Korea? I know there are some people who don’t like garlic, but to Asians, garlic is the main ingredient in most of their cuisine. Western medicine has recognized the health giving properties of the garlic, and that’s why they have garlic pill supplements in the market today.

Uiseung Native Garlic Village

The Uiseong Native Garlic Village, in Sami-ri, Chunsan-myeonis a mountainous village with about 83% of it being forest.
The cultivation history of Uiseong garlic goes back to 1526, when the Gyeongju Choi family and the Gimhae Kim Family moved to Chiseonri (Seonam Village), where they started the cultivation of the garlic.

Uiseong Garlic

Uiseong garlic has been refined and improved to meet the climate and soil conditions of Uiseong  and is now a natural species of Uiseong and has been cultivated from generation to generation. Uiseong Garlic is not of the foreign species. The Namdo Garlic and Daeseo Garlic (Spanish species) from abroad are not considered Uiseong Garlic although they are produced in Uiseong.

Uiseong Garlic 01 
Uiseong garlic is a quality species of garlic for the cold regions. The distinctive and unique climate here (great seasonal and diurnal differences of temperatures) and soils (shale), enhance the cultivation of the Uiseong garlic. They hibernate longer than foreign species, so the roots come out right after planting but they only sprout after the winter.

The stalk is so solid that it does not break when held upside down. Uiseong garlic has 6-8 cloves per bulb.  The cloves are firm and can be stored for a much longer time than the garlic from the other regions. The outer peel is nearly beige in color, however the inner peel surrounding the cloves is light brown.

They are farm garlic and not obstructed by repeated cultivation. The rice cultivation through the summer cleanses the soil and kills various insects and bacteria, so the garlic cultivated in such soil is cleaner and of better-quality as compared to the other districts.

It is known for its unique flavors and hot taste.  The cloves are very juicy and it only takes a few cloves to generate a strong flavor. When crushed, Uiseong Garlic produces more juice than the other species. It suppresses the sour taste and enables the combination of the five tastes equally when pickling vegetables into Kimchi. It can be distinguished from the garlic of other provinces due to its distinctly different flavor. Just a few cloves can slow down the fermenting process of Kimchi and keep it fresh for a longer period of time.  It is not only hot but also sweet. Uiseong garlic can reduce the sour taste of Kimchi. Kimchi that contains the juice of this garlic does not spoil easily even when small amounts are used.

Uiseong Jadu village 
Uiseong Jadu village 01

Let us now visit the Jadu Village in Anpyeong-myeon  More than 78% of it is covered with woods and fields, it was where the Oh Family of Haeju  settled when they first arrived in Uiseong about 400 years ago.  They, together with the other first settlers from 40 households including the Kim Family of Gimhae and the Jang Family of Suncheon,  have beautified the village and surrounding environments with their combined efforts. 


Uiseong Plums

The Anpyeong plum of Uiseong is cultivated in a high diurnal temperature difference and granite sediments to become large and  colorful with an extraordinary sweet and sour taste.  Recognized for its quality and value, it fetches high prices. Jadu Village’s clean and beautiful natural environment makes it perfect for growing plums. 

Amongst the various types of plums, the more popular are the Formosa for its large size and sweetness, the Jabong for its outstanding texture, color and sweetness, the reddish-orange Guiyang for its sweetness and juiciness and the new Chuhee for its color and sweetness with great taste and flavors.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Uiseong Hot Pepper is grown in the clear mountainous soils of Uiseong.  It has thick peels and produces a lot of hot pepper powder when dried.  It is widely used to make Kimchi and hot pepper paste, as it preserves the fresh taste of food.
Uiseong Jadu Village developed the mulching technique 30 years ago.  In particular, hot pepper of Uiseong is exposed to temperatures of 30℃ or higher and intensive sunlight between May and August.  These extreme climate conditions make Uiseong hot pepper highly nutritious and colorful.


