Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kyungpo Pavillion & Lake

Fleeing the busyness of Seoul, I spent a long weekend at a beach front hotel in Kangneung. With Kyungpo-ho (lake) behind me and an overview of the undulating ocean directly in front of me, I slept in the peaceful salt-tinged air. Although the tourist season is past (making the hotel quite affordable - I even bargained because there's just no competition for vacant rooms!) the beach was still warm and inviting. I spent a good long time wading and relaxing by the water with a book. I even intended to go swimming -- yes! shocking to swim when the season is closed, but the weather was still nice enough for a short, brisk swim. Well, I intended to wait till noon before plunging into the water, and got quite a lot of sunshine before that ... but around noon the clouds suddenly blew in and the day turned downright chilly in less than an hour! About the time the day was becoming jacket-weather, these two girls dressed in hanboks appeared on the beach and were wildly playing at the edge of the slapping swells, and shrieking with laughter. I wasn't the only one of the beach entertained by their youthful enthusiasm!

They played for about 30 minutes and then were quite glad when Mom came and wrapped them in an adult sized jacket. Brrr, it was getting cold. Well, I had had enough beach for the day anyway, so went wandering around Kyungpo-Lake again.

Kyungpodae (Pavillion)

Kyungpodae (Gyeongpodae) is the famous pavillion overlooking Kyungpo Lake. Though first built in the Goryeo Dynasty in 1326 behind Inwolsa Temple, it was transferred to the present location at some unspecified later time. Of course the pictured Kyungpodae is not the original, as it was rebuilt in 1873 and has since undergone sporadic maintenance repairs. The pavillion is located on the steep hill closest to the lake and is known for its scenic views, as it is considered the best preserved site among the Eight Scenic Points of Kyungpo (which are - sunrise view from Nokdujeong Pavillion, Jukdomyeongwol, Gangmuneohwa, Chodangchuiyeon, Hongjangyau, Jeungbongnakjo, Hwanseonchwijeok, Hansongmojong) and the Three Lunar Scenes of Kyungpo (the Lunar Column, Lunar Tower, and Lunar Wave). Well, this list of scenic views and scenes was written on the information posting in front of the pavillion, but while I can make some educated guesses about the meaning and location of the 8 scenic points, I'm totally clueless what the 3 lunar scenes might be ... something specific to learn about when I come back. Anyway, inside of Kyungpodae is a royal poem written by the famous Master Yulgok Yi Yi at the age of ten. There were more famous pieces by people I haven't heard of but even foreigners recognize the illustrious penname of Yulgok Yi Yi!

Kyungpo-ho (Lake)

Concerning the legend of Kyungpo-ho, there's a folk belief that the five moons can be seen here at midnight when the moon is full: the orb of the bright moon in the sky, the yellow orb reflected in the water of the lake, an orb also in the sea, the moon reflected in your lover's wine glasses and of course the moon in your lover's eye(s). Rather romantic! However, there have been some changes to the lake which make viewing all 5 moons nowadays a bit difficult: the lake, formerly 12 kilometers in circumference, has shrunk to a 4 kilometer in circumference lake. The meaning of the Kyungpo-do is a lake with a surface as still and clear like a mirror. This placid calmness is still true, but it's shrinking size is a threat to the migrating birds.

Sunset views at Kyungpo-ho


  1. Beautiful pics, beautiful post.

    Wow, the circumference of the lake is a THIRD of what it was?! That's scary. Do you know what kinds of birds live there?

  2. Hi Mouse,

    I didn't see too many birds on the "pond", which is sad b/c it used to be a major stopover on the migratory route. Korea really should have some shame on its destruction of nature .... the evil Culture over Nature triumph attempt is just too obvious here.

    Anyway, I'm not much of a bird watcher but there were 3-4 egrets, 2-3 kinds of cranes (one a gray rough feathered codger and the other(s) was white - the calls and lift-offs seemed different among the white ones and so I suspect 2 kinds), a few small handfuls of mallards and a couple other kinds of ducks the size of mallards. Total birds on the pond couldn't have been over a 100. Really not much in the water ... or flying around or in the trees for that matter.

    Hmm, thanks for asking. I'll try to be more observant about the water fowl because since I came to Korea, the numbers of wildlife has astonishingly dropped and someone needs to be observant enough to document.