Ancient Ruins of North Korea’s Old Capital Joins World Heritage List

Ancient Ruins of North Korea’s Old Capital Joins World Heritage List

The remains of an ancient capital of Korea’s Koryo Dynasty , located on the northern side close to the border with South Korea has joined UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

The old capital, known as Kaesong, ruled a united Korea between 918 and 1392. It is also the location of the joint factory park that was recently closed as a result of tensions between the two nations.

North Korea’s bid to have the site added to the World Heritage List was approved last Sunday at a UNESCO meeting in Cambodia, which also saw the addition of 13 other sites including Mount Etna in Italy, Mount Fuji in Japan, and the Honghe Hani Rice Terraces in China.

To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value. Kaesong is said to have met this criteria as it consists of 12 separate sites, which together testify to the history and culture of the Koryo Dynasty from the 10th to 14th centuries. The sites include the ruins of the Manwoldae palace, a 1,000-year-old academy which was the top school during that era, an observatory, commemorative steles, and the mausoleum of King Kongmin.

UNESCO has stated that: “the geomantic layout of the former capital city of Kaesong, its palaces, institutions and tomb complex, defensive walls and gates embody the political, cultural, philosophical and spiritual values of a crucial era in the region’s history.” It also reflects the transition from Buddhism to neo-Confucianism in East Asia.

‘These valuable cultural relics are the pride of our nation and they are precious cultural relics that show the long history of our nation,’ Kim Jin Sok, a researcher at Kaesong City Management Office for Preserving National Heritage said.

This is the second entry on the World Heritage List for North Korea, after the complex of ancient tombs in Pyonyang won heritage status in 2004.

It is unknown whether the new heritage status will do anything to encourage visitors to the troubled and domineering nation which has caused world-wide concern due to its heightened aggression and threats of war against South Korea and the United States.

    For centuries before the division, the peninsula was a single, unified Korea, ruled by generations of dynastic kingdoms. Occupied by Japan after the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 and formally annexed five years later, Korea chafed under Japanese colonial rule for 35 years—until the end of World War II, when its division into two nations began.

    “The catalyzing incident is the decision that was made—really, without the Koreans involved�tween the Soviet Union and the United States to divide Korea into two occupation zones,” says Michael Robinson, professor emeritus of East Asian Studies and History at Indiana University, who has written extensively on both modern Korea and its history.

    Map of the Korean peninsula including North and South Korea. (Credit: Filo/Getty Images)


    The early history of Gyeongju is closely tied to that of the Silla kingdom, of which it was the capital. Gyeongju first enters non-Korean records as Saro-guk, during the Samhan period in the early Common Era. [24] Korean records, probably based on the dynastic chronicles of Silla, record that Saro-guk was established in 57 BCE, when six small villages in the Gyeongju area united under Bak Hyeokgeose. As the kingdom expanded, it changed its name to Silla. [25] During the Silla period, the city was called "Seorabeol" (lit. Capital), [24] "Gyerim" (lit. Rooster's forest) or "Geumseong" (lit. City of Gold). [26]

    After the unification of the peninsula up to Taedong River [27] in 668 AD, Gyeongju became the center of Korean political and cultural life. [28] The city was home to the Silla court and the great majority of the kingdom's elite. Its prosperity became legendary, and was reported as far away as Persia according to the 9th century book The Book of Roads and Kingdoms. [29] Records of Samguk Yusa give the city's population in its peak period as 178,936 households, [26] suggesting that the total population was almost one million. [30] [31] [32] Many of Gyeongju's most famous sites date from this Unified Silla period, which ended in the late 9th century by Goryeo (918–1392). [24] [25]

    In 940, the founder of Goryeo, King Taejo, changed the city's name to "Gyeongju", [33] which literally means "Congratulatory district". [34] In 987, as Goryeo introduced a system in which three additional capitals were established in politically important provinces outside Gaegyeong (nowadays Kaesong), and Gyeongju was designated as "Donggyeong" ("East Capital"). However, that title was removed in 1012, the third year of King Hyeongjong's reign, due to political rivalries at that time, [33] [35] though Gyeongju was later made the seat of Yeongnam Province. [24] It had jurisdiction over a wide area, including much of central eastern Yeongnam, [24] although this area was greatly reduced in the 13th century. [33] Under the subsequent Joseon (1392–1910) dynasties, Gyeongju was no longer of national importance, but remained a regional center of influence. [24] In 1601, the city ceased to be the provincial capital. [36]

    Over these centuries, the city suffered numerous assaults. In the 13th century, Mongol forces destroyed a nine-story wooden pagoda at Hwangnyongsa. [24] [37] During the Japanese invasions of Korea, the Gyeongju area became a heated battlefield, [24] and Japanese forces burned the wooden structures at Bulguksa. [38] [39] Not all damage was due to invasions, however. In the early Joseon period, a great deal of damage was done to Buddhist sculptures on Namsan by Neo-Confucian radicals, who hacked arms and heads off statuary. [40]

    In the 20th century, the city remained relatively small, no longer ranking among the major cities of Korea. [41] During the early 20th century, many archaeological excavations were conducted, particularly inside the tombs which had remained largely intact over the centuries. [42] A museum, the forerunner of the present-day Gyeongju National Museum, was inaugurated in 1915 to exhibit the excavated artifacts. [43]

    Gyeongju emerged as a railroad junction in the later years of the Japanese Occupation, as the Donghae Nambu Line and Jungang Line were established in preparation for the Second Sino-Japanese War and to exploit the rich resources of the eastern part of the Korean peninsula. [44] [45] Following liberation in 1945, Korea was plunged into turmoil, and Gyeongju was no exception. Returnees from abroad were numerous a village for them was constructed in present-day Dongcheon-dong. [46] In a period marked by widespread conflict and unrest, the Gyeongju area became particularly notorious for the level of guerrilla activity in the mountains. [47]

    Despite the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, most of Gyeongju was spared from the fighting, and remained under South Korean control throughout the conflict. However, for a brief time in late 1950 portions of the city stood on the front lines, as North Korean forces pushed the Pusan Perimeter southward from Pohang. [48]

    In the 1970s, Korea saw substantial industrial development, much of it centered in the Yeongnam region of which Gyeongju is a part. [49] [50] The POSCO steel mill in neighboring Pohang commenced operations in 1973, [51] and the chemical manufacturing complex in Ulsan emerged in the same year. [52] These developments helped to support the emergence of Gyeongju's manufacturing sector. [21]

    Gyeongju lies in the southeastern corner of North Gyeongsang Province, and is bounded by the metropolitan city of Ulsan on the south. Within the province, its neighbors include Pohang on the north, Cheongdo County on the southwest, and Yeongcheon on the northwest. [2] Gyeongju is located about 50 kilometers (31 mi) north of Busan. [3] To the east, it has no neighbor but the sea. [2]

    Most of Gyeongju lies in the Gyeongsang Basin, but a few areas of the city belong to the Pohang Basin, such as Eoil-ri and Beomgok-ri in Yangbuk-myeon, and part of Cheonbuk-myeon. The Gyeongsang Basin areas consist of Bulguksa intrusive rock penetrating layers of sedimentary rocks, mainly granite and porphyry. By contrast, the Pohang Basin areas are made up of stratum that formed in the Tertiary period of the Cenozoic era, which consist of igneous rock, aqueous rock, porphyry, sandstone, and tuff. [54]

    Low mountains are widespread throughout Gyeongju. The highest of these are the Taebaek Mountains, which run along the city's western border. Gyeongju's highest point, Munbok Mountain (문복산), is 1,015 meters (3,330 ft) above sea level. This peak lies in Sannae-myeon, on the border with Cheongdo. [55] East of the Taebaek range, other western peaks such as Danseok Mountain lie within the Jusa subrange. [56] The city's eastern peaks, including Toham Mountain, belong to the Haean Mountains and Dongdae Mountains. [57] [58]

    Gyeongju's drainage patterns are shaped by these lines of mountains. [7] The Dongdae Mountains divide a narrow foothills area on their east, and various internal river systems to the west. Most of the city's interior is drained by the small Hyeongsan River, which flows north from Ulsan and meets the sea at Pohang Harbor. The Hyeongsan's chief tributaries include the Bukcheon and Namcheon, which join it in Gyeongju Basin. [7] The southwestern corner of Gyeongju, on the far side of the Taebaek range, drains into the Geumho River, which then flows into the Nakdong. A small area of the south, just west of the Dongdae range, drains into the Taehwa River, which flows into the Bay of Ulsan. [59] [60]

