Friday, April 30, 2010

Discovering Gyeongsangbuk do – Chilgok-gun Part 2

Chilgok Nakdong River Railroad Bridge

The Nakdong River has played an important role throughout Korean History. The river basin has been a favored dwelling place for as long as people have inhabited the Korean Peninsular. Through the Silla, Goryeo and Joseon periods the river continued to serve as a major transportation corridor in the Gyueongsang region.

Waegwan’s name literally means “Japanese dwelling” and may indicate that the town was a common stopping point for Japanese salt traders during the Joseon Dynasty.

Chilgok Nakdong River Railroad Bridge

In the summer of 1939 Korean and Japanese students from the Daegu Normal School were sent to Waegwan to do forced labor on the Gyeongbu Line railroad tracks. A demonstration, known as the Waegwan incident took place on July 26 in which Korean students protested against preferential treatment being given to Japanese students. In consequence seven of the students were expelled.

During the Korean War it gained prominence as a barrier to movement. The bridge over the Nakdong River at Waegwan was blown up on August 3 1950 to prevent North Korean forces from advancing to Daegu. A large number of Korean refugees were killed in the explosion. The Americans believed that the refugees were North Korean soldiers in disguise. Although some of the North Korean forces did cross the Nakdong River in places, for the most part the river still marks their furthest advance.

Monuments to the UN and South Korean forces now stand on the low mountain overlooking the northeastern section of the city, which is locally known as “Apsan” or Hill 303.

In the 1990s the halves of the bridge were reconnected to serve as a pedestrian crossing between the two halves of Waegwan.

Chilgok Waegwan War Memorial

Waegwan War Memorial in Jungji-ri, Seokjeok-eup, was constructed in 1978 to commemorate the victory of the Nakdong river battle together with the U.N. forces in the Korean War. It exhibits clothing and firearms used at the time.

Chilgok Dabu-dong War Memorial

The Dabu-dong War Memorial in Dabu-ri, Gasan-myeon, was built to commemorate the victory of the "Dabudong Battle' which provided an opportunity to march into North Korea during the Korean war. In the building that reassembles a tank, there are exhibited all kinds of firearms and seizures during the war.

Chilgok Mt. Yuhak Area 

The Mt. Yuhak Area in Seonggok-ri, Seokjeok-eup, stands 839m high and is known as the mountain of cranes. It used to be the battle field of Dabudong during the Korean war. Today the crane rocks are popular among mountaineers as a rock-climbing training site.

Chilgok Noseok-dong Buddhist Image

On the cliff of Mt. Dogosan are the engravings of 4 images of Buddha in red and blue known as the Noseok-dong Buddhist Image. They are presumed to have been done in the early period of unified Silla.

Chilgok Daegu English Village

Did you know that there is an English village in a protected mountain setting in Yeonhwa-ri, Jicheon-myeon, Chilgok-gun, some thirty minutes away from Daegu.

In 2006 The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Colorado (UCCS) and Yeungjin College (YJ), Daegu, South Korea, a prominent national university in South Korea, joined forces to construct a world-class English language learning campus. The English Village offers a full immersion curriculum for children to adults, complete with various miniature versions of everything from an airport to a bank to a police station where students can interact and utilize English in real-world situations and scenarios - to train students of all ages in the usage of the English language in an experiential learning environment so to speak.

Acacia Honey Festival 01

The Acacia Honey Bee Festival is held every May in Chilgok. The area around Sindongjae(Hill), Chilgok-gun is the largest habitat of acacia.

The acacia trees growing in this region, around the Sindong Pass are 30~40 years old and are distributed throughout the 1,500ha of land taking about 5% of the total forest in the region. Currently, there are about 470 beekeeping households who produce 150tons of honey a year with a profit of 18 million won

The Acacia Bee Honey Festival is an ecological and economical festival and is recognized as a true regional cultural festival which the villagers and urban dwellers in the vicinity can enjoy. It is the most natural theme festival where you can experience the ecology of the Sindong Pass, - the flowers, the trees, the wind and the acacia bee honey.

Acacia Honey Festival

There are contests and events, such as the bee beard event, Bee Bee Karaoke, sweet scent music festival, film festival, tasting of food made with honey, acacia science exhibition, bee-sting acupuncture and photography contest.

