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Feel, Learn and Love the City of Gyeongju

Park, Hae-soo, Reporter 기자2011.11.23 02:22:39

Have you ever been to the city of Gyeongju? Maybe you have been there at least one time or at least heard of that city. Gyeongju is famous for its many cultural assets because it was the capital city of Silla for 1,000 years. There are many historical sites to visit where you can feel and learn about Korean history and culture. In this article, The KNU Times is going to introduce you to Gyo-dong village. Compared to other historical sites in Gyeongju, this village is not that famous. Right after reading this article, you might want to visit this place. So let’s get it started.



At the end of the summer vacation, I decided to go traveling with my friends before the second semester began and we decided to visit Gyeongju, which is close to Daegu. This time, we wanted to see something new rather than the well-known historical sites. Gyo-dong village was the perfect place to visit. After deciding to visit there, we took the express bus to Gyeongju. It only took one hour from Daegu. Arriving there, we rented bicycles on order to get around faster. Although you can take a taxi or bus to go anywhere in Gyeongju, I recommend you to ride a bicycle since it helps you not to miss anything while traveling to new places. It took about 15 minutes to get to Gyo-dong village from the bus terminal by bicycle. When we arrived there, there were quite a lot of people already. After we locked up our bicycles beside the parking lot, we began our tour. The size of the village was not as big as I had expected, but cozy to live in. The first house that we entered was the Choi Family’s Old House. It is said that this house has served as the head house of the Gyeongju Choi clan and was built around 1,700. It was composed of a sarangchae (men’s living quarters), an anche (women’s living quarters), a munganche (servants’ living quarters), a sadang (shrine) and a gobang (storage quarters) being well-situated on the grounds full of sunshine alongside the Namcheon river and backed by the Wolseong Palace. Actually, the buildings are said to have had 99kan (the largest space granted to king’s subjects during the Joseon Dynasty), but most of them were burnt in 1970, and now all that remains are post stones. It was kind of sad that we could only see only the remains. I got a brochure from the information desk and it said that the Choi family settled in Gyo-dong village during the middle of the Joseon dynasty. They have kept enormous wealth through 12 generations, practicing noblesse oblige and cultivating scholars over nine generations. I thought that this is what we should call a ‘reputable family’. The house of the Choi family was pretty neat, well designed and the atmosphere of the house was graceful and wonderful. The family was also selling the Gyo-dong Beopju (a kind of rice-wine) inside the house. As a one who really loves to drink, I could not just pass it on the way. There were various kinds of things to choose. They were pretty expensive to buy but I had to open my wallet. They are also good as gifts. While viewing the house in every nook and corner, I could find two wooden signs.



The first one was inscribed with the Choi family’s six guidelines to manage a household.

1. Apply for Kwageo, but do not take the official rank higher than Jinsa.

2. Return to the society any possessions over ten thousand seok.

3. Do not expand the land at the time of famine.

4. Receive guests warmly with hospitality.

5. Make sure not to let anyone starve to death within 100 ri of you.

6. Have a newly wedded daughter-in-law wear cotton clothes for three years.



And the second one was about six principles to protect oneself.

1. Make as if one is aloof.

2. Make as if one loves to meet others.

3. Make as if one has a clean heart with no trouble.

4. Make as if one is brave to cope with a task.

5. Make as if one is indifferent even toward a success.

6. Make as if one is calm even toward a failure.



It was really touching and I could understand why the Choi families have been respected by many people and even nowadays. After hanging around the Gyo-dong village, we were very hungry. Fortunately, there was a restaurant in the village. Their main menu was gim-bap (seaweed rice). Even though it was quite small and a little bit shabby, there were many people lined up to order food. When I tried it, my mouth was watering because of its fantastic taste. It was really yummy. I could understand why there were so many people lining up to eat that. If you are planning to visit this village, you should try this. It is different from other ordinary gim-bap. I strongly recommend you to try it.



After eating, we went to the Gyeongju Hyanggyo which was located next to the Choi family’s house. Compared to the Choi family’s house, there were only few tourists. It was really quiet and peaceful. It is a state-run public educational institution for educating local people about Confucianism as a place of higher learning, and it also functioned as a Confucian shrine in ancient times. We cannot know the exact time when it was established, but it is said that King Seongjong built it to educate people in 1492. Walking around this place, I felt like I was one of the students studying in this place at that time. After learning about our ancestor’s life, it was already time to go home. My friends and I hurried to go back to the bus terminal. I wished I could spend more time looking around the Gyo-dong village. I have promised myself to visit there again. As you can see, there are many places to visit in the city of Gyeongju. Once you visit there you might love it a lot. If you are tired of modern city life, I would strongly recommend you to visit this wonderful place. You can feel and learn about our ancestor’s life and what the true noblesse oblige is. Gyo-dong village is the right place to do those things.



After traveling



Whenever we go traveling, we can meet new people and learn about culture and many things. There are many advantages we can get from traveling. After visiting Gyo-dong village and Gyeongju Hyanggyo, I could learn and realize what our ancestor’s life was like. I thought that modern people should at least think about what true noblesse oblige is. I am sure that most of our KNU students are busy studying their majors and developing themselves for a better future. That means that they might not have enough time to relax. So why don’t you pack your bag and visit Gyo-dong village and take a look at what our wise ancestor’s life was like?



Another place to visit in Gyeongju



Yangdong Village



Yangdong Folk Village (Yangdong Village of Gyeongju) is a traditional village from the Joseon Dynasty. It is located in Gangdong-myeon, 16 kilometers northeast of Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do along the Hyeongsan River. Mt. Seolchang stands to the north of the village. The village is designated as Important Folklore Materials No. 189 by the South Korean government. It is also a good example of the yangban (Korean aristocracy) lifestyle and Neo-Confucian traditions. And it is one of the biggest folk villages remaining now in Korea. Compared with Gyo-dong village, it is a little bit far away from Daegu, but it might be worth visiting there at least once. The reason why I recommend you to go and visit there is that the village was listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO with Hahoe Folk Village in 2010. You might enjoy visiting those places.

[No.342]
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