    The Gyeongju coastline runs for 36.1 kilometers (22.4 mi) between Pohang in the north and Ulsan in the south. [61] There are no islands or large bays, only the small indentations made by the small streams flowing off the Dongdae ridgeline. Because of this, the city has no significant ports, though there are 12 small harbors. [62] One such harbor in Gyeongju's southeast corner is home to the Ulsan base of the National Maritime Police. This base is responsible for security over a wide area of South Korea's east-central coast. [63] [64] [65]

    Climate Edit

    Due to its coastal location, Gyeongju has a slightly milder 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). [66]

    Gyeongju's historic city center lies on the banks of the Hyeongsan in Gyeongju Basin. This lowlying 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. [67] 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. [68]

    Climate data for 36.0° N, 129.4° E
    Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
    Average high °C (°F) 5.7
    Average low °C (°F) −3.3
    Average precipitation mm (inches) 34.4
    Source: Climatological Information for Pohang, Hong Kong Observatory, 1961–1990

    The executive branch of the government is headed by a mayor and vice-mayor. As in other South Korean cities and counties, the mayor is elected directly, while the vice-mayor is appointed. [69] As of 2019, the mayor is Joo Nak-young, who was elected on June 13, 2018 in the local elections. [70] [71] He is Gyeongju's fifth mayor to be directly elected, the sixth to preside over the city in its present form, and the 31st mayor since 1955. [72] Like most heads of government in the Yeongnam region, he is a member of the conservative Liberty Korea Party. [73] [74] [75]

    The legislative branch consists of the Gyeongju City Council, with 21 members as of 2009. [76] [77] The present City Council was formed from the merger of the old Gyeongju City Council with the Wolseong County Council in 1991. Most subdivisions of Gyeongju elect a single member to represent them in the Council, but Angang-eup is represented by two members because of its large population, and two of the representatives serve combined districts composed of two dong. Like the mayor, the council members were last elected in 2006, except for a small number elected in more recent by-elections.

    The central administration is composed of a City Council committee, five departments, two subsidiary organs, a chamber (the auditor), and six business offices. The five departments are the departments of Planning and Culture, Autonomous Administration, Industry and Environment, Construction and Public Works, and the National Enterprise Committee these oversee a total of 29 subdivisions. The two subsidiary organs are the Health Care Center and Agro-technology Center these belong directly to the central administration and have a total of 4 subdivisions. In addition, there are 23 local administrative subdivisions. Each of these subdivisions has a local office with a small administrative staff. [78] As of December 2008, the city government employed 1,462 people. [79]

    The city is divided into 23 administrative districts: 4 eup, 8 myeon, and 11 dong. [80] [81] 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. [61] [82]

    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. [24]

    When the Silla kingdom reached the peak of its development, Gyeongju was estimated to have a million residents, four times the city's population in 2008. [2] [31] In recent years, Gyeongju has followed the same trends that have affected the rest of South Korea. Like the country as a whole, Gyeongju has seen its population age and the size of families shrink. For instance, the mean household size is 2.8 people. Because this has fallen in recent years, there are more households in the city as of 2008 (105,009) than there were in 2003, even though the population has fallen. [83]

    Like most of South Korea's smaller cities, Gyeongju has seen a steady drop in population in recent years. From 2002 to 2008, the city lost 16,557 people. [84] This is primarily due to the migration of workers seeking employment in the major South Korean cities. In 2007, about 1,975 more people moved away from the city each year than moved in. [85] During the same period, births exceeded deaths by roughly 450 per year, a significant number but not enough to offset the losses due to migration. [86]

    Gyeongju has a small but growing population of non-Koreans. In 2007, there were 4,671 foreigners living in Gyeongju. This number corresponds to 1.73% of the total population, more than double the figure from 2003. The growth was largely in immigrants from other Asian countries, many of whom are employed in the automotive parts industry. Countries of origin whose numbers have risen include the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Vietnam. The number of residents from Japan, the United States, and Canada fell significantly in the 2003–2007 period. [87]

    Dialect Edit

    The city has a distinctive dialect which it shares with northern portions of Ulsan. This dialect is similar to the general Gyeongsang dialect, but retains distinctive features of its own. Some linguists have treated the distinctive characteristics of the Gyeongju dialect as vestiges of the Silla language. For instance, the contrast between the local dialect form " 소내기 " (sonaegi) and the standard " 소나기 " (sonagi, meaning "rainshower") has been seen as reflecting the ancient phonemic character of the Silla language. [88]

    Cultural properties Edit

    Gyeongju is the main destination in South Korea for visitors interested in the cultural heritage of Silla and the architecture of the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910). The city has 31 National Treasures, and Gyeongju National Museum houses 16,333 artifacts. [89] There are four broad categories of relics and historical sites: tumuli and their artifacts Buddhist sites and objects fortresses and palace sites and ancient architecture. Prehistoric remains including Mumun pottery have been excavated in central Gyeongju, in the Moa-ri and Oya-ri villages of the Cheonbuk-myeon district, and in the Jukdong-ri village of the Oedong-eup district. Dolmens are found in several places, especially in Gangdong-myeon and Moa-ri. Bronze Age relics found in Angye-ri village of Gangdong-myeon, Jukdong-ri and Ipsil-ri villages of Oedong-eup and graveyards in the Joyang-dong district represent the Samhan confederacy period of around the 1st century BC to the 3rd century AD. [90]

    There are 35 royal tombs and 155 tumuli in central Gyeongju, and 421 tumuli in the outskirts of the city. [91] Silla burial mounds built after the period of the Three Kingdoms are found in central Gyeongju, including tumuli in the districts of Noseo-dong, Nodong-dong, Hwangnam-dong, Hwango-dong and Inwang-dong. Western Gyeongju has the tomb of King Muyeol in Seoak-dong, nearby tumuli in Chunghyo-dong and the tomb of Kim Yu-sin. The tombs of Queen Seondeok, King Sinmun, King Hyogong and King Sinmu are at the base of Namsan mountain while the tombs of King Heongang, King Jeonggang, King Gyeongmyeong and King Gyeongae are on the slopes of the mountain. In addition to the tombs, tumuli have been found surrounding Namsan mountain and in the western part of Geumgang mountain. Artifacts excavated from the tombs of Geumgwanchong (gold crown tomb), Seobongchong (western phoenix tomb), Cheonmachong (heavenly horse tomb) and northern and southern parts of Tomb No. 98 are good examples of Silla culture. [90]

    Notable people Edit

    Gyeongju has produced notable individuals throughout its history. As the capital of Silla, Gyeongju was a center of culture in its heyday. [31] Notable Gyeongju residents in the Silla period included most of the kingdom's leading figures, not only rulers but scholars such as Seol Chong and Choe Chi-won, [92] [93] [94] and generals like Kim Yusin, the leader of the Hwarang warriors. [95] The city continued to contribute to traditional Korean thought in subsequent dynasties. Relatives of Choe Chi-won such as Choe Eon-wui and Choe Hang played an important role in establishing the structures of early Goryeo. [33] [96] [97] In the Joseon period, Gyeongju joined the rest of Gyeongsang in becoming a hotbed of the conservative Sarim faction. Notable Gyeongju members of this faction included the 15th century intellectual Yi Eon-jeok. He has been enshrined in the Oksan Seowon since 1572. [98] [99] [100] In modern times, the city produced writers such as Kim Dong-ni and Park Mok-wol, both of whom did a great deal to popularize the region's culture, [41] [101] [102] as well as Choe Jun, a wealthy businessman who established the Yeungnam University Foundation. [103]