The main programs of the Open Chilgok Long-term Learning Festival include the following programs held at different venues in Chilgok with the aim of establishing a sound local community through education.

  • Cultural Performance with local citizens: Madangnorii, Family Music Festival
  • Exhibition Center arranged by a life-long learning organization: ceramics, natural dying, crafts
  • Learning Team Performance Hall: Samulnori, Sports Dance, Belly Dance
  • Life-long learning experience booth: Experiencing tradition, Art Healing, Experience with beads, Hand-Acupuncture
  • For local women groups: Participation of Woori Agriculture Products Promotion Center, charity bazaar

Every October there is a Children’s Festival where the children and students of middle and high schools in Chilgok can show off their talents by participating and in the sharing of new experiences in different surroundings. They believe that “Children are the future of Chilgok”.

Not to be outdone is the Silveriness Song Festival, also in October, where the senior citizens, aged 60 and above, from Chilgok, can perform on stage and show off their talents.

The Gasan Hak Village Festival is a gathering fair for the urban and rural farming industry. This opens at the eco-friendly Hak village in Gasan-myeon, Chilkgok-gun.
A variety of events are prepared every year, some of which include sporting events, a Hapkido performance (an art of self-defense), tug-of-war, rural experiencing events (apple picking, catching grasshoppers, making scarecrow s) and singing competitions.
The Gasan Apple Flower Festival opens on October 7th every year and the festival offers the sampling of vegetable Bibimbap, made from natural ingredients from Gasan Hak village. The festival also provides events that family members can participate in together such as making ceramics, apple peeling and digging up herbs.
The Fortress Village Nature-Friendly Vegetable Festival is held in eco-friendly Sanseong village located in the Gasan Fortress. The event promotes the sampling of natural vegetables and provides an opportunity to visit and experience an eco-friendly cropping location.

Chilgok is well-known for its master craftsmen. If you are looking for art pieces, then Chilgok is the place to buy them.

Chilgok Gookak Yurlim Technical Art

The Drum or Janggue is made of skillful and exquisite craftsmanship. This crafts shop, Gookak Yurlim Technical Art is known for its overseas customers from the numerous orders that are coming in from countries worldwide.

Chilgok Sungoh Carpentry

Sungoh Carpentry has been appointed as a special product zone shop specializing in fishing and agrarian villages by the government. They are specialized in making esthetical and detailed wooden cases using the Paulownia tree and the western red cedar.

Chilgok Chongrok Carpentry

The Chongrok Carpentry not only makes Danchong or Buddhist images but they are specialized in repairing cultural properties. The traditional techniques and coloration of carpentry is splendid.

Chilgok Haksan Ceramic

This is the traditional tableware made by Haksan Ceramic, that is inscribed with the10 longevity symbols including the turtle and the herb of eternal youth. They are said to be able to preserve the freshness of the food for a longer period of time.

Chilgok Acacia Rice    Chilgok Green Pine Needle Rice

Chilgok Gasan Fortress Rice     ChilgokGeumjong Rice

Chilgok Hak Village Natural Rice         Chilgok Dasong Rice 

Chilgok Hanbaek Loess Rice     Chilgok Seokchong Rice

What are the special products of Chilgok? Rice tops the list with 8 different varieties, Geumjong Rice, Green Pine Needle Rice, Dasong Rice, Hak Village Natural Rice, Gasan Fortress Rice, Seokchong Rice. Acacia Rice and Hanbaek Loess Rice

Chilgok Apples Chilgok Cherry Tomato

Chilgok Gisan Pear  Chilgok Grape

Chilgok Guemnam Cucumber  Chilgok Honey Melon

Chilgok Natural Water Celery  Chilgok Strawberry

For agricultural products (Fruits) there are honey melons, apples, grapes, strawberries and Gisan pears, (vegetables) Natural Water Celery, Guemnam Cucumbers and Cherry Tomatoes.

 Chilgok Geumnamri Gookhwa Chilgok Bonggaeri Gookhwa

 Chilgok Gansanri Lily

Chilgok is famous for its flowers too, especially the Chilgok Lilies (which are exported to Japan), chrysanthemums and tulips.

