Royal burial mounds that echo the mountains surrounding Gyongju
Gold slippers, remnants from the Silla Kingdom, at the National Museum.
The giant "Divine Bell of Great King Songdok" hangs outside the museum.
Picnic among the boulders on Naeyeon-san.Many hikers made the trek to at least the first waterfall, and the vast majority appeared to be over age 40. Some of them came prepared for the eye-blearing gusts of wind by sporting dark green visors over their faces. I saw many vigorous, 50-something couples and small groups strolling up the mountain, all in great shape and dressed in attractive sportswear. For them, a Saturday outing involved breaking a sweat. Younger members of their families were nowhere to be found, and my students told me that young people aren't into hiking. It's a pity, because Naeyeon-san is one of the most serene and awe-inspiring places I've ever been. It's hard to imagine a more romantic spot.
Four guardians glare down at you as you enter the temple grounds. They're huge, fiery red and imposing, ready to destroy any devil or other enemy that tries to come through. As a westerner, I perceived them as threshhold guardians, the people or situations that come our way on an early stage of the Hero's Journey, or monomyth, as Joseph Campbell explains it. Once you establish a goal, there is always someone or something to test your commitment--a college entrance exam, an audition or the miles of paperwork required for applying for your first mortgage.
To me, the four giants seemed to be asking if I was ready to leave my all-important life behind and contemplate whatever lies beyond. I know there are volumes of much more sophisticated explanations about the role of these figures, but my psyche is wired for the monomyth. Or maybe they represent the guardians of my purest state, always working overtime to protect it from my ignorance.