JIRI-SAN and NAMWON: A Journey into Korea's Scenic South Jeolla Province
Join this exciting excursion to visit this geographically amazing area of Korea's scenic south, the fascinating traditional-culture city of Namwon, and the best sights of the highly sacred “Exquisite Wisdom Mountain” that looms above it.
We will depart Yongsan Post Office at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, and by about 12:00, our bus will arrive at the romantic city of Namwon. It is called "romantic" because it is the setting for the Story of Chunhyang, the most famous Korean folk-opera. The story begins with the handsome son of an aristocrat who falls in love with Chunhyang (Spring Fragrance), the daughter of a gisaeng (entertainer). After they are secretly married despite the social-class difference, the boy’s family is transferred away to Seoul. Enter the dastardly governor, who wants to make our heroine his own; she refuses, is imprisoned and tortured. Meanwhile back at the national capital, her man is made a Royal Inspector and hears of the way his lady is being treated… and then he… well, we’ll tell you how the tale ends at the very site where it happened! At the shrine-park built for Chunhyang, we will see the Gwanghal ru, an entertainment pavilion where visiting magistrates were hosted and also the site of the dramatic climax. There is also the Ojak kyo (the Magpie Bridge) where the two lovers met. Also of interest is the Chunhyang gak, where a lovely painting of Chunhyang was enshrined, to "evoke in modern Korean womanhood the virtues of loyalty exemplified by Chunhyang."
Leaving Namwon, our bus will pass through the spectacular Jiri-san Pass, which commands fantastic views of this beautiful mountainous area, and reaches to 1100m above sea level. Those who wish to hike up to sacred “Grandma Altar Peak” can do-so. After a few hours spent absorbing the vibrant colors and fresh air of that Alpine area, we will make a quick visit to Cheonun-sa (Hidden Stream Temple) down the other side. Originally constructed in 828, many of the buildings date to 1774. At the entrance to the temple is one of the most photographed structures in Korea, the charming arched covered bridge crossing the lovely cascading stream.
From here, we'll take a fifteen-minute bus ride into the southwestern Jiri-san National Park to visit one of Korea's most historic and beautiful Buddhist monasteries, Hwaeom-sa. Located in a valley cut deep into Jiri san above the town of Gurye, this temple contains more great treasures than any other in the nation save Bulguk-sa. It derives its name from the famous Flower-Garland (Avatamsaka) Sutra, the sect of which was introduced into Korea from China by Master Uisang. It is said that the Indian missionary Yeon-gi established the site in 544 CE, but the major expansion work was carried out by Uisang in 634. Hwaeom sa is situated high in a boat shaped valley which points towards the rivers, indicating good geomantic values. It is a virtual museum of monuments and architecture with three National and various other unofficial treasures. The most notable amongst these is the three storied lion-pillar pagoda carved by the Priest Yeon-gi to honor his mother. An interesting feature of the pagoda is the faces of the four lions, which display the cardinal emotions of joy, anger, love and sorrow. Below the lion pagoda is the most dominant structure on the grounds, the two storied Gakhwang jon Hall, which is National Treasure #12. At sunset, the monks gather for a peaceful and hauntingly beautiful evening ceremony, accompanied by soft chanting and the beat of the drum in the courtyard.
On Sunday after breakfast, we will take a 30 min. bus ride to visit beautiful Choe Champan's Residence located near Seongin-bong (Saint Peak), a southern ridgeline stretching from Jiri-san. Choe’s Residence, famous for the setting place of the great historical novel Toji (written by Park Gyeung-ri), is auspicious place near the river. Choe’s residence is beautifully settled in the area. You can walk through meandering and winding road to traditional houses which are surrounded by ivy and stone walls. You can also stop by the small museum in the village.
After our lunch, we will continue our sampling of local temples with a visit to Ssanggye-sa (Twin Streams Temple). Nestled in a valley of southern Jiri-san at the end of a beautiful 4-km drive lined with cherry trees, the temple was originally built in 722 by two monks who returned from China with the skull of the Sixth Patriarch of Zen. They were instructed in a dream by the Mountain-spirit to build their temple in a valley where the arrowroot grew even in the snows of winter. Such a place is the valley of Ssanggye-sa, where tea also grows even today. It was first planted here in 828 by national Zen master Jingam Seonsa, who was the developer of Korean musical-chanting, and this temple contains the hall where the first Korean Buddhist music was played. After our visit, we will depart on our return trip to Seoul.
This tour will be led by David A. Mason, a well-known expert on Korea’s Buddhism and folk-religion traditions, recently retired as Professor of Korean Cultural Tourism. He will thoroughly explain the history of these sites and significance their shrines, artworks and monuments.
We will leave on Saturday at 8:00 a.m., and we plan to return on Sunday at 8:00 p.m. The excursion cost is W199,000 for members and W229,000 for non-members, which includes transportation, accommodation and three meals (Saturday dinners - Sunday breakfasts and lunch). All beverages are at your own expense. For Saturday's drive down, you may pack a bag lunch or purchase food at a rest stop on the way.
Reservations confirmation deadline: Monday, October 29, 2012
PLEASE RESERVE SPACE ON THE JIRI-SAN & NAMWON, SATURDAY-SUNDAY, November 3rd-4th, 2012, FOR THE FOLLOWING:
NAME_______________________________ MEMBER________ NONMEMBER_________
NAME_______________________________ MEMBER________ NON-MEMBER_________
PHONE NO. (MOBILE) ____________________ (OFFICE / HOME) ____________________
☞ Please make a excursion payment before Monday, October 29, 2012
to the following account:
Shinhan Bank Account # 100-026-383501 (RAS-KB)