Now let’s see what Chilgok has to offer amongst its livestock goods? Top of the list is honey of course.

Ahn Sang-gyu Honey Ahn Sang-gyu Honey is aged in a beehive in a natural way to preserve its nutrients and taste. The moisture is removed naturally by movements of the bees and winds.

Chilgok Mt.Hwanghaksan Tobong Honey Mt.Hwanghaksan Tobong Honey on the other hand is gathered from 300 types of flowers during March and September around the Mt.Hwanghaksan area.


Solran are eggs produced from the chickens that are fed with pine needle feeds. It has rich colored egg yolk with high content of calcium, iron and vitamins as compared to regular eggs.

To end today’s post I’m going to introduce you to a man, a great artist, a son of the soil. Jaewon Jung was born in 1956, in a small village, called Songjeong, (which means resting place among pine trees) in Chilgok County. He’s a highly qualified person having studied Korean language education at Kyungpook National University and earned a master's degree in Korean literature at KNU, majoring in contemporary Korean poems. He worked as a planner in the publishing department at KNU, taught the Korean language at Sinmyeong High School in Daegu, served as CEO of the Korea Educational Institute in Daegu and currently is the President of Naratmal Publishing Company and is one of the Sottae artists. His Korean Smile (Archetypical Doodles) was published in 1997 by the Naratmal Publishing Company.

Yes, he saw water lilies and lotus flowers in the lakes, while he was growing up and read about them in lots of poems and essays, but  he did not  truly learn to appreciate their true beauty  until he planted and grew 'Tina", a tropical water lily, in a stoneware pot in 2004. Ever since then he has been growing lotuses and water lilies. In 2005, he happened to come across the website of Victoria-Adventure and was fascinated by the beauty of the various water lilies in it.

Hoping that many more Koreans will grow lotuses and water lilies and enjoy the beauty of them, he planted about 100 varieties in vessels in his roof garden in 2006. He has been distributing them to others and running a lotus-lovers society on the web. All this while he has drawn pictures of lotuses and water lilies. He has high aspirations as he thinks that his collection will be larger in size and number than those of Claude Monet in the future.

Being the creative person he is, he likes to create  something new, he is always searching for new species of water lilies. He is not selfish, he wants to beautify his surroundings even more so that he can share all that with others.  He owns a mountain of 500,000 square meters (124 acres) near his residence in Daegu, where he plans to turn it into an art park with an art gallery and an arboretum, so that people can appreciate art crafts and pictures in the beautiful space, all under one roof. In the art park he will make reservoirs by draining water from the creeks, and plant flowers and trees systematically. Here is a man of dreams and visions. I wish him all the best and may his efforts be crowned with success. Who knows, perhaps one day I might be lucky enough to step into his art park because I too love to plant lotuses and water lilies.

And with this we bid farewell to our trip to Chilgok-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Special thanks and appreciation to the following:
Photos and articles © courtesy





Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Discovering Gyeongsangbuk- do – Chilgok-gun Part 1

Chilgok county is located in Gyeongbuk province, directly northwest of Daegu metropolitan city. The county seat is Waegwan.


Chilgok flag

The county flag symbolizes Chilgok in harmony with information based, high-tech industry and rural city in the 21st century.


Chilgok character

"Hoi" refers to a person who died fighting gloriously in defense of their country. "Hoi" represents the spirit of the patriots who died for the country, and also symbolizes Chilgok as a home front for defending the motherland

Symbol Mark

Chilgok Symbol Mark

Represents information and the state-of-the-art 21st century including a rural city

The square illustrates informationization future,

The small 7 rounds inside is a letter 'C' in English, illustrating it the first English initial for Chilgok expressing its advancement to the state-of-the-art city of dreams and the future.

Each Color bears a meaning
Blue means high-technology, green is for Chilgok, and white refers to the residents' promising futures and their dazzling spirits

Promotion Symbol Mark

Chilgok Promotion Symbol Mark

The 7 small circles of the symbol marks are shaped in the Great Bear.

The Great Bear gives conviction in realizing Chilgok's future dream.

