ray of hope


Interior courtyard

Jongmyo Jerye

Photograph by Heimo Aga
A young man is honored during the Jongmyo Jerye, a ritual service for royal ancestors performed on the first Sunday of May each year.

Bongeunsa Temple

Photograph by Heimo Aga
A lantern exhibition at the Bongeunsa Temple, in the Gangnam district, is part of the annual Lotus Lantern Festival celebrating Buddha’s birthday.

Lotus Lantern Festival

Photograph by Heimo Aga
At the annual Lotus Lantern Festival, held to celebrate Buddha’s birthday, traditional fan-dancers perform on a stage in front of Buddha’s image.

Beopjusa Temple, South Korea

Lonely Planet Images 2011
The giant 33m high brass Buddha statue at Beopjusa(Popchusa) Temple on the side of a hill in Songnisan National Park.

 War Memorial


Lonely Planet Images 2011
Hand of statue in front of War Memorial at dusk.


Photograph by Alicia Pudsey
Rows of golden Buddhas silently welcome visitors to a Korean temple. Buddha was born in India some 2,500 years ago, and his faith reached the Korean Peninsula in A.D. 372, by way of Chinese monks. Koreans, in turn, helped the faith take hold in Japan.

Traditional Korean Celebration

Photograph by Alison Higham,
Performers take center stage during Chuseok, an annual three-day thanksgiving holiday. A harvest moon signals the start of the festival, celebrated with music, wrestling, dancing, and feasting. Koreans also honor their ancestors with a memorial service called charye.

Anapji Pond

Photograph by Jason Teale,
In 674 King Munmu created Anapji Pond within the walls of Wolseong, the royal palace during the Silla kingdom. Surrounded by magnificent gardens, the artificial pond was made to look like a small sea, complete with islands and sailing ships; modern treasure hunters have retrieved some 30,000 Silla artifacts from its waters.

Korean Calligrapher

Photograph by Alan Glockner,
Hangul has been Korea’s official script alphabet since the mid-15th century. But China and Confucianism had such a strong influence on the peninsula that many in Korea’s upper classes preferred Chinese characters until after World War II.

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

Photograph by Anthony Plummer
The guards at Gyeongbokgung Palace change frequently, as has much else since 1395, when a palace was first built on this central Seoul site during the Joseon Dynasty. The “palace greatly blessed by heaven” was destroyed by the Japanese at the end of the 16th century and again during World War II. Over the past two decades Koreans have been restoring Gyeongbokgung to its former grandeur.

Buddhist Lantern Parade, Seoul

Photograph by Chung Sung-Jun
Koreans carry colorful lanterns to celebrate the birthday of Buddha, the “awakened one.” No one knows the exact date or even the year of his birth, though tradition says it was some 2,500 years ago. Today, about a quarter of South Koreans identify themselves as Buddhists.


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