The Origin of Hot Pepper.
Hot pepper is an annual plant of the Solanceae family or a short, perennial shrub.   
Hot pepper originated from South America and has a long history in the American Continent.  It is widely cultivated from tropical zones to moderate zones.  Hot peppers were introduced to Korea around the time when the cigarette was brought in and has been a great influence on the Korean diet.  Some say that hot peppers were introduced to Korea by the Japanese invaders who tried to use hot pepper to kill the people of Joseon.  However, many historical records in Japan write that hot peppers were introduced to Japan from Korea during the Japanese Invasion of 1592.

Korean people used to add a hot pepper into the jars of traditional sauces or tied red peppers and charcoal onto the ropes to announce the birth of a boy, because red hot pepper symbolized protection from bad spirits.
Uiseong Anpyeong Hot Pepper grows well in Anpyeong because it has the geographical, environmental, and climate conditions most suitable for growing hot peppers.

Therefore, even the same species of hot pepper tastes better when it is grown in Anpyeong. The use of more natural fertilizers than chemical fertilizers enhances the sweet taste of hot peppers while increasing their nutritional contents.  Also, as the size and quality of the fruits are determined by the method of cultivation, accumulated experiences and outstanding technology are highly important. 
 
The drying process is very important for hot peppers.  There are several different ways to dry them.  The ordinary drying process is to use the dryer. These days, sun-dried hot peppers are very popular because sunlight enhances the rich taste of hot peppers.


However, the technology of sun-drying determines the quality of the hot peppers.  Uiseong Anpyeong hot peppers are sun-dried in an eco-friendly way.


Uiseong Gido Village School 02 
The Gido Village School is located at Gido-ri in Anpyeong-myeon.  This village was dominated by the Ok Family of Euiryeong who were very dedicated in fostering the future generation to preserve the traditions. Anpyeong-myeon built the first village school in 1921 and used it to educate the local youths. The local rulers invited teachers from other regions in order to improve the quality of education. With the establishment of modernized schools, village schools are no longer used for educational purposes.  It was however repaired in 1979 for preservation purposes.

Uiseong Anpyeong Urigol 3.1 Movement Memorial Monument 01

Anpyeong Urigol 3.1 Movement Memorial Monument.
There were many independent activists who participated in the 3.1 Movement which originated from here.
Urigol’s beautiful land (Daesa-2-ri) was the home of a large independent movement.
The local people gathered at a church to share their anti-Japanese ideas and secretly collaborated with the neighboring villages to fight the Japanese invaders that had invaded and exploited Korea.


Uiseong Unramsa Temple

Uiseong Unramsa Temple 01 
Still in Anpyeong-myeon, but in another village, in Sinan-ri is the Unramsa Temple which-is located about 10m beneath the peak of Mt. Cheondeung.  About 1300 years ago, Priest Euisang established it for King Shinmun of the Shilla Empire.  The temple was named Unramsa Temple because it resembled a half moon rising above Mt. Cheongdeun in the clouds.  

The existing service hall called the Bogwangjeon is a 1300-year-old building.  It has been rebuilt many times till today. Inside the building are three statues of Buddha and some Buddhist paintings hang behind the statues.  The writings in Sanwanggak were created by Priest Beomjun around 1789.  There are three other buildings that still exist, along with a 3-storey stone pagoda and a spring. 


Uiseong Okryeonsa Temple02

Uiseong Okryeonsa Temple01

To the south of Mt. Bongdu, which is a part of Mt. Ilwol in Samchun-ri of Anpyeong-myeon is the Okryeonsa Temple.  This temple is thought to be established by Priest Euisang. 
 