Natural Symbols

Chilgok County Flower - Maehwa Blossom

County Flower - Maehwa Blossom

  • The county citizens' uplifting and scholarly spirit.
  • Development of Chilgok-guen
  • Respect for morality and learning

Chilgok County tree  Ginko tree

County tree : Ginko tree

  • Indomitable and consistent tree
  • Undivided solidarity of the county citizens
  • Advancing spirit of the county citizens

Chilgok County bird  White Heron

County bird - White Heron

  • Graceful nature of the county citizens
  • Transparent society
  • Clean and environment-friendly Chilgok in rural surroundings

It is made up of three eups:-

  • Waegwan eup
  • Buksam eup
  • Seokjeok eup

and five myeons

  • Gasan myeon
  • Dongmeyong myeon
  • Jicheon myeon
  • Gisan myeong
  • Yeakmok myeon


 If you were to be just passing through Chilgok you would think it a serene and peaceful place because by midnight the streets are all deserted. Yes, you are not wrong. Due to its isolated position from the mainstream tourist belt, most motorists bypass this serene county in favor of stopovers in larger cities such as Daegu, or better known places like Andong or Gyeongju.

Yet there was a time in 1950, when Chilgok was the scene of the the Dabu-dong Battle, The battle is remembered to be one of the bloodiest confrontations of the Korean War, lasting 55 days and leaving 27,500 people dead, records of which  can be found in the Dabu-dong War Memorial Hall.

And if you were to go back further still in time, Chilgok was witness to the execution of 30 Catholic martyrs, which took place at what is now known as the Hanti Sacred Ground for Catholicism.

Since Catholicism has played an important role in the history of Chilgok, today, I thought I’d take you on a tour of the Catholic religious sites that give the area its unique character.

Catholicism first came to Korea in 1784, the first person to become a Catholic was Lee Seung-hoon, a young Korean who had converted in China. The persecution of Catholics, particularly the “Great Persecution of 1866,” a government campaign to wipe out the faith, meant many believers were forced to flee. Chilgok County offered some refuge, and since then the Catholic faith has imparted a significant influence over the area.

A must-see tourist attraction in Chilgok is the St. Benedict Waegwan Abbey, which was built in 1909 when five monks from the Ottilien Abbey in Germany came here to teach. The abbey houses 21 paintings by celebrated Joseon (1392-1910) artist Jeong Seon, recovered from Ottilien Abbey in Germany in 2006.

The Order of St. Benedict Waegwan Abbey, is located within easy walking distance from the Waegwan train station. The monastery is famous for its sausages, prepared in the traditional German way, but unfortunately not on sale to the general public.

The only way you can taste their sausages is to dine with the monks, i.e. if you stay at the monastery’s retreat. Guests get the chance to eat with the monks and chip in doing some chores. One night with three meals costs 30,000 won ($33) per person.
At the entrance to the monastery is an old redbrick church which is hardly used these days and the doors are usually locked. This church actually predates the monastery as it was built in 1928, whereas the Order of St. Benedict didn’t settle in Chilgok until 1952. The church is sometimes used as a lecture hall but not for mass though.

Chilgok St Benedict Waegwan Abbey Fire

Much of the monastery is off limits to visitors. But if you call ahead, you can arrange for a tour. You’ll get to see the burned-out dormitories, destroyed by an accidental fire in 2007, if I’m not mistaken. On one of the blackened walls the haunting mark of a cross can still be seen. Be warned, though, the stairs to the second floor are very unstable. You can also visit a stained-glass window workshop on the grounds of the monastery. The windows made here are bound for Catholic churches across the country.

Chilgok Gasil Catholic Church

Walk south from Saint Benedict’s along the banks of the Nakdong River and you will come to the Chilgok Gasil Catholic Church. Visitors must sign up in advance to have a guided tour of the church.

Hyun Ik-hyun, the German  priest of Gasil Catholic Church

The original church was actually housed in a hanok, and the church itself was built between 1922 and 1923. A huge 200-year-old tree now stands near where the hanok used to be, in an open spot in front of the church.

This church is unique in that there’s the statue of Ana (the mother of the Virgin Mary) and the Virgin Mary, which was brought over from France in 1924. It’s the only one of its kind in Korea. The church was recently designated a cultural asset by the government.

