Korea, China, Japan choose each country’s city annually to promote trilateral cultural exchange
A breath-taking view of Gyeongju, the capital of ancient Korea. (Photo: MCST)
Gyeongju, the capital of ancient Korea, has been selected as the South Korean city to represent Culture City of East Asia 2021, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said Dec. 23.
South Korea, China and Japan launched the Culture City of East Asia project in 2014 to promote trilateral cultural exchanges and widen understanding of each country’s culture and traditions following an agreement reached by their culture ministers in Shanghai in 2012. Under the program, three representative cities are selected annually to showcase each country’s culture and traditions and hold cultural exchange programs throughout the year.
Seoul’s culture ministry said its screening committee has chosen Gyeongju as the Culture City of East Asia 2021, following Gwangju for 2014, Cheongju for 2015, Jeju Island for 2016, Daegu for 2017, Busan for 2018, Incheon for 2019 and Suncheon for 2020.
The two other East Asia culture cities for 2021 will be officially announced during the 12th meeting of the three countries' culture ministers, set to be held in Kitakyushu, Japan, next year.
Gyeongju, 370 kilometers southeast of Seoul, was the capital of the ancient Korean kingdom of Silla (57 B.C.-A.D. 935), which ruled about two-thirds of the Korean Peninsula between the 7th and 9th centuries.
A vast number of archaeological sites and cultural properties from this period remain in the North Gyeongsang Province city.
“Gyeongju is an attractive cultural and tourist city with world-class cultural assets. Exchanges with other East Asia culture cities in China and Japan will help promote Gyeongju more widely. The government will actively support its cultural and art exchange events,” said a ministry official.
Gyeongju’s municipal government said it will push for various exchange programs with other East Asia culture cities, particularly in connection with its existing programs, such as Gyeongju Culture Expo.
The Gyeongju Historic Area, registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage on November 2000, is an area that embodies the time-honored history and culture of Gyeongju, the ancient capital of the Silla Kingdom (57 BC-AD 935).
The Gyeongju Historic Area can be divided into 5 major sections.
The first section is the Namsan Area, a treasure trove of Buddhist art masterpieces dating back to the Silla Kingdom. Gyeongju Namsan Mountain (often referred to as an ‘outdoor museum’) is home to many historical heritage sites from the Silla Kingdom.
Major attractions include: Poseokjeong (Historic Site No.1), Tapgok Maaejosanggun (Treasure No. 201), Cheollyongsaji Three-story Stone Pagoda (Treasure No. 1188), Chilbulam Maae Stone Buddha (Treasure No. 200), Bulgok Seated Stone Buddha (Treasure No. 198), and 37 other Buddhist relics.
The second section is the Wolseong Area, one of the former palace sites of the Silla Kingdom. The area consists of Gyerim (Historic Site No. 19); Donggung Palace and Wolji (Historic Site No. 18), a Silla Royal Palace site; and Cheomseongdae (National Treasure No. 31), the oldest observatory in the East. Daereungwon area, the third area, features a cluster of the royal graves of the Kings and Queens of Silla.
Also in the same area are Gobungun (a cluster of old graves) in Nodong-ri (Historic Site No. 38), Gobungun (a cluster of old graves) in Noseo-ri (Historic Site No. 39) Gobungun (a cluster of old graves) in Hwangnam-ri (Historic Site No. 40), and Oreung (Historic Site No. 172), among others.
Archaeologists have discovered a number of invaluable relics and historic items in this area such as Geumgwan (golden crown), Cheonmado (a painting of flying horses), and numerous pottery pieces. These finds are perhaps the greatest clues into the life of the people of the Silla Dynasty.
Area number four, the Hwangnyongsa Area, is where the former site of the Hwangnyongsa Temple (Historic Site No. 246) and Bunhwangsa Stone Pagoda are located. Lastly, is the Sanseong Area, housing remnants of the major defense system for the capital city.
The site consists of Myeonghwalsanseong Fortress (Historic Site No. 47) which is estimated to be around 400 years old.
The Gyeongju Historic Area has a total of 52 designated cultural assets that are registered as World Cultural Heritages.