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Just one of the amazing views from Taejongdae Park, where Taejongsa Temple is located in Busan.
Hello Again Everyone!!
Taejongdae Park and Taejongsa Temple are named after the 29th King of the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C. to 935 A.D.), King Taejong. King Taejong Muyeol (604-661) enjoyed archery and hiking in this area of Busan. He was also the father to King Sejong the Great. Taejongdae Park is well known for its scenic views. You can see Tsushima Islands in Japan, as well as the beautiful rock beaches. The park is also famous for a ritual for the rain. The ritual is performed on May 10th of the lunar calendar, and it’s called Taejong Rain. Besides Taejongsa Temple, you can also enjoy Gumyeongsa Temple, an observatory, the Yeongdo Lighthouse, the Sinseon Rock (where deities came to relax), and the Mangbuseok rock, where a woman is said to have waited for her husband who had been taken by the Japanese. Taejongdae Park is known as Scenic Site #17. But above it all, it’s the amazing views that people come to Taejongdae Park, and subsequently see Taejongsa Temple along the way.
If you take the more scenic route, which I strongly recommend, you’ll come to the mountainside Taejongsa Temple after about 30 minutes of hiking. About 100 metres up the trail, you’ll come to Taejongsa Temple from the rear. So the first thing to greet you at the temple is the main hall. The main hall, which is rather underwhelming when you first see it, is made of concrete. Of note, the brown latticework is especially beautiful. On each corner is a manja. Housed inside the main hall, and sitting all alone, is a large golden statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). Flanking this statue on either side are colourful murals of the Buddha. On the far right wall is the Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian mural). It’s well populated with shaman deities and guardians. On the other wall is an equally elaborate mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).
Just to the rear of the main hall, and to the left, is the Sanshin-gak. Another concrete hall, this house-like structure has a nice painting of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). The painting is joined by a white statue of Sanshin-dosa (The Mountain Pass Deity). Just down the mountain, and to the left, is the Bo-gung shrine hall. Inside this hall are the purported remains of the Buddha that they received from Sri Lanka. As you enter this hall, you’ll notice a stone statue of a lying Seokgamoni-bul. Straight ahead is a large golden pagoda with an open chamber, where the partial earthly remains of the Buddha reside. Above is a window that lets in natural sunlight. Behind the golden pagoda are south-east Asian-looking statues of the Buddha. The walls inside this hall are lined with miniature statues of the Buddha.
Just out in front of this hall and the main hall is a very unique, non-traditional, three-story stone pagoda. Just beyond this pagoda is a field of stupas and the monks’ quarters. The final thing you can see, as you make your way back to the main road of Taejongdae Park, is a popular replica of a Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha) statue.
HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Taejongdae Park, and then Taejongsa Temple, you’ll first need to get to Busan Station. From the Busan train station, you can catch city bus #88 or #101. When you arrive, and from the entry of Taejongdae Park, you should hang a left and head up the road for about a kilometer. The temple is on your left.
OVERALL RATING: 4/10. On its own, the temple might be a two out of ten. But Taejongdae Park, which is a ten out of ten, raises this below average temple to a sort of respectability. While the temple purportedly houses the Buddhas sari (crystallized earthly remains of the Buddha), take your time and enjoy the must more pleasurable, and scenic, Taejongdae Park. Little else of this concrete temple is worth seeing.
One of the first openings you’ll come to at Taejongdae Park.
Another amazing view, as boats leave and enter the neighbouring Busan port.
A look over the sheer cliff at the neighbouring East Sea.
Finally, after 30 minutes of hiking, you’ll come to Taejongsa Temple. The first thing to greet you is the temple’s main hall.
The latticework on the main hall. Notice the manja design on the four corners of the windowpane.
A look at the altar inside the main hall.
A painting of Seokgamoni-bul beside the statue of a golden Buddha.
The mountainside Sanshin-gak at Taejongsa Temple.
A look inside at the mural of Sanshin, as well as a statue of Sanshin-dosa to the left.
The Bo-gung hall that houses the partial earthly remains of the Buddha.
The golden pagoda that houses the Buddha’s sari.
A closer look at the open chamber with the Buddha’s remains inside.
The Korean and south-east Asian style statues of the Buddha.
One last look…
The stupa field to the south of the temple.
One last amazing view of the neighbouring sea, as you make your way back to the park exit.
So it seems Kim Yun Ah may have been cheated out of retaining her Olympic crown in the figure skating. Adelina Sotnikova could have had some home help from the judges to push the 'Ice Queen' into silver instead of the much anticipated gold that the Korean public demanded and felt she deserved. But it wasn't just the Korean public, apparently many observers from a range of different countries were confounded by the judges scoring.