The long panel of stained-glass windows that narrate stories from the New Testament were manufactured at the workshop of St. Benedict’s Abbey.
Mass is still held at the church and next door is a redbrick building that used to be the living quarters for the priests. Today one of the rooms is used as a museum. It contains tools used at the church in its early years, including a barrel that was used for crushing grapes for wine and an old film projector. There’s also a 100-year-old Bible.
This church is also famous as the site of the 2004 movie “Shinbu sueob,” or “Love So Divine.” starring Kwon Sang-woo and Ha Ji-won.

Meanwhile, Chilgok is also sacred ground for Catholics as tormented believers fled to Hantijae, an area in the county, as a last refuge in the Joseon era (1392-1910). It was named Hanti Holy Ground after the numerous Catholics who were martyred here during this period.

statue of the Virgin Mary at entrance of Hanti retreat.

Hanti on the eastern shore of the Nakdong River was where Catholics settled to escape religious persecution during the final throes of the Joseon Dynasty. Despite their best efforts to protect themselves, many still suffered during the bloody suppression.
Hanti is now one of the most famous Catholic retreats in Korea. There’s a museum built in the style of the living quarters used by Catholics from the Joseon period. The houses look like traditional lower-class housing with clay walls and thatched roofs. In the fall the long path leading up to the retreat is alive with autumnal colors. Hidden among the trees is a small white statue of the Virgin Mary.

One can feel the religious harmony that exists in Chilgok County today, because even though this area is well known for its Catholic heritage, there are also Buddhist sites co-existing in perfect harmony, like the Songnim Buddhist Temple in Dongmyeon, which is quite close to Hanti. The temple was built in 544 during the Silla Dynasty. Over the past 1,500 years it has undergone many transformations. Following successive Mongolian and Japanese invasions, the temple has been rebuilt on two occasions, in 1597 and in 1858

Chilgok Five Storied Stone Brick Pagoda in Songnimsa Temple
In the temple grounds is the Songnimsaocheungjeontap(Five storied stone brick pagoda of Songnimsa Temple) Treasures #189. It stands in front of the main hall within the Songnimsa Temple. Standing on a granite foundation, the structure is built up with square and rectangular bricks. Songnimsa Temple was founded in the fifth year of King Jinheung of Silla (544) to enshrine the sarira of Buddha which Myeonggwan took from Jin. This 16.13m-tall brick pagoda is believed to date from the ninth century during the Unified Silla period (668-935).

The base of the first floor was made, using not earth brick but granite. The four facets of the base has the pillar in the corner and in the center inscribed. Above the second floor the height of the main stone is almost the same, which makes it look high and the roof stone to cover the main stone is relatively wide, which makes it stable and delicate-looking. The roof was piled up with the size of each layer shifted, considering it was made of earth brick. The various parts of the ornamental top portion, the Bokbal(inverted bowl), the Anghwa(flower), the Boryun(jewel disc), the Yongcha(round stone), and the Boju(pearl-shape stone), are in bronze and the top of the mast is wood covered with copper plate. The top ornaments made of gold remains in the upper part, which imitated the original in restoring the tower in 1595. Although it is an imitation, it is an important material to show the gold upper part of the Unified Silla Period. When it was dismantled for repairs in 1959, a wooden Buddhist statue and a sarira case were found inside the pagoda. These items, collectively designated as Treasure #325, are now in the collection of the Daegu National Museum.

Another key attraction in the area which is more of a historical nature, than a religious one, is the Gasan Fortress, Historic Sites  #216.

Chilgok Gasansanseong Fortress 

The fortress was built into a rock on Mount Gasan, a stunning setting for a military outpost. Mt. Gasan (901m in elevation) is 10km west of Mt. Palgongsan. Because it boasts of seven peaks, the mountain was called, ‘Chilbongsan.’ After two successive wars (the Japanese Invasion in 1592 and the Mongol's Aggression of Korea in 1636), the Joseon rulers built a fortress over the course of 99 years in the mid Joseon period to aid in Korea’s defense. It is Korea’s only three-layered fortress, consisting of inner, outer and central walls. The flat Gasanbawi Rock at the mountain’s peak, which is large enough to accommodate 100 people at a time, offers a great view of Daegu Metropolitan City.

