Korea Tour, Korean Music, Arts, Crafts

Korea Tour

- Rest your mind and rejuvenate your soul in the land of the morning calm
- A country renowned for its rich cultural and aesthetic beauty.
- Begin a fantastic journey into the cultural traditions of the past - today!

Korean Traditional Music Station

- Quoted as “the sound that baptizes your soul”
- Unique tempo distribution
- Warm and soft tone color
- Calm and meditative character
- Listen samples

Online Gallery of Korean Arts and Crafts

- High quality pictures and detailed descriptions
- Art essays with in-depth information
- Unique handcrafted gifts

Monday, November 29, 2010

Jongmyo Shrine - a magnificent monument to memorialize Koreas deceased kings

View and Read More

Built in the 16th century, Jongmyo Shrine is a wonderful example of Confucian architecture. Both grand and minimalist, it exudes the dignity and majesty of Koreas deceased kings that it venerates.

Jongmyo is the oldest Confucian royal shrine in Korea and is magnificently preserved to this day. Dedicated to the forefathers of the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910), the shrine was built in the 16th century and houses tablets bearing the teachings of members of the former royal family. Ritual ceremonies linking music, song and dance still take place there, perpetuating a tradition that goes back some 500 years.

In Korean culture (and in many cultures throughout Asia), traditional rites are deemed highly important in modern society to preserve and maintain basic social order. There are a number of important rituals in Korea, the most significant of these being the Jongmyo and the Sajik rituals.

Jongmyo is the term used for a place where memorial services are performed for deceased kings, while Sajik is the term for a place where services for the gods of earth and crops are performed. These symbolic rituals ensure social order and the successful ruling of the nation.

Consequently, due to the significance of these rituals, the Jongmyo and Sajik shrines where these rituals are performed are classic in their architectural grace, detail and beauty. Although such facilities existed in Korea as early as the Three Kingdoms Period (57 B.C.-668 A.D.), those that remain today in Seoul are from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

Jeongjeon, the main hall, is comprised of 19 identical rooms that are all minimalist in design with no ornamentation. However, the building as a whole is impressive in its grandeur, with 20 thick round pillars boldly projecting the dignity and majesty of royalty. In front of Jeongjeon is a remarkable elevated stone yard called Woldae, which is used during ceremonies by musicians, dancers and other participants. Woldae wonderfully complements the architecture of the main hall, with the large stone blocks comprising the yard creating a striking and solemn atmosphere as they lay in silence before Jeongjeon.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Changdeokgung Palace Complex - a splendid palace in harmony with nature

View and Read More

Changdeokgung Palace Complex was built in the 15th century with careful consideration given to its natural surroundings. It is a superb example of a man-made structure blending harmoniously with the beauty of the landscape.

Changdeokgung Palace Complex is an outstanding example of Far Eastern palace architecture and garden design, exceptional for the way in which the buildings are integrated into and harmonized with the landscape, adapting to the topography and leaving the surrounding indigenous trees to grow and flourish in their natural beauty.

During the Joseon Dynasty in the early 15th century, Emperor Taejong ordered the construction of a new palace at an auspicious site, and the Changdeokgung Palace Complex was built. Located in Seoul, it has more structures preserved than any other palace from that period and covers a total area of 580,000 square meters. Consisting of a number of official and residential buildings, the palace complex - including the Secret Garden - was created in a lovely garden space that was cleverly adapted to the uneven topography of the site.

A particularly distinctive feature of Changdeokgung Palace is the fact that it was built with little effect on the natural environment and was designed to be in harmony with nature. Buildings were designed and constructed to blend easily with the immediate surroundings and even directions were given for careful consideration in planning and building. Space was utilized to provide distinctly different yet harmonious views and atmospheres throughout the palace grounds. The result is an exceptional example of Far Eastern palace architecture and design, unifying peacefully with the surrounding landscape.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes - an extraordinary island of dramatic volcanic landscapes

View and Read More

A popular destination spot for tourists, Jeju Island - with its shield volcanoes, lava tubes and tuff cones - offers visitors a glimpse into the evolution of the Earth's topography.

Jeju Island, the southernmost territory of the Republic of Korea, is renowned the world over for being popular with both domestic and international tourists. A place of unmistakable beauty and one of the finest places in the country to view the splendor of Korea's four seasons, it is also noted for being a volcanic island, bearing testimony to the history of our planet. The island grew up from the sea floor as a result of volcanic activities that began approximately 1.2 million years ago.

There are three main sites on Jeju Island. Geomunoreum is regarded as the finest lava tube system of caves anywhere on the planet, with its multi-colored carbonate roofs and floors, and dark-colored lava walls. The fortress-like Seongsan Ilchulbong tuff cone rising out of the ocean bestows a dramatic landscape. And Mount Hallasan, the highest mountain in South Korea at 1950 meters above sea level, boasts picturesque waterfalls, multi-shaped rock formations, and a lake-filled crater

The diverse volcanic landscapes on Jeju Island, resulting from volcanic activities, are still developing and are well worth visiting. These include the shield volcano, exemplified by those forming around Mt. Hallasan; the small-scale parasitic volcanoes, represented by Seongsan Ilchulbong tuff cone; and the lava tubes formed in the basaltic lava flows. Together, these volcanic features form a significant portion of the world's natural reserve.

Avian and hominid footprint fossils have also been found on Jeju Island. Some of the lava tubes contain artifacts used by prehistoric human beings, and scientists believe these early inhabitants of the island used the lava tubes for shelter or as sacred places.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Seokguram Grotto - an extraordinary Buddhist cave temple built by hand

View and Read More

This phenomenal cave temple houses a large, exquisitely carved Buddha statue looking out to sea. The artificial cave, built on top of a mountain, was constructed using complex mathematical theories 1200 years ago.

