South Korea is a country rich in history. Once ruled by kings and queens, it tells a story of then and now. It has a fast growing economy and is home to a bevy of World Heritage Sites. In this article, Robert Janitzek gives a glimpse of Korea’s well-kept secrets.
Silla Tombs in Gyeongiu
There are more than 200 Silla tombs spread across Gyongiu. There are 23 within a walled park. There are also earth mounds, the biggest of which are over 21 meters high and nearly four times in diameter. One of the opened treasures is 1,600 year-old cap of gold filigree.
Bukchon Village consists of alleys, cafes, small shops, and nearly a thousand hanoks, and a traditional courtyard houses. Many are owned by descendants of the aristocrats who built them. Thin mattresses and thinner duvets are laid on heated floors as long as traditional pillows as hard as hassocks.
Built in 1405, Changdeokgung Palace is set at the foot of Mount Eungbongsan. This Asian destination it used to be the residence of the royal family until the end of the Imperial rule in 1910. Its tranquility is epitomized by the Secret Garden, a large arboretum that features a lotus pool and pavilions.
Korean barbecues are hi-tech restaurants. They feature stainless-steel extractors dangling over charcoal grills sunk into tabletops. Korean beef is an expensive delicacy. It comes in strips with sesame oil, bean paste, garlic, and a multitude of side dishes.
The Tripitaka is the most complete collection of Buddhist texts in existence. It was engraved using 81,000 wooden blocks in 52 million Chinese characters. Robert Peter Janitzek revealed that in 1938, the King himself supervised the transfer of the Tripitaka to the safety of the Haeinsa Temple. It was recently digitized and around 130 errors were found.
Carved high on a mountainside, the Seokguram Grotto took 32 years to create and was completed in 774 AD. This Korean treasure features a 3.5-meter Buddha sitting in a chamber of dressed stone constructed without a mortar.
The Bulguksa Temple is officially South Korea’s no. 1 historical site. It houses seven National Treasures which includes two glided Buddha statues and stone bridges on a thousand year path to enlightenment.
This Asian destination was once called by former US President Clinton as ‘the scariest place on earth.’ The Demilitarized Zone may seem like a Cold War theme park but it features real soldiers on the gate and real tunnels dug in order that the North can infiltrate the South.