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.


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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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.

Notebooks on Cities and Culture Korea’s Tour

I must admit that conversations with foreigners – specifically English teachers – living in Korea can be a bit redundant. Everyone comes from their own background and culture, but when they come to Korea, their lives tend to converge down the same line of work and lifestyle. Common Korean stereotypes and tropes get thrown around over and over again, as foreigners aren’t integrated into Korean society well.

Therefore, it’s refreshing to hear perspectives from Koreans or from people in specific areas of influence. This is where the podcast Notebooks on Cities and Culture’s Korea Tour fills that vacancy.

The idea of NCCKT began as a Kickstarter project by Colin Marshall, who is an essayist, podcaster, and public speaker. Korea’s recent expansion of music, food and media have made the country more prominently known in the eye of pop culture. However, Colin’s cultural interests, touching on literature and film, run deeper than the more prominent K-pop and hallyu wave.

Having only recently discovered NCCKT towards the end of it’s cycle, I’ve been able to go back and binge listen. Most of the interviews are conducted with expatriates to Korea, so the podcast is still missing much of the deep insight from a Korean perspective. (Though, I will admit that it’s probably rare to find those well integrated Koreans who also have a proficiency of English language.) The expatriate interviews include many professors and niche area specialists.

The podcast has been a refreshing breath of Korean culture. The nuggets and insight should stay relevant for many years. I recommend it to anyone to step away from the echo chamber.

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