Its name Okryeonsa came from the pond nearby which blooms beautiful lotus flowers.  The Geukrakjeon, the existing service hall, is a 7m-high and 6m-wide wooden building with tile roofing.  It has seven inner beam supports and nine outer beam supports. It is unknown exactly when this temple was built but the concave structure in the middle is the typical style of the Goryeo Dynasty.
There is a record to show that this temple was rebuilt in 1935.  Inside the Geukrakjeon, there is a statue of the Amitabha in the center.  In the rear, there are Buddhist paintings displayed at the back of the statue.  Other relics include a stone pagoda and another statue of Buddha.  The 6-story stone pagoda was originally enshrined in front of Geukrakjeon, but was moved to the east of the building by the former Master Priest Baekwol. The buildings have not been perfectly preserved though.


Uiseong Gray Heron Habitat

Uiseong Gray Heron Habitat 01 
Any birdwatchers here? Uiseong’s Gray Heron Habitat located at Jungryul-ri of Sinpyeong-myeon might please you.  Jungryul-ri is Korea’s greatest gray and white heron habitat and has been holding Gray Heron Festivals. Gray and white herons come here every February and March and stay until mid-July.  Seeing about 5,000 herons covering the mountain is more than what words can describe. 

Similar to white heron, gray heron is slightly bluish-gray in color.  Gray heron is also, if you remember, the symbolic bird of Uiseong-gun.

Uiseong Manchwidang Pavilion

Uiseongmanchwidang (Manchwidang Pavilion in Uiseong) Tangible Properties #169 can be found in Sachon-ri, Jeomgok-myeon. This hall, which was built in the style of the mid-Joseon period, took three years to complete.
Its name, Manchwidang, was derived from the pen name of Kim Sawon, who held a high military post under King Seonjo.

It was partially repaired in 1711, and in 1727 an additional structure called the Bokjae was built.
Small wings were added to both sides of the hall in 1764.
The hall has a half-gabled, half-hipped roof.
The eaves of the roof are supported by single, wing-like brackets. Except the Ondol room which has a heated floor, the floors of the hall are wood.


Uiseong Jeongmallok

The Jinju National Museum in Uiseong is home to the original manuscripts of the Jeongmallok (Battles and government and civilian situations during the 1592 Japanese Invasion of Korea) Regional Treasure #880.

Uiseong Jeongmallok 01

It was the journal of Yi Takyeong/Lee Tak-young (1541~1610), who was the staff officer in the Gyeongsanggamsa governor’s office at that time, serving under Kim Soo, an officer on patrol during the Japanese Invasion of Korea in 1592 and who greatly contributed to Korea's victory by proposing various tactics as an officer of Hakbong Kim, Seong-il in 1593. After the war, he refused a prize given by the government and was later promoted to Central Vice-Envoy.

Uiseong Jeongmallok 02

It consists of 2 volumes named Heaven, and Earth or Geon and Gon. This journal was written over a 7 year period from 1592 to 1598. The volume called Heaven contains a list of the seats of various government officials including the Prime Minister who participated in the war against the Japanese Invasion of Korea in 1592 on its rear book jacket, and the daily experiences under the title of ‘Imjinbyeonsaenghuilrok’. Imjin articles were written down on a daily basis but from 1593 to 1598 only important events were recorded by year and month. Except for the records of the 10 days starting April 14th, 1592, (the day of the out break of the war;) it has an almost perfect record of the Imjin war.
The volume called Earth starts with the beginning of the Japanese Invasion of Korea in 1592 and explains the reason why the daily records and circulars were recorded, and also lists important messages, circulars and manifestos. The records were complete from the beginning until the end of the war, except for the omission of the 10 days as stated above.
These books are valued as very precious historical documents for the study of the Japanese Invasion of Korea in 1592 and are even more valued as historical material due to the fact that the book ‘Jeongmanrok’ was named by King Seonjo.

Uiseong Garo Forest

The Roadside Forest or Garo Forest, in Sachon-ri Uiseong, Natural Monument #405 was created by Kim Mokgong, the progenitor of the Andong Kim's family when he moved from Andong to Sachon.
He planted a windbreaker  forest against a strong wind from the west plain of the village. Over 500 trees of 10 species including the Japanese Hackberry, and the Zelkova are growing in this forest.


