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Memoirs of Goryeo: Historic Monuments in Kaesong, Part 1 of 2

2022-03-12
Language:English
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The country’s name “Korea” originates from Goryeo, a Korean dynasty which unified the Korean Peninsula in 918 and ruled until 1392. The capital of Goryeo was Kaesong, which was also the hometown of Taejo Wang Geon, the founder of the Goryeo Dynasty. Located 58 kilometers (36 miles) from Seoul, Kaesong became the capital and center of Korean culture for 500 years and remained famous for trading and commerce for a thousand years. According to records, Kaesong was a metropolis with a population of 100,000 households and over 300 temples, and one-third of Goryeo’s total population were monks. Many nobles and princes became monks. In addition, a greatly respected, virtuous, and enlightened monk, called a “National Preceptor,” served as the king’s advisor.

Under the influence of benevolent Buddhism, the kings of Goryeo issued several bans on the slaughter of cattle-people, and those who violated the bans were strictly admonished with punishment for murder. Goryeo people did not like meat. Their plant-based dishes were highly developed and kept evolving. Moreover, when ancestral rites were held, they did not place offerings of fish-people or animal-people, but instead served cookies with fried flour.

The historical value of the Tripiṭaka Koreana is described by UNESCO as “one of the most important and most complete corpus of Buddhist doctrinal texts in the world.” “Jikji” was written by the monk Baegun and was inscribed on the Memory of the World Register by UNESCO, with World Heritage status in 2001. The key surviving historical record of the Goryeo dynasty is “The History of Goryeo” or “Goryeosa.” It was composed during the reign of His Majesty King Sejong the Great, who was a vegetarian.

During the Goryeo Dynasty, Kaesong was an international trading city, trading with the Arabian, Persian, Indian, Thai, Aulacese, also known as Vietnamese, and the Chinese Song dynasties. Even with the change of dynasties, Kaesong maintained its position as a center of domestic and foreign commerce. Kaesong’s long and historical reputation in the commercial and financial sector brought the Kaesong Industrial Complex to fruition in 2003. The construction of the Kaesong Industrial Complex was started jointly by the southern and northern parts of Korea.

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