    Some Korean family clans trace their origins to Gyeongju, often to the ruling elites of Silla. For example, the Gyeongju Kim clan claims descent from the rulers of later Silla. [104] The Gyeongju Park and Gyeongju Seok clans trace their ancestry to Silla's earlier ruling families. These three royal clans played a strong role in preserving the historical precincts of Gyeongju into modern times. [105] The Gyeongju Choe and Lee clans also trace their ancestry to the Silla elites. Prominent members of the Gyeongju Lee clan include Goryeo period scholar Yi Je-hyeon, and Joseon period scholars Yi Hwang and Yi Hang-bok. A contemporary notable figure from the Gyeongju Lee clan is Lee Byung-chull, the founder of Samsung Group. [106] However, not all Gyeongju clans date to the Silla period for instance, the Gyeongju Bing clan was founded in the early Joseon Dynasty. [107] [108]

    Religion Edit

    The city remains an important centre of Korean Buddhism. East of the downtown area lies Bulguksa, one of South Korea's largest Buddhist temples nearby is Seokguram, a famed Buddhist shrine. Traditional prayer locations are found on mountains throughout Gyeongju. Such mountains include Namsan near the city center, [109] Danseok-san and Obong-san in the west, and the low peak of Hyeong-san on the Gyeongju-Pohang border. [110] Namsan in particular is often referred to as "the sacred mountain" due to the Buddhist shrines and statues which cover its slopes. [111] In addition, Gyeongju is the birthplace of Cheondoism, an indigenous religion to Korea based on Korean shamanism, Taoism and Korean Buddhism, with elements drawn from Christianity. The religion evolved from Donghak (lit. East learning) disciplines established by Choe Je-u. His birthplace of Yongdamjeong, located in Hyeongok-myeon, is regarded as a sacred place to followers of Cheondogyo. [100] [112] [113]

    Cuisine Edit

    The cuisine of Gyeongju is generally similar to other areas of Gyeongsang province: spicy and salty. [114] [115] [116] However, it has distinctive tastes according to region and several local specialties known nationwide. [116] 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. [117] [118] Chalboribbang, made with locally produced glutinous barley, is also a pastry with a filling of red bean paste. [119] [120] 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. [121] [122] [123]

    Other local specialities include ssambap, haejangguk, and muk. [124] 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. [125] Haejangguk is a kind of soup eaten as a hangover cure, and means "soup to chase a hangover". [126] 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. [127]

    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. [128] [129] [130]

    As of 2007, Gyeongju city had two stadiums, two gymnasiums, two tennis courts, one swimming pool and others as public sport facilities as well as various registered private sports venues. [131] [132] Many of public sport facilities are located in Hwangseong Park with an area of 1,022,350 m 2 (11,004,500 sq ft) including a luxuriant pine trees forest. [133] [134] The site was originally the location of the artificial forest of Doksan which was established for feng shui purposes during the Silla period. It was also used as a training ground for hwarang warriors and hunting spot for Silla kings, and was reported to be King Jinpyeong's favorite location. [135] [136] In 1975, Hwangseong Park was designated a "city neighborhood park" and it currently consists of the multi-purpose Gyeongju Public Stadium, Football Park (with seven football fields and one futsal field), and one gymnasium, as well as Horimjang field for gukgung or Korean traditional archery and a ssireum wrestling ring. [137] In addition, it contains a gateball field, an inline skating rink, jogging courses, and cycling roads. [138] The Gyeongju Public Stadium was completed in 1982 [131] and can accommodate 20,000 people at capacity. [133]

    Angang Field Hockey Stadium, located in the district of Angang-eup, is home to Gyeongju City Hockey, which is one of four professional women's field hockey teams in South Korea. [139] [140] The team was formed in 1994, [141] and is governed by the Sport and Youth Division of Gyeongju City. [142] Although not an initial successful team, Gyeongju City Hockey won the first trophies both at National Division Hockey Championships and National Sports Festival in 2000. In 2002, Gyeongju City Hockey took a first prize and three second prizes, [141] and in 2008, the team won the first prize at the 51st National Division Hockey Championships. [143]

    The city plays host to two annual marathon events. The Gyeongju International Marathon, held in October, garners elite level competition while the larger Gyeongju Cherry Blossom Marathon caters more for amateur fun runners. The Cherry Blossom Marathon has been held each year in Gyeongju since 1992, usually in April, to improve relations with Japan (a country with a long history of marathon running). [144] The race, mainly sponsored by Gyeongju city and the district, attracted 13,600 participants in 2009 including about 1,600 foreigners. [145]

    The economy of Gyeongju is more diverse than the city's image as a tourist haven would suggest. [21] [22] Although tourism is important to the economy, most residents work in other fields. Over 27,000 are employed in manufacturing compared to roughly 13,500 in the hospitality industry. The number involved in tourism has remained constant over recent years, while the manufacturing sector added about 6,000 jobs from 1999 to 2003. [146] The manufacturing sector is closely tied to nearby cities, utilizing Gyeongju's transit links with Ulsan, Pohang, and Daegu. [21] [23] [147] As in Ulsan and Daegu the automotive parts industry plays an important role. [49] Of the 1,221 businesses incorporated in Gyeongju almost a third are involved in auto-parts manufacture. [148]

    Fishing takes place in coastal towns, especially in Gampo-eup in the city's northeast, with 436 registered fishing craft in the city. [62] Fishing industry in Gyeongju is generally in a declined status due to relatively inconvenient transport conditions and lacks of subordinate facilities. [22] Much of the catch from these boats goes direct from the harbor to Gyeongju's many seafood restaurants. Mainly, sauries, anchovies, rays are harvested and a small number of abalone and wakame farming takes place. Local specialties include myeolchijeot (fermented anchovy), abalone, wakame, and squid. [149]

    Agriculture is still important, particularly in the outlying regions of Gyeongju. According to the 2006 statistical yearbook of Gyeongju, rice fields occupy an area of 169.57 km 2 (65.47 sq mi), which is 70% of the total cultivated acreage of 24,359 km 2 (9,405 sq mi). The remaining 74.02 km 2 (28.58 sq mi) consists of fields under other crops and farmsteads. Crop production is centered in the fertile river basins near the Hyeongsan River. The main crops are rice, barley, beans and corn. Vegetables such as radish and napa cabbage and fruits are also important crops. Apples are mainly produced in the districts of Geoncheon-eup, Gangdong-myeon and Cheonbuk-myeon and Korean pear are cultivated in Geoncheon-eup and Angang-eup. The city plays a leading role in the domestic production of beef and mushrooms. Button mushrooms harvested in Geoncheon-eup are canned and exported. [21] The cultivated acreage and the number of households engaging in agriculture is however declining. [22]

    A small amount of quarrying activity takes place in the city, with 46 active mines and quarries in Gyeongju. Most are engaged in the extraction of kaolin, fluorspar and Agalmatolite [150] and Kaolin is exported. [151]

    As the capital of Silla, commerce and trading in Gyeongju developed early on. Samguk Sagi has records on the establishment of Gyeongdosi (capital area market) in March, 490 during King Soji's reign, and Dongsi (East Market) in 509, during King Jijeung's reign. In the 1830s, Gyeongju had five five-day markets which remained very active until the late 1920s. Due to its size Gyeongju Bunaejang (Gyeongju village market) was referred to as one of the two leading markets in the Yeongnam area, along with Daegu Bunaejang. Transportation developed in the late period of the Japanese occupation, as the Jungang Line and the Daegu Line and the connecting route between Pohang and the northwestern part of Japan were set up, leading to increasing population and developing commerce. After the 1960s, traditional periodic markets gradually transformed into regular markets as the city was flourishing. In periodic markets, agricultural and marine products, industrial products, living necessaries, wild edible greens, herbs, and cattle are mainly traded. As of 2006, Gyeongju had eight regular markets, nine periodic markets and the Gyeongju department store. Traditional periodic markets declined and have become token affairs these days. [21] [22]

    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, [28] which help to attract 6 million visiting tourists including 750,000 foreigners per year. [5] The city government has parlayed its historic status into a basis for other tourism-related developments such as conferences, festivals, and resorts. [152]

    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, [153] the Anapji royal pond garden, [152] and the Gyerim forest. [154] Gyeongju National Museum hosts many important artifacts and national treasures that have been excavated from sites within the city and surrounding areas. [152]

    Much of Gyeongju's heritage 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. [152] [155] 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. [152]

