The Emile Bell-A Mournful Cry for an Innocent Sacrifice

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The Emile Bell-A Mournful Cry for an Innocent Sacrifice

Songdok King's Bell (National Treasure No. 29), the largest preserved bronze bell also known as the Emile Bell, is about to break its eight years of hibernation.

Kim Jong-o, an academy researcher for the National Museum in Kyongju announced yesterday that striking Songdok King'bell will be possible on National Foundation Day, Oct.3.

He said that after three years of thorough analyses and stability tests on its condition, striking the bell once a year will be
O.K. This time it will be struck thirty three times.

"There was a discord of opinion between the Cultural Properties Protection Committee and the academic circles on the possible side-effects resulting from striking it" he said, adding that "Today, both sides reached the final agreement on the idea to strike the bell."

The Emile Bell (height 3.07m, maximum diameter 2.27m),which was cast in the year 771 to honor King Songdok (702-736) posthumously, was prevented from being struck for the last 8 years due to controversies over the expected damages.

The origin of its name is the sound made by a little girl crying for her mother,a cry reenacted whenever the bell is struck. The story behind its construction is somewhat dreadful.

During his reign,King Songdok called ministers Kim Ong and Kim Yang-sang and ordered them to make a new bell.These men fearing making mistakes,later heard the rumour that demanded the sacrifice of an innocent child to make a perfect bell. One day, while traversing the country, they visited a house where a poor widow lived with a little girl. Asked to give alms for the bell, she jokingly said that she could contribute only her little daughter. So they took the girl and threw her into the molten bronze pot forcibly.

As it was told, the bell made a perfect sound but its tone sounded like a long and mournful cry "Emi, emi, emi, emile," which means "Mama, Mama, Mama, for your sake!"

Even today, the little girl's desperate cry is echoing around the world and in our minds.

The Emile Bell incarnates the enigmas of the universe with its back representing the firmament and its belly representing surface of the earth.

On National Foundation Day, go and witness this rare historical event.
There you can visit the Kyougju World Culture Expo 2000, whose theme is "The New Millennium Breath"(Sept.1-Nov.10), and which includes the Cultural Image Exhibition, a virtual reality presentation.

For more information call the Kyongju National Museum(Tel.:054-772-2107), the Kyongju World Culture Expo 2000 Organization Committee(Tel.:053-950-2557) or email:

by Kim Jae-seon

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