Uiseong Oeammaeul village in Asan

Asanoeammaeul or Oeammaeul village in Asan (Important Folklore Materials #237). was known as "Sanwoon-ri" before. The exact date of its existence is unknown, but it has been known that the Yungcheon Yi family settled here during the reign of King Myungjong of the Joseon Kingdom. There are over ten traditional houses including the Woongokdang, and the Sowoodang in this village. It has been said that Yi Gabal, a past 6th generation grandfather of the present owner, built the Sowoodang in the early 19th Century and the inner house was reconstructed around 1880.

The inner house which was built in the shape of the Hangeul letter "ㄱ" and the detached house, the Hangeul letter "L," surround the yard, making the house formed like an open square. There is a room beside the gate to the south and an outside toilet to the west and another toilet in the northwest of the inner house. Another fence, to the west of the inner house, was placed to make space, so that a separate house could be built into it. Around the house there is a beautiful garden that has a pond and lots of trees and all the doors from the inner house and the detached house opened into the garden.

As an upper class house built in a simple and unsophisticated form, it is a good example of the outhouse building that shows the elegance and the refinement at that time.
 Uiseong Geumbong Recreational Forest 05

Uiseong Geumbong Recreational Forest 02 
And now to end our tour in Uiseong I’m going to take you to the Geumbong Recreational Forest in  Geumbong-ri Oksan-myeon where I feel like staying for the night. They say one can see the apple blossoms in spring; enjoy the cool stream waters and the serenade of crickets in summer, the gorgeous foliage in autumn, and splendid snowscapes in winter.


Uiseong Geumbong Recreational Forest 03
Uiseong Geumbong Recreational Forest

Uiseong Geumbong Recreational Forest 01
The hiking trails that surround Geumbong Recreational Forest, and promenades in Cheongseokgol Valley, will give you a chance to experience the rejuvenating calm of the forest. Also, the log cabins made of various woods such as oak, pine, white birch, and Korean spruce make you feel truly at home amidst nature.
And so it’s time to say goodbye once again. See you real soon. Happy New Year! 

 
 
 

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Discovering Gyeongsangbuk -do – Uiseong-gun Part 1

 

I am looking at the Uiseong County homepage and I already have a feeling that I’m going to like it here. The photographs are beautiful and I love the architecture of the buildings here.

Uiseong-gun Gyeongsangbuk-do

Uiseong-gun is right in the middle of Gyeongsangbuk-do. It is bordered by Andong-si and Yecheon-gun in the north, Cheongsong-gun in the east, Gunwi-gun and Gumi-si in the south and Sangju-si in the west.
It is divided into 1 eup, and 17 myeons

Uiseong Eup and Myeons

The Establishment of the Symbol Mark

Uiseong gun Emblem 

The oval figure and the soaring mountain configures ‘ㅇ’ and ‘ㅅ’ in the word ‘Uiseong’, which represents the future-oriented inspiration of leading the province of North Gyeong-sang as the best Uiseong and leading Uiseong, being the center of it in the 21st century, unified with the potency of the Uiseong county and the spirit of one-fortress-one-peace.

The Oval :

Uiseong gun Emblem The Oval

Configuring the ‘ㅇ’ in ‘Uiseong’, the oval symbolizes the broad range of the region and the generous and considerate hearts of the people in Uiseong.

The Projection in the Center :

Uiseong gun Emblem Projection in the Center

Configuring the ‘ㅅ’ in ‘Uiseong’, the 『Good place to live, Uiseong』of the 21st century represents the door of the new millennium and the future-oriented inspiration of rising as the center of North Gyeongsang province,

The Green Color

Representing agriculture as a vital industry, the green color stands for clean Uiseong.

The Red Color

Signifying the regional specialty products such as apples and peppers, the color red symbolizes the passion of the citizens in their response to the demanding county of Uiseong.

