Although you'd never know it from the weather this week, spring has arrived in Korea. Spring means lots of flowers, especially the numerous 벚꽃--cherry blossoms (many originally planted during Japanese imperialism as a way to demoralize and imperialize Korea, which have thankfully lost much of their negative associations for young Koreans). Last weekend, Min Gi and I drove out to Gyeongju to visit our friend Hayoung, partake of the spring flowers, and finally see Seokguram one of the most famous historic pieces of Buddhist art in all of Korea that I have managed to fail to see on each of my many trips to Gyeongju.
Seokguram, along with Bulguksa, make up one of Gyeongju's two UNESCO World Heritage sites. Although it is only a few kilometers from the temple I've visited many times, I've never actually made it out there. Carved in the late 700s, the stone statue in the cave is quite stunning and well-preserved, although it is behind glass and photos are not permitted. The winding path up the mountain was terrifying in Min Gi's old Korando, but the walk to and from the grotto was peaceful and natural.
We had a traditional Korean lunch with our friend Hayoung, who was one of the announcers at our wedding. We then had some coffee in a small park near his apartment.
Finally, Min Gi and I battled the intense traffic of every other Korean person in Gyeongsangbuk-do who wanted to see the cherry blossoms near Beomun Lake resort and took two hours to drive less than five kilometers.
|Gyeongju Spring Flowers|