The centre hole which is now covered is said to have been made by Saint Doson. At the end of the Silla dynasty, he buried a horse and cow made of iron in it, in order to control the earth energy.

Chilgok Gasansanseong Fortress and Gasanbawi Rock 01

The creation of each segment was consummated at a different period. In 1639, Governor Lee Myeong-ung of Gyeongsangdo province completed the inner castle; in the 17th year of King Yeongjo, the in-between walls were built; in the 26th year of King Sukjong, the outer walls were built. The Gasan Mountain Fortress, Daegu is considered as a representative mountain fortress, which gives you an idea about the form and technology of reinforcement: primarily using natural configuration of earth and topography at the end of the Joseon Kingdom Period. At present, this Mountain Fortress is regimented as a campsite, which provides convenient facilities. On the premises of the fortress, there are several military offices, arms warehouses, watch towers, turrets, and other military amenities constructed. To train monk soldiers a temple called Cheonjusa Temple was constructed on the premises of this fortress. The main gate and part of the outer walls of this fortress persist in the fortress area, which demonstrate the splendor of the fortress. Today, this area is recognized as a good mountain hiking course.

Chilgok Hanti-jae Pass

The Hanti Rest Place, at 700m high, is the most beautiful and coolest spot which is in sight of Mt. Palgongsan. You will pass through it when going to the Gasan Walls and the 2nd Sokgulam cave (grotto) in Gunwi.

Gusang Literature Center in Chilgok

Chilgok is also home to the Gusang Literature Center, which commemorates poet Gusang. He was chosen by the French Literary Association as one of the top 200 literary figures in the world. The poet Gusang was born in Seoul in 1919, but he lived in Waegwan from 1953 to 1974.

Chilgok Gusang Literary Center

The life and literature of poet Gusang can be seen in this hall. Including Gwansujae, the hall exhibits the pictures of the poet, paintings, letters and about 27,000 books.

Let’s now go on a little treasure hunting.

Chilgok Monument to National Preceptor Daegakguksa of Seonbongsa Temple

Seonbongsadaegakguksabi(Monument to National Preceptor Daegakguksa of Seonbongsa Temple) Treasures   #251 is located in Sungo-ri, Buksam-myeon. 

Dedicated to Uicheon, founder of the Cheontae Order and who was revered as the "National Preceptor", Daegakguksa , this monument was erected in the 10th year of King Injong (1132) of the Goryeo Dynasty, in praise of his lifelong devotion to Buddhism.

Monument to National Preceptor Daegakguksa of Seonbongsa Temple

The 3.5m-high stele is rather simple in design and lacking the usual turtle-shaped base and carved capstone. Lotus designs are carved on the base and the arabesque patterns are carved on the faces of the roof stone. What is inscribed here is how Uicheon, the fourth son of King Munjong, contributed to the development of Buddhism by unifying the doctrine-oriented Gyo Order and the meditation-oriented Zen Order and completed the making of the Tripitaka woodblocks for Buddhist scriptures. The woodblocks were destroyed by fire in the war with the Mongols.

The epitaph was composed by Im Jeon and the calligraphy was done by a monk named In. The powerful brush strokes and the unique style represented in the epigraph have been highly praised.

Three storied stone pagoda of Giseongdong, Chilgok

Chilgokgiseongdongsamcheungseoktap(Three storied stone pagoda of Giseongdong, Chilgok) Treasures #510, located at the Beopseongsa temple, Giseong-ri, Dongmyeong-myeon is 5.2m high and erected on a double-foundation which is typical of the period. The lower foundation, composed of eight stones, has carved corner pillars, with two inner pillars carved between them. Large and round panel decoration designs are large enough to fill a side on the upper foundation. The main body also has corner and inner pillars in each storey. The body and roof stone consists of a single stone. A five-stepped cornice is under the roof stones with the eaves turned upwards. Of the ornamental top portion only a base piece and cube remain. The curved designs on the foundation are said to express an Oriental concept of space. This pagoda's double foundation and its number of inner pillars and cornice were typical of the Unified Silla period (668-935). The upper parts damaged by grave robbers, were restored in 1971.