Established in the 8th century on the slopes of Mount Toham, the Seokguram Grotto contains a monumental statue of the Buddha in the Bhumisparsha Mudra position looking toward the sea. With the surrounding portrayals of gods, Bodhisattvas and disciples, all realistically and delicately sculpted in high and low relief, it is considered a masterpiece of Buddhist art in the Far East. Together the Seokguram Grotto and the nearby Temple of Bulguksa form a religious architectural complex of exceptional significance.

Overlooking the East Sea from the southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula, Seokguram stands as a proud testimony to Korea's exceptional tradition of classical Buddhist sculpture. The centuries-old cave temple, enclosing an extraordinary collection of sculptured divinities symbolizing Buddhist philosophy and aestheticism, is a structure of exquisite beauty culminating religious belief, science and fine arts, which flowered in the golden age of Asian art.

Seokguram is located near the summit of Mt. Toham, east of the historic city of Gyeongju, which was the capital of the Silla Kingdom from 57B.C.- A.D.935. Quite remote, it is reached after an hour-long walk up a steep, winding mountain path over some four kilometers from the nearby Temple of Bulguksa.

One of Korea's most popular tourist destinations, Seokguram differs in construction from cave temples in India and China where Buddhism flourished before arriving in Korea. The cave pantheons in India and China were mostly built by digging into hillsides and carving on natural rocks. Instead, at Seokgurm, an incredible artificial cave was created using great granite stones high on the mountain some 750 meters above sea level. The unique architectural technique used to construct Seokguram is unprecedented the world over.

Highlighted by the majestic seated Buddha with a serene, all-knowing expression as the primary object of worship, Seokguram enshrines an impressive assembly of 40 different divinities embodying various aspects of Buddhist teaching. The grotto chapel has an exceptional feeling of peace and harmony resulting in an intense spiritual impression. Modern scientists studying the history of Seokguram have discovered that, aside from the incredible skill needed to handle solid granite, the Silla architects used complex mathematical equations including the geometric theories of the golden rectangle and symmetry to construct the cave temple. Seokguram is an ancient architectural marvel indeed.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bulguksa Temple - a masterpiece of beauty and Buddhist belief

View and Read More

This ancient temple complex is an exquisite example of Far Eastern religious art. It is a survivor: it has endured fire and war, and stands today embodying beauty, grace and equanimity.

The Temple of Bulguksa is the grand centerpiece of a religious architectural complex of exceptional significance. Built in the year 774, Bulguksa has been inscribed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List as a masterpiece of Far Eastern Buddhist art. The temple complex is not only an outstanding example of religious architecture of the region, but also of the material expression of Buddhist belief.

As the name indicates, Bulguksa was designed to be an illumination of the blissful state of the Buddha in the present world. It was intended to embody the happy land where the mortal being is released from the suffering of life by following the teachings of the Buddha or the Lotus Land, as promised in the Avatamsaka Sutra. This embodiment of the Lotus Land offered the theoretical foundation for the construction of the temple. Thus, the purpose of the temple design was two-fold it was to be faithful to the teachings of the Buddha, and it was to be beautiful.

Among the many treasures of Bulguksa, the distinguished pair of pagodas in the main courtyard has a unique and unparalled history. The two dynamic and distinct stone pagodas, standing some 100 feet apart, have survived for over 12 centuries, withstanding the flames of war that engulfed and destroyed all of the temple's original wooden structures. None of the some thousand stone pagodas scattered across Korea excel them for their profound philosophical depth and aesthetic charm. They are a perfect pair, as the princely dignity and simplicity of the Seokga Pagoda dramatically enhances the complexity of the lavishly decorated Pagoda of Many Treasures.

The Seokga Pagoda is also called the "Pagoda without Reflections", denoting the sad legend of Asanyeo, wife of the Baekje mason, Asadal, who built the pagoda. The poor woman came to Gyeongju to see her husband as years had passed without any news from him. As no outsiders were allowed into the holy building site, she was told to wait by a pond near the temple until the completed pagoda cast a reflection in the water. She waited in vain.?No reflection appeared, and she finally threw herself into the pond.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

World Heritage Tour in Korea: Gyeongju Historic Areas - a unique outdoor museum

View and Read More

This region of the country houses a wonderful collection of Korean Buddhist art from the ancient Silla Kingdom, which can be found both above and below ground.

The Gyeongju Historic Areas encompasses a remarkable concentration of wonderful examples of Korean Buddhist art, in the form of sculptures, reliefs, pagodas, and the remains of temples and palaces, including the renowned Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto. Gyeongju City and its surroundings have inherited traces of the glory of this unique artistic expression that blossomed and withered in the ancient Silla Kingdom (BC 57 - AD 935).

Excavations of this delightful city and its outer reaches reveal a treasure trove of buried secrets. The ruins of Wolseong, the Half Moon Palace; many temple and fortress sites, including Hwangnyongsa, the Temple of the Yellow Dragon; the exquisite astronomical observatory of Cheomseongdae; huge royal mounds; and ancient wells and bridges have provided a wealth of archaeological data.From royal tombs and palace sites, to stone sculptures and rock-cut reliefs of the Buddha, to pottery buried for more than a millennia, Gyeongju holds thousands of relics within its noble embrace that embody Buddhist teachings and compassion.

The Gyeongju Historic Areas comprises a wealth of beautiful and wondrous artifacts for studying Buddhist culture and the arts of the Far East, as well as for studying the techniques of the ancient kingdoms most talented and gifted craftsmen. This area is considered to be an outdoor museum, where this magnificent collection of beautiful examples of Korean Buddhist art is housed within nature.