The Gold Color

The gold symbolizes the golden farming fields.

Uiseong Mascot 

The Mascot: Uidong

The Uiseong-gun mascot features the province’s specialty product, Garlic, which expresses the challenge to the future and progressive spirit, meaning strength of the town and implying its strong Uiseong-gun full of suggestions for the challenge and pioneering spirit of Uiseong-gun, achieving prominence as the center of Gyeongbuk Province.

It is the character which symbolizes Uiseong-gun with an act of kindness and through a service spirit.

Uiseong The 5 Brothers

The Five Righteous Brothers :

  • The eldest Son : Uiseong Yellow Earth Rice, the Second Son: Uiseong Jade Apple, the Third Son: Uiseong Garlic, the Fourth Son: Uiseong Clean Pepper, the Fifth Son: Uiseong Plum

    Uiseong Tree of the Town Zelkova Acuminata

    The County Flower: Crape-myrtle

    The Crape-Myrtle, blooming from early summer to autumn, is a elegant flower which symbolizes strong spirit of the citizens.

    Tree of the Town: Zelkova Acuminata

    Zelkova Acuminata is a gigantic tree that has longevity and great fertility which symbolizes the traditions and prosperity of the citizens.

    The County Bird: Common Heron

    The Common Heron is an elegant and serene bird, and it symbolizes wealth, which represents Uiseong.

    I love going on treasure hunts and there are 39 cultural properties to be found in Uiseong. Don’t look worried, we’ll only have time to visit a few of them, the more important ones. So be prepared to visit a few temples and pagodas. I shall start with the Uiseong Tamni Five Storey Stone Pagoda, as it is the #1 treasure in Uiseong being a national treasure. ( also spelt Tapri)

    Uiseong Tapri Five-Storey Stone Pagoda

    The Five Storey Stone Pagoda in Tamni, Uiseong, National Treasure #77, is a five-storey stone pagoda from the Unified Silla Kingdom. It is built on a low platform, and the tower is unique in displaying both a brick-tower-style, made of brick-shaped stones, and a wooden pagoda.

    The platform is made of several stones, and different types of stones are used for the pillars in the middle and one in the corner to make a wooden pagoda-shaped body. The first storey is higher than the second one, and from there, the height is drastically reduced, and a shrine containing a Buddhist statue is installed in the first storey. The first storey and the foundation on which it sits have square pillars carved in entasis on the four corners and imitated in the center on the wooden pagoda. There is a niche on the south side of the first story.

    This 9.6m-tall pagoda is the second oldest stone pagoda from Silla. The oldest is the pagoda at the Bunhwangsa Temple in Guhwang-dong, Gyeongju-si which is made of stones cut in the shape of bricks.

    Like in all brick pagodas, the top side and the bottom side of the roof stones are layered, and the top side has six layers while the bottom side has five. The four corners of the roof stones are slightly raised as shown in the tip of the roof of the wooden architecture. It has wooden towers in various places and brick towers in other places.

    This pagoda built in the early Unified Silla period (668-935) is important for the study of the development of pagodas in Korea because it reflects the architectural styles of both wooden and brick pagodas.

    Uiseong Three storied stone pagoda in Gwandeokdong, 

    The Three-Storey Stone Pagoda (Treasures #188), in Gwandeok-ri, Danchon-myeon, has a two-storey stone platform and a three-storey stone body, and each part is profusely decorated.

    A pillar is carved in relief in the middle of each side of the lower platform, and the image of a flying fairy is also carved in relief on each of the eight sections of the platform made by the pillar shape. Each of the four sides of the upper platform also has a pillar shape carved in relief, and an image of the four heavenly guardians of Buddhism are carved on the left and an image of a guardian of Buddhism on the right. Both the four heavenly guardians of Buddhism and a guardian of Buddhism are gods protecting the laws of Buddha, and it is very unique to find them together this way. It appears that a change was made in the latter part of the Unified Silla Kingdom.