    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. [156] [157] [158] It features athletic events, folk games, music, dance, literary contests and Buddhist religious ceremonies. Other festivals include the Cherry Blossom Marathon in April, [159] the Korean Traditional Liquor and Cake festival in March, [15] and memorial ceremonies for the founders of the Silla Dynasty and General Kim Yu-sin. [132]

    There were 15 hotels including Hilton Hotel, Gyeognju Chosun Hotel, and 276 lodging facilities, and 2,817 restaurants in Gyeongju in 2006. [22]

    Gyeongju's emerging tourist attraction is the Hwangnidan-gil. The address of Hwangnidan-gil is 1080, Poseok-ro, Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province. There are about 80 stores, including restaurants, cafes, bookstores, and gift shops. Hwangnidan-gil became popular through social networking sites, and neighboring Gyeongju's historical site is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The advantage of the Hwangnidan-gil is the result of voluntary efforts by merchants without help from local governments. [160]

    Tourist spots Edit

    Gyeongju has two main local newspapers the Gyeongju Sinmun and the Seorabeol Sinmun. [161] Both are weekly newspapers providing news via online as well and their headquarters are located in the neighborhood of Dongcheon-dong. [162] [163] The Gyeongju Sinmun was founded in 1989 and provides various news and critics on anything concerning Gyeongju. [164] Its online newspaper, Digital Gyeongju Sinmun opened in December, 2000 to provide live local news out of the limit as a weekly newspaper and to establish mutual information exchanges from Gyeongju locals. In 2001, Gyeongju Sinmun started to present Gyeongju Citizen Awards to people who try to develop the local industry and economy, culture and education, and welfare service. Since 2003, the Wolseong Nuclear Power Plant headquarter co-hosts the awards with Gyeongju Sinmun. [165]

    The Seorabeol Sinmun was established in 1993, [166] however, from November 15, 2000 to November 10, 2005, its publication was stopped for financial difficulties after the 1997 Asian economic crisis had left a strong impact on the nationwide economy. [167] Since 2006, Seorabeol Sinmun presents Serabeol Awards to people having devouring to develop Gyeongju. [166] [168]

    Several major feature films have been filmed in the city, including Kick the Moon, [169] On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate, [170] Taegukgi, [171] Chwihwaseon [172] and others. In 2009, the filming of the Queen Seondeok, a popular MBC TV series took place in a studio at Silla Millennium Park located in Bomun Lake Resort. [173] [174]

    Gyeongju is strongly associated with the education tradition of Hwarangdo ("Way of the Flower of Young Men") which was established and flourished during the Silla period. It is a military and philosophical code that offered the basis of training to Hwarang, a military cadet of youths from the aristocratic class. The training equally emphasized practicing academic and martial arts based on Buddhism and patriotism. A number of Silla's greatest generals and military leaders such as Kim Yu-sin were Hwarang who played a central role in Silla unification of the Korean peninsula. As Silla was integrated into the next ruling dynasty, Goryeo, the system declined and was officially disbanded in the Joseon dynasty. However, the spirit and discipline were revived in the second half of the 20th century as a form of Korean martial arts with the same name. [175] [176]

    Formal education has a longer history in Gyeongju than anywhere else in South Korea. The Gukhak, or national academy, was established here in 682, at the beginning of the Unified Silla period. [177] Its curriculum focused on the Confucian classics for local officials. [28] After the fall of Silla in the 10th century, the Gukhak closed. However, due to Gyeongju's role as a provincial center under the Goryeo and early Joseon dynasties, the city was home to state-sponsored provincial schools (hyanggyo) under both dynasties such as Gyeongju Hyanggyo. During the later Joseon dynasty there were several seowon, or private Confucian academies, were set up in the city such as Oksan Seowon and Seoak Seowon. [178]

    The education system of Gyeongju is the same as elsewhere in the country. Schooling begins with preschools there are 65 in the city. This is followed by six years in elementary schools Gyeongju has 46. Subsequently, students pass through three years of middle school. There are 19 middle schools in Gyeongju. High school education, which lasts for three years, is not compulsory, but most students attend and graduate from high school. Gyeongju is home to 21 high schools, [178] of which 11 provide specialized technical training. At each of these levels, there is a mix of public and private institutions. All are overseen by the Gyeongju bureau of North Gyeongsang's Provincial Office of Education. [179] Gyeongju is home to a school for the mentally disabled, which provides education to students from preschool to adult age. [89]

    Gyeongju is home to four institutions of tertiary education. [89] Sorabol College is a technical college in the district of Chunghyo-dong that offers majors specializing in tourism, leisure, health care and cosmetic treatments. [180] [181]

    Each of Gyeongju's three universities reflects the city's unique role. Dongguk and Uiduk universities are Buddhist institutions, [182] [183] reflecting that religion's link to the city. [184] [185] Gyeongju University, formerly Korea Tourism University, is strongly focused on tourism, reflecting its importance in the region. [186]

    Healthcare Edit

    According to the 2008 yearbook of Gyeongju, the total number of medical institutions was 224 with 3,345 beds, including two general hospitals, thirteen hospitals, 109 clinics, five nursing homes, forty two dental hospitals, two Korean traditional medicine hospitals and 50 Korean traditional medicine clinics. [187] There are also twenty eight medical institutions related to Gyeongju Health Center affiliated to the Gyeongju City government. [89]

    The two general hospitals are associated with two major universities in Gyeongju and nearby Daegu. One is the Dongguk University Gyeongju Hospital, located in the district of Seokjang-dong, which is affiliated with Dongguk University Medical School and Center. The Gyeongju Hospital was opened in a seven-story building in 1991 to provide Gyeongju locals with a quality medical service and train medical specialists in the region. [188] After various renovations the hospital currently has 24 departments including a radiation oncology center and 438 beds. [189] It is also assigned as a teaching and learning hospital and in partnership with Dongguk University Oriental Hospital. [190] The other general hospital is a branch of Keimyung University, Dongsan Medical Hospital in Daegu. It is the successor of Gyeongju Christianity Hospital founded in 1962, and was reborn as the current general hospital in 1991. The Gyeongju Dongsan Hospital is located in the district of Seobu-dong and has 12 departments in a three-story building. [191]

    Utilities Edit

    Water supply and sewage disposal are municipal services which are respectively handled by the Water Supply Office and Water Quality and Environment Office. Water comes from the Hyeongsan River, the multi-purpose Deokdong Dam and several streams. The city is divided into seven water districts, with eight filtration plants and seven sewage treatment plants. [192] One of the sewage treatment plants, Angang Sewage Disposal Plant began operating in April 2005 by the co-investment of the Government of North Gyeongsang and Gyeongju City with a fund of 44,300,000,000 won to install facilities to prevent the pollution of the Hyeongsan River, which is a main water source for Gyeongju and Pohang residents. The plant is located on a spacious site with 39,000 m 2 (420,000 sq ft) in Homyeong-ri, Gangdong-myeon in Gyeongju where nature friendly facilities provide recreational venues for the locals. Through 56.1 km (34.9 mi) of sewer pipes and 14 pumping stations, the plant has a capacity of 18,000 tonnes of domestic sewage per day that comes from Angang-eup, and Gangdong-myeon. The facilities have high-powered disposal equipment developed by related industrial companies to maintain the discharged water at the first or second degree in quality, so that it is used as river maintenance flow and agricultural water in case a drought occurs. [193]

    The city had managed its own recycling service, but privatized it since July 1, 2009. [194]

    Other utilities are provided by private entities or South Korean government-owned companies. Seorabeol City Gas, an affiliate of GS Group, provides gas to the Gyeongju residents, [195] while, electrical power is supplied by the public enterprises, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power via the Wolseong Nuclear Power Plant. The plant is known for the only nuclear power plant operating PHWRs (Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor) in South Korea [21] and supplies about 5% of South Korea's electricity. [196] The owner, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power [197] began to build the Wolseong 1 in the districts of Yangnam-myeon, Yangbuk-myeon and Gampo-eup in 1976. Since 1983, the power plant has been providing commercial service [197] and operating with the PHWRs that has a capacity of 678,000 kW. As the construction of each Wolseong 2, 3 and 4 with a capacity of 70,000 kW were completed respectively in 1997, 1998 and 1999, Wolseong Nuclear Power plant site has been successfully operating the four PHWRs plants. [21] New project, Sinwolseong No. 1 and No. 2 are currently under construction which is estimated to be completed until 2011–12. [198] [199] The Wolseong Low and Intermediate Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Center, which treats and stores low and intermediate level radioactive waste from the local power plants, [200] is overseen and inspected by the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety (KINS). [201]

