Kyongju (South Korea)

2017-04-15 13:42:29 , Source : The Government Website of Shaanxi Province

Gyeongju was the capital city of Silla for 992 years. The history of Gyeongju, once called Seorabeol, is also the history of the thousand-year-old Silla Kingdom.

Gyeongju embraces Buddhism, science, andvibrant ancient culture that blossomed by the artistry of the Silla people, and the great spirits of Hwarangdo that enabled the unification of the three kingdoms. Thus, Gyeongju is a UNESCO-designated city which should be preserved by the public. The evergreen spirit of Silla has been alive here for nearly a thousand years. With a thousand years of the evergreen spirit of Silla, Gyeongju is truly a museum without a roof.

Climate

Due to its coastal location, Gyeongju has a slightly milder and wetter climate than the more inland regions of Korea. In general, however, the city's climate is typical of South Korea. It has hot summers and cool winters, with a monsoon season between late June and early August. As on the rest of Korea's east coast, autumn typhoons are not uncommon. The average annual rainfall is 1,091 millimeters (43.0 in), and the average annual high temperatures range from 8.6–31.1 °C (47–88 °F).

Gyeongju's historic city center lies on the banks of the Hyeongsan in Gyeongju Basin. This low-lying area has been subject to repeated flooding throughout recorded history, often as a result of typhoons. On average, chronicles report a major flood every 27.9 years, beginning in the 1st century. Modern flood control mechanisms brought about a dramatic reduction in flooding in the later 20th century. The last major flood occurred in 1991, when the Deokdong Lake reservoir overflowed due to Typhoon Gladys.

Subdivisions

The city is divided into 23 administrative districts: 4 eup, 8 myeon, and 11 dong. These are the standard subdivisions of cities and counties in South Korea. The dong or neighborhood units occupy the area of the city center, which was formerly occupied by Gyeongju-eup. Eup are typically substantial villages, whereas myeon are more rural.

The city's boundaries and designation changed several times in the 20th century. From 1895 to 1955, the area was known as Gyeongju-gun ("Gyeongju County"). In the first decades of the century, the city center was known as Gyeongju-myeon, signifying a relatively rural rea. In 1931, the downtown area was designated Gyeongju-eup, in recognition of its increasingly urban nature. In 1955, Gyeongju-eup became Gyeongju-si ("Gyeongju City"), the same name as today, but with a much smaller area. The remainder of Gyeongju-gun became "Wolseong County." The county and city were reunited in 1995, creating Gyeongju City as it is today.

Tourism

Gyeongju is a major tourist destination for South Koreans as well as foreign visitors. It boasts the 1000 years of Silla heritage with vast number of ancient ruins and archaeological sites found throughout the city, which help to attract 6 million visiting tourists including 750,000 foreigners per year. The city government has parlayed its historic status into a basis for other tourism-related developments such as conferences, festivals, and resorts.

Many Silla sites are located in Gyeongju National Park such as the Royal Tomb Complex, the Cheomseongdae observatory that is one of the oldest surviving astronomical observatories in East Asia, the Anapji royal pond garden, and the Gyerim forest. Gyeongju National Museum hosts many important artifacts and national treasures that have been excavated from sites within the city and surrounding areas.

Much of Gyeongju's heritages are related to the Silla kingdom's patronage of Buddhism. The grotto of Seokguram and the temple of Bulguksa were the first Korean sites to be included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995. In addition, the ruins of the old Hwangnyongsa temple, said to have been Korean's largest, are preserved on the slopes of Toham Mountain. Various Silla-era stone carvings of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are found on mountainsides throughout the city, particularly on Namsan.

A significant portion of Gyeongju's tourist traffic is due to the city's promotion of itself as a site for various festivals, conferences, and competitions. Every year since 1962, the Silla cultural festival has been held in October to celebrate and honour the dynasty's history and culture. It is one of the major festivals of Korea. It features athletic events, folk games, music, dance, literary contests and Buddhist religious ceremonies. Other festivals include the Cherry Blossom Marathon in April, the Korean Traditional Liquor and Cake festival in March, and memorial ceremonies for the founders of the Silla Dynasty and General Kim Yu-sin.

There were 15 hotels including Hilton Hotel, Gyeognju Chosun Hotel, and 276 lodging facilities, and 2,817 restaurants in Gyeongju in 2006.

Cuisine

The cuisine of Gyeongju is generally typical of the cuisine elsewhere in Gyeongsang province: spicy and salty. However, it has distinctive tastes according to region and several local specialties known nationwide. The most famous of these is "Gyeongju bread" or "Hwangnam bread", a red-bean pastry first baked in 1939 and now sold throughout the country. Chalboribbang, made with locally produced glutinous barley, is also a pastry with a filling of red bean paste. Local specialties with a somewhat longer pedigree include beopju, a traditional Korean liquor produced by the Gyeongju Choe in Gyo-dong. The brewing skill and distill master were designated as Important Intangible Cultural Properties by South Korea government.

Other local specialities include ssambap, haejangguk, and muk. Ssambap refers to a rice dish served with vegetable leaves, various banchan (small side dishes) and condiments such as gochujang (chili pepper paste) or ssamjang (a mixture of soybean paste and gochujang) to wrap them together. Most ssambap restaurants in Gyeongju are gathered in the area of Daenuengwon or Grand Tumuli Park. Haejangguk is a kind of soup eaten as a hangover cure, and means "soup to chase a hangover". A street dedicated to haejangguk is located near Gyeongju National Museum, where 20 haejangguk restaurants are gathered to serve the Gyeongju-style haejangguk. The soup is made by boiling soybean sprout, sliced memilmuk (buckwheat starch jelly), sour kimchi (pickled vegetables) and gulfweed in a clear broth of dried anchovy and Alaska pollack.

The east district of Gyeongju, Gampo-eup town, is adjacent to the sea, so fresh seafood and jeotgal (fermented salted seafood) are abundant. There are over 240 seafood restaurants in Gampo Harbor offering various dishes made with seafood caught in the sea, such as hoe (raw fish dishes), jeonboktang (an abalone soup), grilled seafood and others.