    Uiseong Gwandeok-ri Three-Storey Stone Pagoda 01

    The pagoda is made of a one body stone and a one roof stone, and the image of a Buddhist saint is carved in relief on the four sides of the first story. The bottom part of the roof stones of the first storey and the second storey has four layers while that of the third storey has three layers, and the horizontal eaves are slightly raised at the four corners

    Head decoration at the top is missing, and only a square supporting stone is reversely placed, and it appears to have been placed there later on. It is unknown what kind of stone was placed at the top.

    Originally, two pairs of stone lions were placed in the four corners of the upper part of the upper platform, but now only two (National Treasure No. 202) remain, and they are currently in the Gyeongju National Museum. Animal sculptures appeared for the first time in the Gyeongju Bunhwangsa Temple Brick-Shaped-Stone Pagoda, and since then the trend was continued until the second part of the Unified Silla Kingdom.

    It appears to have been built in the 9th century when pagodas were first decorated in earnest. On the whole, it is less magnificent but more splendid and beautiful thanks to the carvings.

    There is yet another pagoda, the Five-Storey Stone Pagoda in the Bingsansa Temple Site in Binggye-ri, Chunsan-myeon , National Treasure #327.

    Uiseong Five-Storey Stone Pagoda in Bingsansa Temple Site in Hujuk ri Uiseong

    This Five-Storey Stone Pagoda is located in Bingsan in the  Mt. Bohyunsan mountain range, one of the eight exquisite beauties in Gyeongsangbuk-do. It is a brick-shaped stone pagoda that was built in imitation of the Tap-ri Five-Storey Stone Pagoda.

    It consists of a one-storey platform and a five-storey body stone. The base consists of 16 bottom stones. On the middle platform, different stones were used for each pillar and the surface. The top of the platform consists of eight stones, and a body-stone-supporting stone is placed at the top. Different stones were placed at the four corners to erect corner pillars on the first storey of the body of the pagoda, and there is a square space at the front to enshrine a statue of Buddha. From the second storey, the size of the body stone is reduced by half or more, and the five roof stones each have four layers of support. The inclined surfaces of the roof stones have five layers. Only the head decoration stand remains at the head decoration part at the top.

    The pagoda is assumed to have been built during the period between the second half of the Unified Silla Kingdom and the first half of the Goryeo Dynasty. It is less classy than the Uiseong Tamni Five-Story Stone Pagoda, but it is beautiful.

    Uiseong Gounsa Temple

    The Gounsa Temple is the Head Temple for the 16th District of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. The temple controls around 60 subordinate temples.

    I just love the architecture of this charming temple, the Gounsa, meaning High Cloud Temple . You may notice that the buildings look a bit new. Want to know why?

    Gounsa was founded by the great Buddhist Monk Uisangdaesa, who also founded a lot of other important temples around Korea, in 681, in the first year of King Sinmun of the Silla Kingdom. The Chinese characters of the name were later changed to mean Lone Cloud Temple (although the pronunciation was still the same) in honour of Choe Chiwon, an eminent Confucian scholar, who assisted Priests Yeoji and Yeosa in the construction of two pavilions, the Gaheoru and the Uhwaru here.

    The temple underwent renovations in 948 during the reign of King Jeongjong and again in 1018 during the reign of King Hyeonjong of the Goryeo dynasty..

    The temple was left unscathed during the Imjin war of 1592 – 98 and served as a base for anti-Japanese activities led by a priest, Samyeongdaesa who personally directed military operations from here.

    He stored rice for emergencies and treated the wounded, so the temple became well known for its active role in defending the motherland. As the source of Buddhism and learning, the temple gave birth to several Buddhist high priests such as Hamhung and Suweol, and it is still being frequented by many Buddhist monks.