On the other hand, there were some people who thought that Sotnikova had a more difficult routine and therefore scored more points despite a minor - but what appeared crucial - mistake during her performance.
In the wake of this controversy, everyone has become an expert figure skating judge, one way or the other. I myself, don't have a damn clue about how to score a figure skating routine. From my perspective, Kim Yun Ah's routine looked flawless and beautiful and better than Sotnikovas (and Sotnikova's certainly not 5 points better), but what do I know? Nothing, absolutely nothing. My thoughts don't matter regarding who actually won.
With this in mind then, let's assume, for the sake of argument, the decision was a scandalous one and that the Russians fixed the whole thing and cheated Kim Yun Ah and the Korean public. If this is the case, it's wrong, annoying, and an example of sporting injustice. But what about cosmic justice?
I find it slightly ironic that Korea's number one sports star, and someone whose performances mean so much to the country, may have fallen foul to a controversial home bias decision at an Olympics. Why? Because one of the most blatant examples of home advantage cheating at any Olympics was perpetrated by the Koreans themselves at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 when Roy Jones Jnr fought Korean Park Si Hun for gold in boxing. You can see the full fight and judge for yourselves below:
Now, I'm not a boxing judge either, but this fight was the equivalent of a figure skater falling 5 times in a routine and still winning the gold in the face of an almost perfect performance by a competitor. Everyone knows that this decision was highly motivated by what many Koreans thought were bias decisions by American judges at the Los Angeles Olympics in the boxing 4 years earlier. The history is well summed up over at Gusts of Popular Feeling, along with some other issues regarding boxing at the games.
It is one thing getting even by a little cheating in a contentious, closely fought fight, but the obviously fraudulent decision in the Roy Jones fight was shameful and reflected badly on Korea.
Swings and roundabout then, and it seems rather apt that many Korean people feel cheated by the judges in Sochi, some might say it couldn't happen to a more deserving country.
It is tempting to think this way and to believe cosmic justice has been done. But personally, I do not believe in justice of this kind. If something was wrong then it was wrong. If it was done dishonestly, then that is even worse. And I know one thing for certain; if Kim Yun Ah really was the deserving winner and she has really been cheated out of a gold medal, then she does not deserve it, forget about Korea as a country.
The revenge aspect of the 1988 decision with Roy Jones is also something any right-minded person or Olympic organisers in a country would steer clear of. One hopes - but does not expect - that Russian athletes will be treated fairly in 4 years time when Korea hold the next Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in 2018. Unfortunately, the likelihood is that if a Korean ends up battling a Russian for a gold medal in an important event (especially the figure skating), Korean organisers may see it as an opportunity for retribution. Let's hope this is not the case.
An Olympics of any kind presents both opportunities to flourish and fail for the host nation. These days, it seems, people are waiting for what a country will do wrong in the lead-up to an Olympic games. In Russia's case, there were question marks about morality (think stray dogs), of the construction of the venues, and the general organisation. In London 2012 for the summer Olympics, questions were being raised before the start about the competency of security and of problems with dated infrastructure and poor transport. In Pyeongchang in 2018, the worry will be fairness and impartiality. Can South Korea, a country with a fiercely nationalistic mindset (it was about 90% Koreans who managed to crash the change.org site, and all for figure skating!) manage to not interfere with the results of events? The temptation for revenge was too great in 1988, so will it get the better of them 30 years later as well?
It will be a test for the character of a nation and it is an opportunity for Korea as a country to show they are above this kind of skulduggery and insecurity now. They now understand the burn of being cheated like Roy Jones Jnr. I hope they can react to Kim Yun Ah's disappointment in the best possible way, rise above it in four years time and do their best to be fair to all athletes who have trained so hard for the chance to be Olympic champions. They and the world demand that they be judged on their performances, not on where they were born.
There are three screenings:
On Wednesday (2/26), you can see the films starting at 7 pm near Chungmuro Station at Oh! Zemidong Theater. (The theater is in the station).
On Friday (2/28), Chingusai is screening the film in their office at 7pm.
On Saturday (3/1) at 7pm, the Korean Film Archive has a screening.
Tickets are 5000 won, and can be reserved by e-mailing email@example.com and transferring the 5000 won to Citi Bank account number 437 13765 262 01 (Choi Young Jun).
If any of my readers need help with directions to the theater or with the process of getting tickets, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can try to help.
The films are in Korean (without subtitles).