    Transportation Edit

    The city lies at the junction of two minor lines operated by the Korean National Railroad. The Jungang Line runs from Seoul to Gyeongju and carries trains from the Daegu Line, which originates in Dongdaegu. [22] In Gyeongju, the Jungang line connects to the Donghae Nambu Line which runs between Pohang and Busan. [22] The Gyeongbu Expressway, which runs from Seoul to Busan, passes through Gyeongju, [22] and Provincial highway 68, aided by the South Korean government, connects Seocheon in the South Chungcheong province to Gyeongju. [202] Additionally national highways such as Route 4, [203] 7, [204] 14, [205] 20, [206] 28, [207] 31, [208] and 35 [209] crisscross the city. Since the city is a popular tourist destination, nonstop bus services are available from most major cities in South Korea. [210]

    High-speed rail does not serve central Gyeongju, but the KTX Gyeongbu Line stops at the nearby Singyeongju Station, in Geoncheon-eup, west of Gyeongju's city center. [211] [212]

    • Iksan, South Korea (1998)
    • Nara, Japan (1970)
    • Obama, Japan (1977)
    • Pompei, Italy (1985)
    • Versailles, France (1987)
    • Xi'an, China (2007)
    • Huế, Vietnam (2007)
    • Nitra, Slovakia (2014)
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    • Breen, Michael (1999) The Koreans: who they are, what they want, where their future lies Macmillan, 0-312-24211-5
    • Cherry, Judith (2001), Korean multinationals in Europe, Routledge Advances in Korean Studies, Routledge, 0-7007-1480-4 (1997). Korea's place in the sun: A modern history. New York: Norton. 0-393-31681-5
    • Kang, Bong W. (2002). A study of success and failure in the water management of the Buk Chun in Kyongju, Korea. Paper delivered at the Eighteenth Congress of the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage. (Electronic Version).
    • Kang, Jae-eun Lee, Suzanne. (2006) The land of scholars: two thousand years of Korean Confucianism Homa & Sekey Books, 1-931907-37-4
    • Kim, Chang-hyun (August, 2008), The Position and the Administration System of Donggyeong in Koryeo Dynasty, (in Korean) Dongguk University, Silla Culture, issue 32, pp. 1–43
    • Kim, Chong-un Fulton, Bruce, (1998) A ready-made life: early masters of modern Korean fiction, University of Hawaii Press, pp. 107–120, 0-8248-2071-1
    • Kim, Deok-muk, (2003) 전국의 기도터와 굿당 (Jeon-gukui gidoteo wa gutdang. Tr. "Sites of Buddhist prayer and shamanic practice nationwide"), (in Korean), 한국민속기록보존소 89-953630-3-7 . (1982). Kyŏngju: The homeland of Korean culture. Korea Journal 22(9), pp. 25–32. , Department of Korean History (2004) "경주문화권 (Gyeongju Munhwagwon. The Gyeongju cultural area)", Seoul:역사공간 89-90848-02-4
    • Korean Overseas Information Service, (2003), Handbook of Korea (11th ed.), Seoul, Hollym, 1-56591-212-8
    • Lee, Ki-baek Tr. by E.W. Wagner & E.J. Schulz, (1984), A new history of Korea (rev. ed.), Seoul, Ilchogak, 89-337-0204-0
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    • Ring, Trudy Robert M. Salkin, Paul E Schellinger, Sharon La Boda (1996) International Dictionary of Historic Places: Asia and Oceania Taylor & Francis, 1-884964-04-4
    • Robinson, Martin Ray Bartlett, Rob Whyte (2007), Korea Lonely Planet, pp. 197–209, 1-74104-558-4
    • Rutt, Richard Hoare, James. (1999) Korea: a historical and cultural dictionary, Durham East-Asia series. Routledge. 0-7007-0464-7
    • Sundaram, Jomo Kwame. (2003) Manufacturing competitiveness in Asia: how internationally competitive national firms and industries developed in East Asia, Routledge, 0-415-29922-5
    • Tamásy, Christine Taylor, Mike. (2008) Globalising Worlds and New Economic Configurations, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 0-7546-7377-4
    • Yi, Sŭng-hwan Song, Jaeyoon (translation) (2005) A topography of Confucian discourse: politico-philosophical reflections on Confucian discourse since modernity, Homa & Sekey Books, 1-931907-27-7
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    60 ms 3.3% Scribunto_LuaSandboxCallback::match 40 ms 2.2% [others] 420 ms 22.8% Number of Wikibase entities loaded: 1/400 -->

    World Heritage List

    Extension of the "Alhambra and the Generalife, Granada", to include the Albayzin quarter.

    The “Belfries of Flanders and Wallonia” which were previously inscribed on the World Heritage List, are part of the transnational property “The Belfries of Belgium and France”.

    The "Burgess Shale" property, which was previously inscribed on the World Heritage List, is part of the "Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks".

    Extension of "Jaú National Park".

    At the time the property was extended, criteria (iii) and (v) were also found applicable.

    The “Hadrian’s Wall” which was previously inscribed on the World Heritage List, is part of the transnational property “Frontiers of the Roman Empire”.

    Extension of the "Australian East Coast Temperate and Subtropical Rainforest Park".

    name changed 2007 from 'Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves (Australia)'

    Extension of "Gough Island Wildlife Reserve".

    The "Brihadisvara Temple, Tanjavur", which was previously inscribed on the World Heritage List, is part of the "Great Living Chola Temples".

    Extension of the "Mosque of Cordoba".

    The "Convent Ensemble of San Francisco de Lima", which was previously inscribed on the World Heritage List, is part of the "Historic Centre of Lima".

    At the time the property was extended, cultural criterion (iv) was also found applicable.

    Extension of "The Potala Palace and the Jokhang Temple Monastery, Lhasa" to include the Norbulingka area.

    Extension of the "Glacier Bay/Wrangell/St Elias/Kluane" property.

    The Committee decided to extend the existing cultural property, the "Temple of Ggantija", to include the five prehistoric temples situated on the islands of Malta and Gozo and to rename the property as "The Megalithic Temples of Malta".

    Extension of the "Churches of the Kingdom of the Asturias", to include monuments in the city of Oviedo.

    Extension of the "Mudejar Architecture of Teruel".

    In 1979, the Committee decided to inscribe the Ohrid Lake on the World Heritage List under natural criteria (iii). In 1980, this property was extended to include the cultural and historical area, and cultural criteria (i)(iii)(iv) were added.

    (renomination under cultural criteria)

    Extension de « Sites d'art rupestre préhistorique de la vallée de Côa », Portugal

    Following a survey of ownership carried out in the late 1960s, ownership of the totality of the walls was vested in 1973 in the Spanish State, through the Ministry of Education and Science. It was transferred to the Xunta de Galicia by Royal Decree in 1994.

    The Spanish Constitution reserves certain rights in relation to the heritage to the central government. However, these are delegated to the competent agencies in the Autonomous Communities, in this case the Xunta de Galicia. For the Lugo walls the Xunta is in the position of both owner and competent agency. Under the Galician Heritage Law the Xunta is required to cooperate with the municipal authorities in ensuring the protection and conservation of listed monuments, and certain functions are delegated down to them. The Xunta operates through its General Directorate of Cultural Heritage (Dirección General de Patrimonio Cultural), based in Santiago de Compostela.

    The Master Plan for the Conservation and Restoration of the Roman Walls of Lugo (1992) covered proposals for actions to be taken in respect of research and techniques of restoration. This was followed in 1997 by the Special Plan for the Protection and Internal Reform of the Fortified Enceinte of the Town of Lugo, which is concerned principally with the urban environment of the historic town. However, it has a direct impact on the protection afforded to the walls, in terms of traffic planning, the creation of open spaces, and regulation of building heights. Another planning instrument which affects the walls is the Special Plan for the Protection of the Miño [river], approved by the municipality at the beginning of 1998.