    It preserves 27 temple houses including Regional Tangible Cultural Asset #151, the Gaullu Pavilion, and it also has a 500-meter long pine forest for casual hikers called “Solgul” at the entrance and the Dungun Mountain at the back of the temple has a path up a mountain for more serious hikers.

    The entire temple was nearly destroyed in a fire in 1835, which was later rebuilt by Priests Mansong, Hoam and Suyeol. Another big fire during the 1970s destroyed some of the buildings again. You have got to see this temple, it is beautiful, they have even  added  new buildings to the premises including a new main hail.

    Uiseong Gaunru Pavilion of Gounsa Temple

     Uiseong Gaunru Pavilion of Gounsa Temple 01

    The Gaullu Pavilion of the Gounsa Temple (also spelt Gaunru) 

    This two-storey pavilion has a half-hipped, half-gabled roof, the eaves of which are supported by single wing-like brackets.
    The workmanship of the interior and frame indicate that some alterations were made when it was renovated.

    Uiseong The Statue of a Sitting Buddha in Gounsa Temple

    The Seated Stone Sakyamuni Buddha Statue of Gounsa Temple (National Treasure #246) is a complete Buddhist statue that is hardly damaged with both the pedestal and the mandorla (Buddhist halo of light) still intact. The Yukgye (a protuberance on top of the head symbolizing supreme wisdom), shaped like a topknot on top of the curly hair, is not apparent. Small shell-shaped hair are attached to the head, and the square-shaped face has small eyes, a small nose and small lips, so it looks a bit fat. It has a well-built chest and a curvy waist but looks unstable due to the slightly raised shoulders. The palm of the right hand is placed on the knee, and the tip of the hand points to the ground, but it is broken. The palm of the left hand faces upward and is placed in front of the navel, but it does not look natural. The clothes that shroud the left shoulder show regular patterns and creases, which also appear on the legs and the arms.

    Uiseong Seated stone Sakyamuni buddha statue of Gounsa Temple 01 Uiseong Seated stone Sakyamuni buddha statue of Gounsa Temple

    The halo, which represents light emanating from the Buddha, is circular with a sharp edge. The head halo and the body halo represent a lotus flower and a vine pattern, and the edge represents a burning flame. The pedestal consists of an upper part, middle part and lower part, and the upper pedestal displays lotus flowers raised upward. The Eight-sided middle pedestal is decorated with pillars at the corners, and the lower pedestal displays leaves of lotus flowers placed upside down.

    The statue of Buddha shows the characteristics of the 9th century sculptures, which are very different from statues built in the 8th century in terms of the head, the face, the body, the creases, the pedestal and the halo.

    Uiseong Daeungjeon Hall of Daegoksa Temple

    Let’s now visit a temple the Daegoksa Temple (Mt. Bibongsan) in Pyeongrim-ri, Dain-myeon which is home to Regional Tangible Cultural Asset #160, the Daegoksadaeungjeon or the Daeungjeon Hall of the Daegoksa Temple and Regional Tangible Cultural Asset #161, the Pavilion for a Buddhist Temple Bell.

    The Daegoksa Temple is said to have been founded by Buddhist priests, Jigong and Nawoong, in 1368 during the reign of King Gongmin of the Goryeo Kingdom
    Most of its buildings were burnt down during the Japanese Invasions of 1592-98.
    They were rebuilt by a Buddhist Priest, Tanudaesa, in 1605. The buildings were later renovated in 1687 by the Priest Taejeonseonsa, who is said to have changed the name of the temple from Daeguksa to Daegoksa, meaning Great Valley Temple, because of a large valley he discovered near here.

     Uiseong Daeungjeon Hall of Daegoksa Temple 01
    In the temple's main hall, called the Daeungjeon is an image of Buddha.
    The roof of the building is half-gabled, half-hipped and its eaves are supported by multi-cluster brackets. The outer arms of the brackets are shaped like ox-tongues.
    The ceiling is coffered. The building well reflects the style prevalent during mid-Joseon period.

