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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hwaseong Fortress - a splendid battlement with a sorrowful history

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A magnificent stronghold was built by an emperor at the end of the 18th century to house his beloved fathers remains.

When Emperor Joengjo of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) moved his father's tomb to Suwon city at the end of the 18th century, he surrounded it with strong defensive works designed by an influential military architect of the period. He erected massive walls that extended for nearly 6km, bastions and artillery towers, all to protect and honor his fathers remains.

Hwaseong Fortress is an outstanding example of early modern military architecture. Embracing the busy downtown area of the present Suwon city (the capital of Gyeonggi province, some 30km south of Seoul), it embodies Jeongjo's devotion to his father and his ideals for a modern administrative and commercial center with stalwart defense.

Hwaseong Fortress is of magnificent size. It spreads out over a widely changing landscape, from high mountain ridges overlooking a crowded urban center to a flatland park to a bustling marketplace surrounded by a densely populated neighborhood. The fortress looks remarkably different from most other ancient town walls and military fortifications scattered across the country. It is notable not only for its diverse functions but also for its visual originality and technical innovation involved in its design and construction.

Visitors are permitted to stroll along the fortress, and one may imagine the hopes and ambitions of the emperor as he built this magnificent fortification to create a robust city and to shield and shelter his city's inhabitants from invaders. For those who are inclined to historical romance, his tragic childhood experience and his noble affection for his parents adds a remorseful color to the excursion along the stronghold, punctuated with crenels and merlons and highlighted by lofty watch towers and secret gates leading down to dark labyrinths.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana Wood blocks - incredibly preserved Buddhist texts engraved on wood block

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Master craftsmen engraved Buddhist texts onto blocks of wood nearly 800 years ago. They have been remarkably preserved, and are in near perfect condition.

The Temple of Haeinsa on Mount Kaya is home to the Tripitaka Koreana, the most complete collection of Buddhist texts in the world. These texts were incredibly engraved on 80,000 wooden blocks nearly 800 years ago during the Goryeo Dynasty, between the years 1237 and 1248. The buildings of Janggyeong Pangeon were built in the 15th century to house the wood blocks. As the oldest depository of the Tripitaka, the Janggyeong Pangeon reveals an astonishing mastery of the invention and implementation of conservation techniques used to preserve these exceptional works of art.

The World Heritage Committee inscribed this site on the World Heritage List because the Tripitaka Koreana is one of the most important and most complete bodies of Buddhist doctrinal texts in the world. In addition, the buildings in which the scriptures are housed are remarkable as they have preserved these ancient wooden texts against deterioration and disintegration due to age, environmental and weather conditions, insects, etc.

Even though nearly 800 years has been passed since the Tripitaka Koreana was carved, the wooden blocks on which the texts are engraved are in near perfect condition. The wooden blocks and the carefully, devotedly engraved words on them illustrate the superior craftsmanship of the artists.

This engraving of Buddhist manuscripts onto wooden blocks is the oldest example of this type of artwork on Earth. Therefore, these teachings are a wonderful example of Buddhist wisdom and knowledge.

At the same time, the Tripitaka Koreana has greatly influenced the early development of printing and publishing around the globe. Thus, the Tripitaka Koreana is a shining example of both the culture of the Goryeo Dynasty and of Buddhist history, both of which have enlightened the world.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty - structural and natural magnificence to honor the ancestors

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The ancient tradition of ancestral worship is perpetuated in modern times through the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty. Located in areas of sublime beauty, the tombs are sacred structures that inspire devotion.

The Royal Tombs of Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) are an outstanding example of a type of architectural ensemble that illustrates a significant stage in the development of Korean burial mounds. The royal tombs, with their place in nature and their unique and regularized configuration of buildings and structures, manifest and reinforce the centuries-old tradition and living practice of ancestral worship.

The Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty form a collection of 40 tombs scattered over 18 locations across the country. Built over five centuries, from 1408 to 1966, the tombs honored the memory of ancestors, showed respect for their achievements, asserted royal authority, protected ancestral spirits from evil and provided protection from vandalism. The Joseon Tombs completes the 5,000 year history of royal tombs architecture in the Korean peninsula.

The ensemble of structures that comprise the Royal Tombs features a ceremonial area and an entrance, alongside the burial mounds. In addition, associated buildings that are an integral part of the tombs include a T-shaped wooden shrine, a shed for stele, a royal kitchen and a guards house, a red-spiked gate and the tomb keepers house. The grounds are adorned with a range of stone objects, many featuring figures of people and animals.

The tombs were built in places of outstanding natural beauty, with the back side of the tombs protected by a hill as they face south toward water and, ideally, with mountain ridges visible in the distance.

Within the context of Confucian cultures, the integrated approach of the Royal Tombs of Joseon with nature and the universe has resulted in a distinctive and significant funeral tradition in Korea. The beautiful natural surroundings of the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty, shaped by the principles of pungsu (feng shui in Chinese), create a delicate, sacred setting for the living tradition of ancestral worship and its associated rites in modern times.