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NestKorea 2020 Historical trip to Seosan

Seosan is a city in South Chungcheong Province, South Korea, with a population of roughly 175,000 according to the 2017 census. Located at the northwestern end of South Chungcheong Province, it is bounded by Dangjin City, Naepo New Town, Yesan-gun and Hongseong-gun on the east and by Taean-gun and the Yellow Sea on the west, and 125 km (78 mi) south of Seoul, 159 km (99 mi) northwest of Daejeon and 34 km (21 mi) northwest of Naepo New Town. Seosan is the hub of transportation of west coast where Seohaean Expressway, Daejeon-Dangjin Expressway, National Highways No. 29, 32, 38 and 45 intersect meet, this city has great traffic conditions towards the metropolitan area and major cities.

Although Seosan itself is a fairly quiet and touristically unimportant city, there are a number of minor attractions in the rural areas outside of Seosan, most of which can be accessed within twenty minutes by car, or in an hour by bicycle. Many of these historic sites are well-known only among the locals and often have few visitors, which can make them appealing to those wishing to escape the crowded palaces and temples of Korea's major cities. For an exhaustive list of tourist attractions in the Seosan-Haemi area, detailed English-language maps are available at the Seosan Intercity Bus Terminal.

 

Attractions in Seosan city;

  • Haemieupseong Fortress (해미읍성)

  • Yeosutgol Holy Ground (해미순교성지)

  • Yeonghyeon-ri Rock-carved Buddha Triad (용현리 마애여래삼존상)

  • Bowonsa (보원사지)

  • Gaesimsa (개심사)

The Rock-carved triad buddha in Seosan (Korean: 서산 용현리 마애여래삼존상)

is located at Gayasan, Unsan-myeon, Seosan, Chungcheongnam-do. The Standing Buddha Reborn was sculptured in the center which is 208-centimeter-high, with a standing image of a bodhisattva on his right side and an image of the Bangasayusang on his left side. It is also known as "the smile of the Baekje", and it is considered to be a notable example of Buddhist images carved on rock cliffs and which were made by digging into the natural rocks and sculpting the statue.

 

The Standing Buddha Reborn has a fleshy face, eyes "like an apricot pit," a shallow, large nose and a smiling mouth. It displays the merciful impression which is a feature of statues of Baekje kingdom. Because his robe is thick, it doesn’t show his silhouette and has folds of repeated U-patterns. At the back of the head the round halo-like nimbus has lotus flowers inscribed in its center and flame patterns at the border. On the left of the carving, the standing bodhisattva is wearing a crown. He has a chubby face like the image of the principal Buddha and seems to be smiling with his entire face. His upper body is decorated with a necklace and his lower body is covered with a skirt that extends to his ankles.

 

On the right side, the sitting bodhisattva also smiles with his entire face, which is round and fleshy. Both of his arms were seriously damaged, but it still displays sophisticated carving skills in his left hand grasping his right ankle and his jaw resting in his right hand. It is believed that the carving is an expression of the principal Buddha and Maitreya bodhisattva introduced in the "Lotus Sutra". It is estimated to have been created between the late 6th and the early 7th centuries, due to the commonness in that period of heavy, dignified physiques and the round, clear cuts exhibited in the principal Buddha statue, and the refined sense of molding in the bodhisattva statue, as well as the liveliness of the image

Gaesimsa Temple is one of the four major temples in the Chungnam,province located in Sinchang-ri, Unsan-myeon. It was founded by National Preceptor Hyegam in 654, the 14th year of King Uije of Baekje, and reconstructed by Master Cheorung in 1350, the second year of King Chungjeong of Goryeo. Only the foundation of Daeungjeon Hall was built during the Baekje Period, and the building was destroyed by a forest fire in the 6th year of King Seongjong's reign (1475) of the Joseon Dynasty, and was rebuilt in the 15th year of King Seongjong's reign (1484).

Daeungjeon Hall, Treasure No. 143, forms the height of architectural art due to its beautiful composition, which is a compromise between Dapo and Jusimpo style, which was built in the 15th year of King Seongjong's reign (1484). The dense forests, odd rocks, and cherry blossoms that bloom around the temple around Buddha's Birthday make the surrounding scenery more beautiful, and the temple's surroundings are filled with cherry blossoms, making it feel as if it is in a state of mind.

The Tomb of King Muryeong, also known as Songsan-ri Tomb No. 7 (공주 송산리 7호분), is the ancient tumulus of King Muryeong, who ruled the Baekje from 501 to 523, and his queen. The rarity of intact Baekje tombs makes this one of the major archaeological discoveries in Korea and a crucial source for the understanding of Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea.

The tomb is located in what is now Gongju, South Chungcheong Province, South Korea. It is Korean Historic Site No. 13. King Muryeong's Tomb is also registered on the South Korean government's tentative list of World Heritage Sites.