    There is at the present time no management plan sensu stricto for the walls in operation in Lugo: work is continuing on the basis of the 1992 plan. Nor is there a technical unit specifically responsible for the conservation and restoration of the walls. It is against this background that serious consideration is being given to the creation of an independent foundation, under royal patronage and with representatives from government, academic, voluntary, and business institutions, to work with the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage of Galicia. The work plan of this body would include the development and implementation of integrated conservation, restoration, and maintenance programmes.

    The WH area is managed directly by the Divisional Forest Officer from the Forest Dept. A national steering Committee co-ordinates institutions for Sinharaja as a National Wilderness Area, Biosphere Reserve (1988), and WH site. There are two management plans, prepared in 1985/86 and 1992/94, which emphasise conservation, scientific research, buffer zone management, benefit-sharing, and community participation.

    The Westland and Mount Cook National Park and the Fiordland National Park, which were previously inscribed on the World Heritage List, are part of the "Te Wahipounamu - South West New Zealand".

    The "Chateau and Estate of Chambord", which was previously inscribed on the World Heritage List, is part of the "Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes".

    Renomination of "Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park" under cultural criteria.

    Extension of "Biertan and its Fortified Church".

    At the time the property was extended, natural criterion (iv) was also found applicable.

    The property “Parque Güell, Palacio Güell and Casa Mila in Barcelona”, previously inscribed on the World Heritage List, is part of the “Works of Antoni Gaudí”.

    # : As for 19 Natural and Mixed Properties inscribed for geological values before 1994, criteria numbering of this property has changed. See Decision 30.COM 8D.1

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    Category of site
    Cultural site Natural site Mixed site

    Site inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
    Cultural site Natural site Mixed site

    Official World Heritage List in other formats

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    A large format full-colour map is available in English, French and Spanish. The dimensions of the map are 78cm by 50cm (31 in. by 20 in.).

    Humans of North Korea: This is freedom

    I got foreign media from my dad. He was a member of the Korean Workers Party and many of his friends were security agents. They confiscated a lot of foreign media and gave it to my dad and he would bring it home.

    Some of my most vivid memories are getting together with my friends at someone’s house, shutting off all the lights, and secretly watching South Korean dramas. It was exhilarating. If you heard anything outside, you’d get startled and think,

    The list below contains an image of the site or part of the site the name as inscribed by UNESCO the location the nominating state party the criteria met by the site, including if it is a cultural, natural or mixed the area in hectares and acres, excluding any buffer zones, with a value of zero implying that no data is published by UNESCO the year the site was inscribed and a description of the site.

    Site Image Location Criteria Area
    ha (acre)
    Year Description
    Beni Hammad Fort Algeria M'sila Province,
    35°48′50″N 04°47′36″E  /  35.81389°N 4.79333°E  / 35.81389 4.79333
    Cultural: AlgDje
    150 (370) 1980 In a mountainous site of extraordinary beauty, the ruins of the first capital of the Hammadid emirs, founded in 1007 and demolished in 1152, provide an authentic picture of a fortified Muslim city. The mosque, whose prayer room has 13 aisles with eight bays, is one of the largest in Algeria.

    . Beni Hammad Fort is near the town of Maadid (aka Maadhid), about 225 kilometres (140 mi) southeast of Algiers.. [2]

    corresponds to ancient Arbela, an important Assyrian political and religious centre dating back to the Assyrian period. [21]

    Ancient Korea

    Korea, located on a large peninsula on the eastern coast of the Asian mainland, has been inhabited since Neolithic times. The first recognisable political state was Gojoseon in the second half of the first millennium BCE. From the 1st century BCE to the 7th century CE in the Three kingdoms period, the peninsula was dominated by the kingdoms of Baekje, Goguryeo and Silla, along with the Gaya confederacy.

    Silla, with significant Chinese aid, would eventually conquer all of the other Korean states and form the Unified Silla Kingdom which ruled until 935 CE. From the 10th century CE, the peninsula was ruled by the Goryeo kingdom until Korea's independence was brought to an end by the Mongol invasions of the 13th century CE.


    Close cultural and political ties were maintained with China, albeit with significant periods of conflict between the two areas. Japan was another trading partner and was also involved in Korean cultural exchange. Ancient Korea has provided many unique contributions to world culture including the invention of movable metal type printing, superb celadon ceramics, the exquisite gold crowns of Silla, the oldest astronomical observatory in Asia, fine gilt-bronze Buddhist figurines, stone pagodas, hanji, the most prized paper in the world, and the ondol underfloor heating system.

    Prehistoric Korea

    The Korean peninsula was inhabited from 10,000 BCE (or even earlier) by people who subsisted on hunting, fishing, and gathering. The earliest known settlements date to c. 6,000 BCE. Megalithic structures from the 2nd millennium BCE still dot the landscape of Korea and number over 200,000. Dolmens were constructed of huge single stones and were likely used as tomb markers. Other types of burials take the form of stone-lined cist graves with precious goods such as amazonite jewellery being buried with the deceased.


    Dwellings of this period are typically subterranean with a roof supported by poles and have a central hearth. Villages tend to be located on hillsides and sometimes enclosed within a wooden perimeter fence. Archaeological finds include jewellery made from stone, bone and shell chipped stone hand-axes stone pestle and mortars stone ploughs, sickles, and hoes and obsidian or slate arrowheads. Early pottery, especially in the form of flat-bottomed brown bowls with incised decoration, shows a cultural link with communities in the Liaoning province and Liaodong peninsula of China. Neolithic pottery and obsidian objects also indicate an early maritime trade with ancient Japan.

    Agriculture was first practised from the second millennium BCE and aided by the introduction of rice cultivation from China by 700 BCE. The Korean Bronze Age covered the same period with the metal culture brought from Manchuria. The presence of fine bronze goods such as swords, bells, and mirrors in certain tombs along the Taedong River indicates a culture with a tribal elite. Other common bronze items include slender daggers, spearheads, belt buckles, and fan-shaped axes. The Korean Iron Age began in the 3rd century BCE as evidenced by tomb finds of that date in Gyeongju. It was in this period that the first state was formed, Gojoseon.

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    Gojoseon, according to Korean mythology as recounted in the 13th-century CE Samguk yusa ('Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms'), was founded in 2333 BCE by Dangun Wanggeom (aka Tangun) who was the offspring of the god Hwanung and a female bear transformed into a woman. Archaeological evidence suggests that the state was formed from the alliance of small fortified towns around the Daedong and Liao River basins perhaps from the 7th century BCE and more certainly from the 4th century BCE. Although mentioned in the c. 100 BCE text Records of the Grand Historian written by the Chinese historian Sima Qian, modern historians continue to debate whether it is possible to describe Gojoseon as a state proper, when exactly did it exist, where was its capital, and what were the exact territories under its control.

    Gojoseon prospered due to agricultural improvements (with iron tools introduced from China) and plentiful natural resources like gold, silver, copper, tin, and zinc. At this time the famous ondol underfloor heating system was invented and the first Korean grey stoneware produced. However, Gojoseon was weakened by attacks from the neighbouring Yan state c. 300 BCE, and a long decline set in. Gojoseon finally collapsed in the 2nd century BCE, and its successor, Wiman Joseon, did not last very long either for in 108 BCE it was conquered by the Han Dynasty of China (206 BCE – 220 CE). The Han were interested in natural resources such as salt and iron and they divided northern Korea into four commanderies directly administered by their central government.


    Gojoseon's territories would later become Goguryeo (Koguryo) while the southern part of Korea at this time, often referred to as the Proto-Three Kingdoms Period, was spilt into the Three Hans of Byeonhan, Mahan, and Jinhan (no connection to the Chinese Han), which became the three states of Baekje (Paekche), Gaya (Kaya), and Silla in the subsequent Three Kingdoms Period. These kingdoms benefitted from the sophisticated culture brought by refugees from the collapsed Gojoseon and defeated Wiman Joseon states.

    Three Kingdoms Period

    The four states of the Three Kingdoms Period (57 BCE – 668 CE) were in constant rivalry and so they formed ever-changing alliances, one with another and with the two dominant regional powers of China and Japan. According to a tradition based on the 12th-century CE Samguk sagi ('Historical Records of the Three States') this happened from the 1st century BCE, but modern historians prefer the 2nd or 3rd century CE (or even later) as a more accurate date when the states could be described as having more centralised governments.