That New Report on North Korean Human Rights: It won’t Change the North – but It will Pressure China
This is a re-up of a short piece I wrote for the Lowy Institute’s blog on that recent North Korea human rights report from the UN. The more I think about it, the more I think its big impact will be to raise the moral pressure on China to either rein in North Korea or start cutting it off. NK is an embarrassment to China. My Chinese grad students get flustered and sheepish whenever I mention this. I think this moral embarrassment is the best way to push China on this. And once China finally cuts off NK, then we’ll see real change at last. I also thought this analysis piece from Foreign Policy was pretty good.
“This month the United Nations (UN) told us what we all already knew – that North Korea is the world’s worst human rights abuser. Specifically, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the formal name of North Korea) of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a lengthy, well-documented report that North Korean repression, in the words of the Australian chair of the Commission, Michael Kirby, is “strikingly similar” to that of the Nazis. This is a landmark finding, not only for its willingness to call out North Korea explicitly, but for its origin in a multilateral body channeling global public opinion. I see four elements in the coming fall-out from this:
1. Because this comes from the UN, it carries the imprimatur of the international community in a way that reports from the western states and NGOs cannot.
This is probably the report’s greatest import. The findings themselves, however disturbing, are not really new. Even those who do not study Korea or Asia have known for a long time that North Korea is an orwellian hellhole. I had a (Korean) student who once wrote a paper claiming 1984 was the blueprint for North Korea. I recall reading once back in the 1990s, when the Taliban still governed Afghanistan, that human rights groups ranked North Korea even below them. (Here are the North Korea pages for both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.) More importantly, a robust North Korean defector/refugee literature has emerged in the last two decades. Barbara Demick’s book is probably the most famous, but the more North Koreans escape and tell their stories, the harder it has become to cover-up or deny the horrors.
Indeed, it is likely that this growing wave of defector literature helped push this investigation through from a major multilateral body with global credibility. Fairly or not, it is easier for reports from western or South Korean sources, whether governmental or non-profit, to be dismissed as ‘human rights imperialism’ or interventionist by those, such as China, who would rather not discuss North Korea’s gulags. But such claims from a UN body, complete with global membership, are far harder to dismiss. As such, I expect this report to be the new benchmark against which human rights critiques of the North are made.
2. The report’s origin with the UN will pressure China.
China is North Korea’s patron. Without the Chinese veto at the UN Security Council, North Korea would be even more isolated than it already is. China provides it with the fuel to keep factories running and the lights on. China also looks the other way on the massive smuggling taking place across the border. North Korea is technically under heavy sanction, but Chinese help – or at least, non-enforcement – reduces the bite of various embargoes. Certainly in my own experience, when I flew into Pyongyang from Beijing, there was no sanctions stop or check. Tourists loaded up on luxury goods like liquor and home appliances in duty-free and walked right onto the plane.
This is a pretty good deal for China. Chinese merchants and smugglers can charge cut-throat prices. The influx of various sanctioned goods keeps North Korea stumbling along and arguably helps forestall the country’s collapse. And all this interaction gives Chinese business privileged access to the North, particularly its prized natural resources. Chinese security experts openly refer to North Korea as a ‘buffer’ (I’ve heard this manipulative formulation at conferences repeatedly) between China and the democracies of South Korea, Japan and the United States.
But there are also a lot of ‘track II’ signals that China is uncomfortable with North Korea (again, I’m thinking of informal conversation on the conference circuit). The regime is so awful, that the alliance with China creates genuine reputation costs. The US ‘pivot to Asia’ is fuelled partially by China’s insistence on standing by North Korea, seemingly no matter what it does. This UN report is almost certain to be new ammunition in diplomatic efforts to pull China away from the North, and it guarantees another round of terrible press for China in both Asia and the West. This is good, as North Korea will probably not collapse until China finally pulls the plug. Normative pressure like this raises the ‘audience costs’ of Chinese support.
3. No sanctions relief will be forthcoming.
This report will also lock-in the extraordinarily tight sanctions regime around North Korea. As a report generated from within the UN, it will carry special weight in further UN deliberations on sanctions. The UN has a ‘Panel of Experts’ on the DPRK sanctions. They now have access to UN data without the politically controversial step of using information from member governments like South Korea with a vested interest in tougher sanctions. This will also raise pressure on China as the primary sanctions-buster.
4. Threatening prosecution at the International Criminal Court won’t help.
One unanticipated outcome of the report is the personal notification to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he may be held personally liable for the abuses and might be remanded, were it possible, to the ICC for criminal prosecution.
Human rights advocates often celebrate such threats as progress in human rights maintenance. They signal to potential future violators that there will be punishment and, hopefully, pre-emptively discourage violations. This ‘deterrence’ may work; the political science research on it is not clear as far as I know.