The tomb was accidentally discovered during water drainage work on the No.5 and 6 tombs in 1971. It had been untouched by grave robbers and thieves for over a millennium, and when it was excavated it was the first time the tomb had been opened since the bodies of the king and queen were interred there fifteen hundred years earlier.

The exterior of the tomb looks like an earthen mound, 20 meters in diameter and 7.7 meters (66 ft × 25 ft) in height. It is believed that the mound was originally larger. Notably, the tomb employed a drainage system. The tomb is based on the southern Chinese prototypes but also incorporates Baekje elements to create a Korean-style tomb. Solely Korean elements of the tomb include the arched shape of the chamber and the brick colour pattern. The style of King Muryeong's tumulus is found only in the Gongju area. While Chinese custom placed tombs in the north, this tomb was placed in the south. However, the king was placed in the east part of the tomb while the queen was placed in west which follows Chinese practice.

Located in Gongju-si, Gongsanseong Fortress is a mountain castle which was established during the Baekje Period (234-678). The castle is about 2.5km long, and there are two ways of touring the castle. One way is to start from the parking lot, pass the west gate, Geumseoru, and walk along the cement road. The other way is to turn left at the beginning of the cement road and walk along the top of the castle, which is called Sanseong Road. The cement road is very smooth and you can walk along it comfortably. On the other hand, Sanseong Road has many twists and the passage is narrow, but it has the advantage of following along the Geumgang riverside.


When you begin the tour, the first site that you will meet is the Gongbukru, in front of the Sanseong village. From Gongbukru, follow the Sanseong Road, go over a low hill, and you will see Yeongeunsa, a small temple built in the 4th year of King Se-Jo’s reign. In front of the temple is Manharu and Yeonji, most elegant place of the fortress. Visitors can enjoy a breathtaking view of Geumgang riverside from there. Follow the trail path a little further up and Imryugak Pavilion appears, known as the largest of its kind within the fortress. You can get a glimpse of Geumgang River, but the trees may obstruct the open view of the scenery.
It is worth the visit for its historical and cultural significance, and also for the beautiful view of Geumgang riverside and the trail. The whole course is approx. 3 km, taking approx. 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Gwanbuk-ri Relics and Busosanseong Fortress is a mud fortress located on top of Busosan Mountain (alt. 106m) in the northern part of Buyeo. The fortress is estimated by some to have been built around 538 AD (16th year of King Seongwang) to protect Sabi (now Buyeo), which was once the capital of the Baekje Kingdom. Other historians, however, believe that the fortress was already in place by 500 AD (22nd year of King Dongseongwang) and modified in 605 (6th year of King Muwang) into the structure we see today. In either case, some parts of the fortress were reconstructed during the Unified Silla Kingdom period (676-935 AD) and modified again in the Goryeo (918-1392) and Joseon (1392-1910) eras.

 

Busosan Mountain was once considered the guardian mountain of Buyeo and is home to historic landmarks from the Baekje Kingdom (18 BC-660 AD). In addition to Busosanseong Fortress, some of the most famous sites on the mountain include Baekhwajeong Pavilion, Sajaru Pavilion, Banwollu Pavilion, Yeongillu Pavilion, Samchungsa Shrine (dedicated to three loyal subjects of the Baekje Kingdom), Gungnyeosa Shrine, Goransa Temple, Gunchangji (military warehouse site), and Suhyeoljugeoji (site of pit houses for the Baekje soldiers). The mountain is also home to Nakhwaam Rock where, according to legend, 3,000 women of the Baekje Kingdom threw themselves into the river below after the collapse of the empire.

Goransa Temple is located at the foot of the cliffs of Nakhwaam before the Baengmagang River. There is a well called Goranjeong behind the temple. The kings of Baekje are said to have drank water from this well at least once a day. It is said the water will make anyone who drinks it become three years younger.

The Goransa Ferry is the best way to understand the history of the Baekje dynasty while enjoying the still waters of Baengmagang River. The ferry passes various historical sites within Busosanseong Fortress, including Cheonjangdae Cliff, Nakhwaam Rock, Joryongdae Cliff, and Jaondae Cliff. Of these sites, Nakhwaam Rock (Falling Flower Rock) is perhaps the most famous, being known as the location where many Baekje women jumped from the cliff rather than be taken captive when the dynasty fell to invading forces. Another key site is Goransa Temple, home to a fountain of natural spring water that was said to prevent aging.

Gungnamji Pond is located in Seodong Park, and is Korea’s first artificial pond that was created by King Mu (from the Baekje Dynasty) who was in love with and eventually married Princess Seonhwa. ‘Gungnamji’ (literally means ‘a pond in the south of the royal palace’ in Korean) was named according to the Samguksagi record.

 

According to a record in the Samguksagi, the History of the Three Kingdoms, King Mu dug this lake south of his palace in the 35th year of his reign (634) and connected it by a 7800-meter long waterway to the water source. The king then had willow trees planted around the bank and had an artificial mound constructed in the middle of the lake.

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