    Goguryeo, with its capital at Pyongyang, particularly prospered in the 5th century CE during the reign of Gwanggaeto the Great (391-413), who lived up to his other title of 'broad expander of domain,' and permitted Goguryeo to dominate northern Korea, most of Manchuria, and a portion of Inner Mongolia. Silla, meanwhile, with its capital at Geumseong (Gyeongju) flourished under the reign of king Beopheung (r. 514-540 CE), achieving a much greater degree of centralisation and prospering on the eastern coast due to agricultural innovations such as oxen-drawn ploughs and irrigation systems. Gaya, squeezed between its more powerful neighbours in the south of the peninsula, never fully developed into a centralised kingdom. Silla captured the Gaya ruling city-state Geumwan Gaya (Bon-Gaya) in 532 CE, and the state collapsed completely a few decades later. Baekje had done well in the late 4th century BCE under king Geunchogo and had formed its capital at Hanseong (modern Gwangju). An alliance with Silla between 433 and 553 CE brought some stability, but in 554 CE at a battle at Gwansanseong Fortress (modern Okcheon) Baekje tried to reclaim territory it had lost to a Silla invasion and their 30,000-strong army was defeated and the Baekje king Seong killed.

    The system of government of the three kingdoms was much as it would remain for the rest of the history of ancient Korea. A monarch ruled with the aid of senior administrative officials drawn from a landed aristocracy. Government appointed officials administered the provinces with the aid of local tribal leaders. The majority of the population were landed peasantry, and the state extracted a tax from them which was usually payable in kind. The state could also oblige citizens to fight in the army or work on government projects such as building fortifications. At the very bottom of the social ladder were slaves (typically prisoners of war or those in serious debt) and criminals, who were forced to work on the estates of the aristocracy. Society was rigidly divided into social ranks, best epitomised by the Silla sacred bone rank system which was based on birth and dictated one's work possibilities, tax obligations, and even the clothes one could wear or the utensils one could use.

    The in-fighting between the Korean states was finally settled by outside intervention from China. Goguryeo had successfully rebuffed three invasions from Sui China in the 7th century CE, and then the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) attempted an invasion in 644 CE, but the great general Yang Manchun once again brought victory to the Koreans. Goguryeo had joined forces with Baekje and successfully invaded Silla territory two years before, but the Tangs were not done with their plans for Korea and they decided on Silla as their temporary ally to defeat the other two remaining Korean states. In 660 CE, a Silla army of 50,000 led by the general Kim Yu-sin and a naval force of 130,000 men sent by the Tang emperor Gaozong proved more than enough to crush Baekje and its king, Uija, was taken to China. Then in 667 CE Pyongyang fell, and the next year the Goguryeo king Bojang was likewise taken prisoner to China along with 200,000 of his subjects. Silla had no intention, though, of becoming a Chinese vassal state and defeated the remaining Tang army in battles at Maesosong (675 CE) and Kibolpo (676 CE). Silla then took control of all of Korea in 668 CE, forming a new state, the Unified Silla Kingdom.


    Unified Silla Kingdom

    The Unified Silla Kingdom (668- 935 CE) was the first dynasty to rule over the whole of the Korean peninsula. There was a state in the north at this time, Balhae (Parhae), but most of its territory was in Manchuria and so the majority of historians do not consider it a Korean state proper.

    The whole state was now divided into nine provinces (three in each of the old three kingdoms) and five secondary capitals. Geumseong continued as the overall capital, then known as Seorabeol, which benefitted from an extensive rebuilding programme, pleasure palaces and temples, and would eventually boast a population of around 900,000. A whole series of administrative regions, prefectures and counties were created right down to village level. To consolidate the kingdom, troublesome peoples and the ruling elites of the former kingdoms were forcibly relocated and village headmen were compelled to send their eldest sons to work in the capital administration or military. The kingdom prospered due to a thriving agricultural industry, which was made more productive via extensive irrigation projects, and trade throughout the East China Sea. The prolonged absence of war also meant that the arts and sciences flourished as never before.

    The state began a slow decline from the 8th century CE, largely due to the rigidity of its class structure, still based on the bone rank system, the strict social classification of entitlements and obligations. Not only did the lack of opportunity to rise above the class of one's birth create a stagnation of ideas and innovations but the aristocracy began, too, to resent the power of the king. At the other end of the social ladder, the peasantry grew more and more resentful of the incessant taxes levied upon them. On top of that, local landed aristocrats became ever more difficult to control from the capital. The state was falling apart from within.

    Two individuals would cause particular trouble for the Silla kings. One Gyeon Hwon, a peasant leader, took advantage of the political unrest in 892 CE and formed a revival of the old Baekje kingdom in the south-west. Meanwhile, an aristocratic-Buddhist monk leader, Gung Ye, declared a new Goguryeo state in the north in 901 CE, known as Later Goguryeo. There then followed another messy power struggle for control of the peninsula just as there had been in the Three Kingdoms Period, indeed this period is often referred to as the Later Three kingdoms Period. Kyon Hwon attacked Geumseong in 927 CE while Gung Ye's unpopular and fanatical tyranny led to his death at the hands of his people. He was succeeded by his first minister, the able Wang Geon, in 918 CE, who attacked Later Baekje, now beset by leadership in-fighting, and then Silla. The last Silla king, Gyeongsun, surrendered in 935 CE and left Wang Geon to unify the country once again but under a new name, the Goryeo Dynasty.


    Goryeo (Koryo) would rule Korea from 918 CE to 1392 CE, and it is the name of this kingdom which is the origin of the English name for the peninsula, Korea. Wang Geon selected the northern city of Songdo (Modern Gaeseong) as his new capital and declared himself king. For his contribution to creating the new state he was given the posthumous title King Taejo or 'Great Founder.' The new state was not without its external threats, and the Khitan (Qidan) tribes to the north attacked Goryeo twice. In 1033 CE they were finally defeated, and a defensive wall was built stretching right across the northern Korea border.

    From then on the kingdom flourished and the capital Songdo boasted over 1,000 shops. For the first time Korea minted its own coinage (996 CE), and the unbyong (aka hwalgu) silver vases were made from 1101 CE which took the shape of the Goryeo empire and were marked as legitimate currency by having the official state seal engraved on them. Movable metal type printing was invented and the older method of woodblock printing refined. The period then saw a boom in Buddhist texts and an interest in documenting the history of the country with the famous Samguk sagi ('History of the Three Kingdoms') written in 1145 CE by Kim Pu-sik.

    Prosperity had its downside and resulted in a steadily increasing decadence among the ruling elite, corruption, and social unrest. Open rebellions broke out in 1126 and 1135 CE which were ultimately quashed, but matters came to a head in the reign of king Uijong who was much criticised for building lavish palaces and water parks. The military, with not much else to do and no status in higher society, staged a coup in 1170 CE. Uijong was replaced by his brother Myeongjong but he only remained as a puppet sovereign. Decades of turbulent in-fighting between all levels of Goryeo society ensued with more coups, assassinations, and slave rebellions. Worse was to come, though. Ghengis Khan, who had unified the Mongol tribes, had swept across China, and his son Ogedei Khan turned his attention to Korea in 1231 CE. Goryeo was forced to move its capital to Ganghwa Island the following year. While the ruling elite was safely ensconced on their island, the rest of the Goryeo population had to face six Mongol invasions over the next three decades. By 1258 CE, the people had had enough and the military ruler was assassinated, the king reinstalled with full powers, and peace made with the Mongols. Korea would not be independent again until the general Yi Seong-gye formed the new state of Joseon in 1392 CE.

    Relations with China & Japan

    Relations between Korea and China go back to mythology when the sage Gija (Jizi to the Chinese) and 5,000 followers left China and settled in Dangun's kingdom. When the latter decided to retreat to meditation on a mountaintop, Gija was made king of Gojoseon in 1122 BCE. This myth may represent the arrival of Iron Age culture to Korea.