Chilgok Relief of buddha and bodhisattva in Noseokdong, Seongju

Seongjunoseokdongmaaebulsanggun(Relief of Buddha and bodhisattva in Noseokdong, Seongju) Treasures #655, in Noseok-ri, Gisan-myeon,  are images of the Buddha and two Bodhisattvas engraved in relief on a huge rock of a cliff. They are important relics that show a variety of interesting postures and sculpturing styles of the early Unified Silla period(668-935).

 Chilgok Relief of buddha and bodhisattva in Noseokdong, Seongju 02
The composition of the images is unusual in that a small seated Buddha is at the right side of the triad. The Buddha, which is at the center, has a tall usnisa(a protuberance on top of the head symbolizing supreme wisdom). The workmanship is very good, and especially noteworthy is the halo with an ornate flame pattern and the unusual style of the robe.

Chilgok Relief of buddha and bodhisattva in Noseokdong, Seongju 01
The attending Bodhisattvas are also unusual in that they have bejeweled crowns, are sitting with their legs crossed at the ankle, and the seats have pointed lotus petals. The Buddha at the right of the triad is carved in much the same style as the one in the triad, although it is a bit leaner. It is also unusual in that the legs are crossed at the ankles, which is very rare in Korean Buddhist sculpture.

Chilgok Sindongipseok(Sindong menhir in Changpyeong-ri)

Sindongipseok(Sindong menhir in Changpyeong-ri), located at Changpyeong-ri, Jicheon-myeon,  Monuments  # 29 (Chilgok-gun) is typical of the megalithic culture of the Bronze Age. It was probably either used as a boundary marker or as an object of worship. One of the largest in Korea, it is 4.5m high and 2m around. Artifacts, including plain coarse pottery and stone implements, found while clearing the area east of this menhir support the theory that it dates from the Bronze Age.

Chilgok Shrine of General Sin Yu

Sinyujanggunyujeok(Shrine of General Sin Yu), in Namgye-ri, Yangmok-myeon, Monuments  #38 (Chilgok-gun) is a shrine to Sin Yu(1619-80), a general during the reign of King Hyojong of the Joseon Kingdom(1392-1910).
General Sin, a native of this area, passed the state military examination at the age of 27 to join the military service.
He was serving along the northeastern most boundary of Hamgyeongbuk-do in 1658, the ninth year of King Hyojong's reign, when, at the request of Ching China, he led an expeditionary force to fight off General Stephanov's Russian forces who intruded into the area near the Heilung River of Manchuria. General Sin described the smashing victory in detail in his Diary of the Northern Expedition. Sin later held various key military posts including the commander of the three provincial naval forces and police superintendent. This shrine and the adjacent  area were repaired and beautified by the government in 1979-81.

Chilgok Lecture hall of Sayang Seodang

Sayangseodanggangdang(Lecture hall of Sayang Seodang), in Sin-ri, Jicheon-myeon, Cultural Properties Materials  #117 (Chilgok-gun) was sacred to the literary men in the middle Joseon dynasty, which included Hangang Jung Ku, Sokdam Lee Yun-Woo, and Songam Lee Won-Kyong. The lecture room, Kyunghwe-dang, is the only building left because the others were destroyed by the Daewongun's Sowon Abolition Command.

Chilgok Haeeungotaek(Yi Dongyu's Old house)

To end our tour of Chilgok, let’s take a look at one of the notable old houses located in Maewon village. There’s nothing much I can tell you about this house except that it was built by Yi/Lee Dong-yu, a descendant of Bakgok Lee Won-rok who served as an inspector-general during King Sookjong's rule.

Chilgok Haeeungotaek(Yi Dongyu's Old house) 01 

Chilgok Jeongchim

Chilgok Sarangchae(Husband's quarters)

ChilgokGotganchae(Storage quarters)

Chilgok Sadang  

Chilgok Daemunchae(Outer Servant's quarters)

The Haeeungotaek(Yi Dongyu's Old house) together with the Jeongchim, Sarangchae(Husband's quarters), Gotganchae(Storage quarters), Sadang and the Daemunchae(Outer Servant's quarters) have been collectively designated Cultural Properties Materials  #275.



Special thanks and appreciation to the following:
Photos and articles © courtesy

Lee Ho-jeong