Yeongju Region Boasts Buddhist Temples, Stunning ViewsYellow forsythia and pink azaleas greet people walking to Punggi in Yeongju city from the Jungnyeong ridge. The ridge, located on the border between North Chungchong province and North Kyongsang province, has been used as a place for ancestral rites in spring or autumn since the Three Kingdoms period. It also acts as the gateway to Yeongju city, North Kyongsang province, which is home to many cultural relics, such as a Confucian school of the Choson Dynasty (1392-1910) and a Buddhist temple from the Three Kingdoms era (57 B.C. - 660). This city and the surrounding countryside are an ideal place for a spring visit; here are some of the highlights in the area.
A seowon is a Confucian private school. Sosu Seowon was built to commemorate An Hyang, a scholar from the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392) who introduced jujahak or the Zhu Xi school of neo-Confucianism to Korea. Sosu Seowon was first named Baek-undong Seowon when it was built in 1543 by Ju Se-bung, the magistrate of Punggi county. There are four treasures on the site, including a portrait of Confucius and his 72 disciples, which is believed to have been brought from China by An Hyang.
Sosu Seowon is open to the public between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily. Admission is 1,100 won ($1).
For more information, call 054-633-2608 (Korean language service only).
Sudo-ri is a village established over 200 years ago when people from the Yean area with the family name Kim and those from the Bannam area named Park came to live together. It is located on the shore of Naeseong-cheon, a branch of Nakdong river, and looks like an island because it is surrounded in all directions, except the southeastern, by Naeseong-cheon. It has an extensive sandy beach.
Of the nine traditional houses preserved in the village, the oldest is Manjukjae and dates back to the Choson dynasty. The houses were designated provincial folk materials in 1990 and two of them, Manjukjae and Haeudang, have been restored to their original states. Local bus service is available four times a day for 770 won from downtown Yeongju.
Buseok is a Buddhist temple complex built during the Silla Dynasty (660 - 935) in 676. This temple complex is located about halfway up Mount Bongwhang, which is 818 meters high and contains many treasures, including five designated national treasures. Muryangsujeon, the best-known attraction at the temple, has not only historic importance but also architectural value. It is the second oldest wooden building in Korea and boasts architectural techniques, such as baeheullim, which are rarely found in other old buildings. Baeheullim is a technique applied in carving the pillars of a building to make them look like they have bellies in the middle. From Muryangsujeon, views of Mount Sobaek are quite marvelous, especially around sunset.
The admission fee at the temple is 1,200 won. Local buses run 15 times a day at hourly intervals starting from 6:10 a.m. Bus fares are 770 won (regular), and 1,740 won (deluxe).
Maae-samjonbul, three Buddhist statues carved into a rock cliff located on a road in Gaheung-dong, dates back to the Silla dynasty. The word maae means stone carving. The three statues of Buddha with big noses, stubbornly closed mouths, and broad chests are magnificent, but it is a pity that vandals attacked the statues' eyes. There is a folk tale that in the Silla period, a rich man wanted to have a child and paid to have the statues carved, hoping to make his wishes come true.
For more information about the city, contact its web site at www.yongju.kyongbuk.kr (English version available)
by Kim Sae-joon