    Trade between the two areas went on throughout this period. Iron, gold, silver, copper, ginseng, hemp goods, pine nuts, furniture, paper, and horses were exported to China, and silk, tea, spices, medicine, ceramics, books, and writing materials came in the other direction. Chinese culture was likely brought to Korea by refugees fleeing the 4th-century BCE conflicts of the Warring States Period. Archaeological evidence of this early cultural influence is perhaps best seen in the use of pit burial tombs in the Daedong River area and the frequent presence of horse trappings therein. Later cultural ties are more clearly defined with Korea adopting the Chinese writing system, the kingly title of wang, coinage, literature, and elements of art. Students and scholars frequently went to study in China.

    Similarly, diplomatic and cultural relations with Japan were ongoing from the Bronze age onwards. The Wa (Wae) of Japan had particularly strong ties with the Gaya confederation. The latter was the more advanced culture and exported large quantities of iron, but just how much one state influenced or even controlled the other is still debated by scholars. Baekje culture was exported to Japan, especially via teachers, scholars, and artists, who also spread there Chinese culture such as the classic texts of Confucius. Relations were maintained with southern Japan by the Unified Silla kingdom, especially in the Nara and Heian periods. Goryeo, too, continued trade relations and imported Japanese goods, especially swords and paper folding fans.

    Korean Religion

    The Korean states, traditionally practitioners of shamanism, adopted first Confucianism, then Taoism and Buddhism from China, with Korea making the latter the official state religion from the 4th century CE. Confucian principles were followed in the state administration and were an essential part of entrance exams to positions within that system. Buddhism was the strongest faith, though, and temples and monasteries sprang up everywhere. The Buddhist temple-monasteries, with their landed estates, royal patronage, and exemption from tax, became wealthy and the whole religious apparatus rivalled that of the state itself. Many such monasteries even had their own armed forces recruited from warrior-monks and the general populace. Buddhism was practised not only by the elite families, which often sent a son to study at a monastery and become a monk, but also by the lower classes.

    Korean Art

    High-fired grey stoneware was produced in great quantities from the Three Kingdoms Period. Ceramics were decorated with incisions, applying additional clay pieces, and cutting away the clay to create a latticework effect. The most famous Korean ceramics from any period, though, are the pale green celadons produced in the Goryeo kingdom. Also known as greenware, these have a smooth glaze and typically have fine inlaid designs (sanggam), especially Buddhist motifs such as the lotus flower, cranes, and clouds. Celadons were first introduced into Korea from China during the 9th century CE, but Korean potters became so skilled at their manufacture that their wares were exported back to China and, even today, Korean celadons are amongst the most prized ceramics in the world.

    Tomb-painting is best seen in the tombs of Goguryeo. Over 80 of them have chambers decorated with brightly painted scenes of everyday life, portraits of the occupants, and mythical creatures. The paintings were made by applying the paint either directly onto the stone wall or onto a lime plaster base.

    Buddhist art was popular throughout the peninsula, and gilt-bronze was used to produce expressive statuettes of Buddha, Maitreya (the coming Buddha), and bodhisattvas. Monumental figures were carved from boulders and into rock faces too. Gilt bronze was also used to manufacture ornate incense burners, relic boxes, and crowns. The most famous Korean crowns are those of the Silla kingdom made in sheet-gold. These have trees and stag-like branches which represent a link with shamanism. Jewellery of all kinds was made using goldwork techniques such as wiring, punching, cutting, and granulation. Jade, often carved into crescent moon shapes, was a popular form of embellishment for these glittering adornments. Another skill of Korean metalworkers from the Unified Silla kingdom onwards was the casting of large bronze bells (pomjong) which were used in Buddhist temples to announce services.

    Korean Architecture

    The best surviving remains of Korean architecture from the period prior to recorded history are megalithic structures, fortification walls, and stone-lined tombs. Outstanding examples of ancient Korean dolmens are the table-type structures on Ganghwa Island which date to c. 1000 BCE in the Korean Bronze Age. Single standing stones (menhirs), unrelated to a burial context and perhaps used as marker stones, are also found across Korea.

    Unfortunately, there are few surviving public buildings from ancient Korea prior to the 16th century CE. The architecture of ancient Korea is, then, best seen in tomb paintings and those structures which do still stand such as the stone pagoda of the Baekje Mireuksa temple at Iksan which has six of its original 7-9 storeys. Stone pagodas are Korea's unique contribution to Buddhist architecture with two other fine examples being the Dabotap and Seokgatap pagodas at the 8th century CE Bulguksa temple near Gyeongju.

    Large mound tombs are typical of the Three Kingdoms Period. These are earth-covered mounds with interior stone-lined or brick interior chambers for the deceased, usually with a horizontal entrance passage (except Silla tombs which have no access point). One of the largest such tombs is at the once Goguryeo capital Gungnae (modern Tonggou) and thought to be that of King Gwanggaeto the Great (r. 391–412 CE). It is 75 metres long and using blocks measuring 3 x 5 metres.

    One of the outstanding stone structures from the Unified Silla Period is the Buddhist Seokguram Grotto temple east of Gyeongju. Constructed between 751 and 774 CE, it contains a circular domed inner chamber within which is a massive seated Buddha. Another interesting Silla structure is the mid-7th century CE Cheomseongdae observatory. 9 metres tall, it acted like a sundial but also has a south-facing window which captures the sun's rays on the interior floor on each equinox. It is the oldest surviving observatory in East Asia.

    A good idea of the Korean architectural style for larger houses and palaces is seen in the 13th-century CE Goryeo Hall of Eternal Life (Muryangsujeon) at the Pusok temple in Yongju. It is one of the oldest wooden structures surviving in the whole of Korea. Roofs of Korean buildings, as seen in the Hall of Eternal Life, are typically high-pitched to allow easy drainage of rainwater and strong enough to resist the weight of snow in winter. They are also high to permit air-flow in the warmer months. Ancient roofs were made of wooden beams and then tiled (giwa) over a layer of earth to provide extra insulation. The roofs are concave for aesthetic purposes, and the eaves also gently curve upwards (cheoma). This curvature permits extra sunlight in winter to enter the building and at the same time provide a little extra shade in summer.

    Interior walls of traditional Korean buildings (hanok) were made of wood and paper, often functioning as sliding doors (changhoji). The floors of rooms could be either in wood and slightly elevated (the maru system) to keep the room cool in hot months or used the ondol system of underfloor heating necessary for winter months. This latter type, made of stone with a waxed paper covering, has a system of flues through which hot air flows from the main hearth of the house. External doors and windows were made using interlocking grids of wood (changsal), often carved into highly decorative latticework (kkotsal). The home was divided into purpose-specific areas and typically enclosed a courtyard or garden area.

    Finally, the immediate topography of buildings was an important consideration so that architects endeavoured to harmoniously blend their designs into the natural environment (pungsu) and take advantage of scenic views (andae). The best possible place was a site which was backed by mountains to block the wind and opened onto a wide plain with a river running through it to provide the home with positive energy or gi.

    This content was made possible with generous support from the British Korean Society.


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    Site named after the World Heritage Committee's official designation [6] Location at city, regional, or provincial level and geocoordinates Criteria as defined by the World Heritage Committee [5] Area in hectares and acres. If available, the size of the buffer zone has been noted as well. A value of zero implies that no data has been published by UNESCO Year during which the site was inscribed to the World Heritage List Description brief information about the site, including reasons for qualifying as an endangered site, if applicable

    Performance of East Asia in UNESCO Edit

    The performance of Southeast Asia is contrasted by the performance of South and East Asia. Eastern Asian countries are noted with 'EA'.

    Gender Roles and Statuses

    Division of Labor by Gender. In North Korea it is widely accepted that men run the heavy industry and women work in light industry. Beyond this, the division is highly diverse. For example, agriculture is not necessarily regarded specifically as a man's or

    The Relative Status of Women and Men. Women's status is not equal to that of men. Men have a far better chance in advancing in politics, while women, particularly after marriage, are seen as "done" with a political career. This is different for women from the high-ranking families, whose background and connections would outmaneuver handicaps that ordinary woman would have to bear. In North Korea, women are supposed to have certain mannerisms that are regarded as feminine. They are not supposed to wear trousers unless they are factory workers or agricultural laborers.

    In professional settings, however, women are often as assertive as their male counterparts. The only occupation where behavior is sometimes flirtatious or subservient is as a waitress, but for women it is an honor to hold this position as they are selected for their beauty, good family background, and educational qualifications.

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