But there is a downside regarding despots already in power. To threaten them with prosecution almost certainly encourages to dig in deeper, to not give an inch. Bashar al-Assad is likely in such a situation. He has no exit, nowhere to go where he would be safe, so he fights all the harder to hang on. Kaddafi too signaled during the Libyan civil war that he was open to some kind of transition-for-escape deal. This never materialized, and he fought to the end. By contrast, Idi Amin was given refuge in Saudi Arabia.
In the North Korean case, it is often assumed the Kim family will run to Beijing when the regime starts to collapse. But if the Kims can find no refuge, because of efforts such as an ICC prosecution, or South Korean efforts to extradite them, then they are that much more likely to fight, possibly even launching an insurgency.
But all-in-all, this was a good day for human rights and tough one for China. That is progress.”
Gwangjang Market (광장시장) is one of my favorite traditional markets to visit in Korea. It’s in Seoul, close to Dongdaemun Shopping Center and Cheonggyecheon, so it’s a great place to take visitors as well.
People watch, eat traditional street food, and browse the blankets.
Directions: Jongno 5-ga Station (Subway Line 1), Exit 8 or Euljiro 4-ga Station (Subway Line 2, 5), Exit 4.
About the girl
Thank you so much for visiting and reading.
There's also a free PDF version of this lesson, with extra information and examples, on the YouTube PDFs page (link at top).
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I owe you the story of yesterday's dinner, we went out to have dinner with my sis' boss and his guest; a German girl who thought Korean things in German where better than in Korea, we went to have Vietnamese Shabu shabu, for me, it was my 1st Vietnamese style shabu shabu, luckily for us, they were playing a video with the instructions on how to eat it -lol-, the food was good, I liked Vietnamese style, they had 3 kinds on sauces and they were all spicy, my sis' boss was only focused on eating while the German girl was focused on how bad was I doing my summer rolls....I swear, she was also focused on how in Germany things are different, the kimchi is better, the korean everything is better.... to be honest, I can't deal with that kind of people, they annoy the F-out of me, you can't go to another country to learn about their culture and critize everything because in your town's K-town things are different, plus, she kept telling me "I know what you are doing wrong with your roll...want me to tell you?"....hmm... excuse me, DID I ask you??, ugh, I love food and I know sometims there's a way to eat it, but well.. as long as you enjoy it,,,, fuck everything else.... lol ---sorry!!!, just thinking about her upset me again-.
Today (or yesterday?...friday!), was a good day, I got to teach some classes, talk to my boss, sign up to Volunteer next week and then we (me and my sis) were supossed to meet some girl-friends for a night out, we wanted to go to a bar and just meet new people, our friend ditched us, but we decided to stick to the plan, we had a kebab in Itaewon and then moved to a bar, we decided to go to Seoul Pub because my sister wanted to mingle with other foreigners (that's a first), she thought it would be better to find another place but we've been to that bad before and we knew there were foreigner, plus, it's not very expensive and it's close to the subway lol... 3 minutes after walking to the bar and talking to the owner who wouldn't sell us some beer because my sis' didn't have an ID, she found a pic of her passport and we were allowed to drink, as soon as they brought the 1st pitcher, a guy came to us, he seemed nice and spoke spanish, then his 2 other friends came and we ended up having a nice chat and meeting new people, I like meeting new people because is always nice to make new friends, but I hate it when they tell you "I'm not trying to pick you up" when they clearly are doing so....
Aaaaaaaanyway, it was a crazy week, this weekend we have 2 weddings to attend, 1 of them is outside of Seoul so, we will be doing some traveling, next week we are volunteering and i'll try to sneak into 2NE1's afterpary -lol- and the 2nd week of march we are going back to Osaka, so, looks like we are having some crazy weeks ahead and I'll be blogging about it...
For now, I think that's it....
Did I mention last night I dreamed about G-dragon being my best friend???, I should stop listening to his music lmao.
Lets Speaking Engrish
I don’t quite know why I enjoy bad English written on important looking signs so much. Perhaps it’s the awkward placement of the words, the total disregard of grammatical structures, or maybe I’m just a thoroughly immature wanker. Hmm. Well, anyways… Plastered all over this page are a few badly taken shots of the Engrish I’ve encountered over the years. Please to enjoy:
A disclaimer for the humourless: I know, I know. For a common denominator, Engrish ranks pretty low. And my Chinese, Korean, and Japanese are absolutely nonexistent. I’m no more able to nail up a sign, let alone write a compressible sentence in any language other than English (and if you’ve ever read the site, you might question that ability!). Nevertheless, I can’t help but crack a smile whenever I encounter some Engrish. They’re almost like a play on words. And it’s the words themselves that are the joke, and obviously, not the people that wrote them.