The Story of Hong Gildong

The Story of Hong Gildong is an old Korean folktale which I’m not familiar with. Although I’ve heard the title before, I’ve never heard a Korean tell me the story or recommend it as any part of Korean literature. I would surmise that most Koreans know the story as a children’s book or as a comic book edition.

However, the story has recently been released under the Penguins Classic banner. That has my attention, because we shall now find it amongst the classic editions of Charles Dickens and Jane Austin. Of all the “Great Books“, which is a foundation of Western cultural literature, The Story of Hong Gildong is now included.

I look forward to seeing it at Kyobo Bookstore and getting my first glimpse of it. I hope that the story is worthy of its Penguin release, and that there might be more Korean literature down the road.

Hwaseong Cherry Blossoms

IMG_0559.JPG img_0517.jpg While there are highly marketed and tourist-centric locations around Korea to see the cherry blossoms during the blooming season, the Hwaseong Fortress is a low-key  place to visit in the morning or afternoon hours. This year in 2016, the yellow forsythias are projected to bloom at the end of March and the cherry blossoms follow in the first 2 weeks of April.

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Yongjoo Temple is recognized as the temple of “filial piety”. This characteristic dates back to the days of King Jeongjo. Suwon city, also, pays much homage to him. In 1790, he re-constructed Yongjoosa in honor of his late father, Prince Sado. The tale explains that the name “yong joo” (Dragon Jewel) came to King Jeongjo in a dream before a memorial ceremony to his father. Many Korean children visit the temple with their parents and they are taught about paying proper respect to their parents and ancestors. It is also a temple where guests may experience the Korean Templestay Program.

Departing the bus from Byeongjeom Station (병점역) to Yongjoosa, you’ll be presented with two directions. On the left hand side of the street, you’ll find a parking lot and large building. This is the area to sign-up and participate in the Templestay Program, where guests can experience the monastic temple culture. On the right- hand side is Yongjoosa.

The first building is the Cheonwangmun (사천왕문), or the Gate of the Four Heavenly Kings. These are some of my favorite examples of the Four Kings. All of them have wide bulbous faces and a menacing presence. Although set behind by a fence, they are about 4 feet away, magnificently detailed and easy to photograph.

사천왕문 Gate of the Four Heavenly Kings

사천왕문 Gate of the Four Heavenly Kings

Develop and Prosper

Develop and Prosper

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Drew Kelly in NK

Drew Kelly was a marketing director in North Korea. He has everyday photos of Pyongyang in his 2015 North Korea timeline.

2015 Hwaseong Cultural Festival

From October  8th to the 11th, the 52nd Suwon Hwaseong Cultural Festival schedule will be held. The major events will be the parade and any martial arts performance. Friday will also be a national holiday, Hangul Day, expect a large turn-out of people.

  • Opening Ceremony Fireworks, Thursday 7:30 – 9PM. This is located at the Yeonmudae, the concert stage area. It is located at the main tourist center near the archery field.
  • Jeongjo’s Royal Parade, Friday 2 – 5PM. This is will probably be the best parade for photography. Watch near Jangan Gate or Paldal Gate for the most scenic experience
  • Martial Arts Performance, Saturday 8 – 9:30PM, This is located near the main tourist center near the archery field.

Visit the main website for all the events, times, and place.