    Uiseong Bell Tower of Daegoksa Temple

    The Daegoksabeomjonggak(Bell tower in Daegoksa Temple) is a two-story bell tower which was first erected in 1368. It was destroyed by fire during the Japanese Invasions of 1592-98 and was rebuilt in 1605 together with the temple's main hall, the Daeungjeon.
    It was renovated in 1687 by the Buddhist Priest Taejeonseonsa and underwent repairs again in 1978.The roof is half-gabled, half-hipped and the bracketing is of a multi-cluster style.
    The outer bracket arms are ox-tongue shaped with lotus flowers carved on the upper part. The tower's bell is said to have been taken to the Yongmunsa Temple.

    There is a 3 km-long path between Daegoksa Temple and Jeokjoam, and it take one and a half hours to reach the top of the mountain overlooking a 3,930 meter-long valley. In the south, the Angye Plain faces the Nakdonggang River which flows in from the north, and since the geographical features of the mountain are exquisite, it is loved by many mountain climbers.

    The mountain rises 579.3 meters above sea level and was called Mt. Taehangsan) before the Goryeo Dynasty and Mt. Jamisan during the Joseon Dynasty.

    Uiseong Seated Stone Buddha in Gwandeokdong

    The Uiseonggwandeokdongseokbuljwasang(Seated Stone Buddha in Gwandeokdong, Uiseong). Tangible Cultural Properties # 136.

    This is a seated stone Buddha dating back to the Silla period, which remains together with a stone pagoda here at Gwandeok-dong, Uiseong.
    The Buddha statue, 98cm high, is thought to be a mid-eighth century piece displaying outstanding sculptural workmanship, though part of the neck, pedestal and halo are lost.
    The style of eighth century Silla Buddhas is well displayed by its usnisa(the protuberance on the top of the head symbolic of supreme wisdom).
    This Buddha is a valuable source for the study of stone Buddha images from the Silla Kingdom.

    Uiseong Standing Stone Buddha Statue Jeongandong 

    Uiseongjeongandongseokjoyeoraeipsang(Standing Stone Buddha Statue Jeongan-dong, Uiseong) Tangible Cultural Properties #175. 

    This image of Buddha is a good example of the standing Buddhas carved towards the end of the Silla period (57 B.C.-A.D.935).
    Its right hand is missing.
    The awkward pose of the Buddha, the size of which is achieved at the expense of liveliness, and the rendering of the flat torso and the angular face are typical of the megalithic Buddhas made at that time.
    The way the undergarment and the tie-string are depicted between the wide U-shaped folds of the robe, which is draped over both shoulders, is also evidence that it was made in the traditional style of the large standing Buddhas of the ninth century.
    There are remains in front of the image of what seems to have been part of the pedestal.

    Uiseong Seated stone Buddha Statue in Jarakdong Bian Myeon

    Bianmyeonjarakdongseokjoyeoraejwasang(Seated buddha in Jarakdong, Bian-myeon) Tangible Cultural Properties  56

    This is a valuable example of a Goryeo (918-1392) Buddha fashioned after the style of the Buddhist images of the earlier Unified Silla period (668-935).
    The knotting of the undergarment is a typical Silla motif while the long waist of the Buddha, and the square base are typical of Goryeo works.
    The mundra, or symbolic hand gesture, is for expelling devils.

    We’ve unearthed quite a lot of treasures haven’t we? I never knew Uiseong is such a treasure trove of temples, pagodas and Buddha statues. Bear in mind though, that these are but a few out of the 39 cultural properties I mentioned earlier. Looks like I’ve really taken you on a cultural tour of Uiseong today. I was so absorbed in all this treasure hunting that I didn’t realize I hardly spoke about anything else. History was one of my pet subjects at school, that’s why I was so engrossed. I hope that you were not bored but I promise you I’ll make it up to you in my next post. Wait till you hear about the dinosaurs in Uiseong-gun. Stay tuned! Bye for now.