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Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, Busan

South Korea, a country of 51 million, is west of Japan. According to archeological evidence of tool making, the Korean Peninsula was inhabited at least half a million years ago. Its first kingdom was noted in Chinese records in the early 7th century BCE. Like Japan, S Korea is mostly mountainous, and the majority of the population live in the Seoul capital area, or along the coast.

Traditional Art, Music, and Architecture.

Minhwa has been a popular form of folk painting in S Korea since the 14th century. The paintings werebased on motifs in formal paintings and used as decoration, and were produced by travelling artists without formal training. The paintings feature popular themes such as cranes, rocks, water, clouds, sun, moon, pine-trees, tortoises, insects, and flowers.

There is a tradition of both music for the Court, based on ancient music from China, and folk music. Traditional musical instruments include the Bipa, a pear-shaped lute; a 2-string vertical fiddle similar to the Chinese Er-hu; chimes, drums, flutes, trumpets, and the Saenghwanh - a mouth organ with 17 bamboo pipes.

Pagodas - multi-tiered towers of various sizes have a religious function. The photo above shows S Korea's oldest stone pagoda, c.700 CE.

Traditional and contemporary Seoul

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