History & Culture

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History & Culture of Gangwon-do

History of Gangwon-do

Gangwon-do was originally a territory of Yemek, but during the reign of Taejong of the Goguryeo Dynasty, it became a vassal territory, and was later conquered by King Gwanggeto. It then became the territory of the Silla Dynasty by Silla King Jinheung and in 910 it became incorporated into Later Goguryeo of Gungye and later became a territory of Goryeo in 918 with the establishment of Goryeo.

In 995 (14th year during the reign of Seongjong), the provincial areas were divided into 10 provinces (do), and Hawju and Myeongju were combined into Sakbang-do, while also incorporating Chunju in this province. In 1178 (8th year during the reign of Myeongjong), Sakbang-do was renamed as Yeonhaemyeongju-do and the Yeongseo areas of Chunju (Chuncheon) and Cheorwon were renamed as Chunju-do.

In 1263 (4th year during the reign of Wonjong), Myeongju-do was renamed Gangneung-do and Chunju-do was renamed as Chunju-do. In 1314 (1st year during the reign of King Chungsuk) Gyoju-do was changed to Hoeyang-do and 1345 (5th year during the reign of King Gongmin), Gangneung-do was changed to Gangneungsakbang-do, but in 1357, the name was changed back to Gangneung-do. In 1360 it was called Gangneungsakbang-do and was again changed back to Gangneung-do in 1366.

In 1388 (14th year during the reign of King Woo), Sakbang-do was separated for the first time and was merged with Gyoju-do and called Gyojugangneung-do, while incorporating Pyeongchang-gun, which was under the jurisdiction of Chungju. In 91 (3rd year of King Gongyang), Cheorwon and Yeongpyeong were separated and placed under Gyeonggi-do. In 1395 (4th year during the reign of King Taejo of the Joseon Dynasty), its name was changed to Gangwon-do and in 1401 (1st year of Taejong), Yeongchun of Wonju and Yeongwol of Chungju were said to be incompatible so they were switched. In 1413 (13th year of Taejong), Gapyeong and Jojong were placed under Gyeonggi-do, while Icheon-hyeon of Gyeonggi-do was placed under Gangwon-do and in 1434 (16th year of Sejong), Cheorwon was placed under Gangwon-do.

During the reigns of Hyojong and Sukjong, it was called both Wonyang-do or Gangyang-do, but the name was then changed to Gangwon-do and the capital was set in Wonju. In 1888 (25th year of Gojong), the provincial capital was placed in Chuncheon, thus having separate jurisdiction with that of Gangwon, and in 1895 (32nd year of Gojong), the province was abolished and Chuncheon Yusugun was promoted to Chuncheonbu and at the same time, the jurisdiction was divided and administrative districts called gwanchalbu were placed in Gangneung and Chuncheon. The four districts (gun) of Wonju, Yeongwol, Pyeongchang and Jeongseon were transferred to the Chungju Gwanchalbu and in 1896, the 13 province system was revived and the Chuncheonbu and Gangneungbu were merged to make Gangwon-do, and the gwanchalsa was placed in Chuncheon and the four districts (gun) such as Wonju were returned.

During the abolition and amalgamation on March 1, 1914, Pyeonghae-gun was merged with Uljin-gun, Goseong-gun with Ganseong-gun, Gimseong-gun with Gimhwa-gun, Anhyeop-gun with Icheon-gun, and on May 15, 1919, Ganseong-gun changed its name to Goseong-gun. On April 1, 1931, Chuncheon-myeon, Gangneung-myeon and Cheorwon-myeon were promoted to eups, on October 1, 1938, Wonju-myeon, Samcheok-myeon and Gojeo-myeon of Tongcheon-gun were all promoted to eups, and on October 1, 1942, Sokcho-myeon of Yangyang-gun was promoted to eup.

Upon gaining independence on August 15, 1945, the nation was divided and 82 eup and myeon in 11 gun (districts) were in North Korea, and 91 eup-myeon of 10 gun and 1 bu were in South Korea. On June 1, 1946 with Chuncheon-eup being promoted into si (city), Chuncheon-gun became Chunseong-gun. On November 17, 1954 with the enactment of the temporary administration act of reclaimed regions, the area south of the buffer zone of Cheorwon, Gimhwa, Goseong, Yangyang, Inje, Yanggu and Hwacheon was reclaimed from the 37 myeon, 3 eup and 7 gun of North Korea.

On September 1, 1955, Wonju-eup and Gangneung-eup were both promoted as si (city) and Wonju-gun was renamed as Wonseong-gun and Gangneung-gun as Myeongju-gun. On January 1, 1960, Yeongwol was promoted to Yeongwol-eup and Sangjang-myeon of Samcheok-gun was promoted to Jangseong-eup. On January 1, 1963, Sokcho-eup was promoted to si (city) and Gimhwa-gun was integrated with Cheorwon-gun, Uljin-gun was placed under Gyeongbuk, Shinseo-myeon of Cheorwon-gun under Yeongcheon-gun of Gyeonggi-do, Deokgu-ri and Chopyeong-ri of Bonghwa-gun in Gyeongsangbuk-do were merged and incorporated under Yeongwol-gun, and Sodal-myeon of Samcheok-gun was promoted to Dogye-eup and Hongcheon-myeon as Heongcheon-eup.

On July 1, 1973, Sangdong-myeon of Yeongwol-gun, Jeongseon-myeon of Jeongseon-gun, and Geojin-myeon of Goseong-gun were promoted to eup, and the Sabuk branch office in Jeongseon-myeon, Jeongseon-gun was promoted to Sabuk-eup and the Hwangji branch office of Jangseong-eup of Samcheok-gun was promoted to Hwangji-eup. On May 1, 1979, Hoengseong-myeon of Hoengseong-gun, Pyeongchang-myeon of Pyeongchang-gun, Galmalmyeon of Cheorwon-gun, Hwacheon-myeon of Hwacheon-gun, Yanggu-myeon of Yanggu-gun, Inje-myeon of Inje-gun, Ganseong-myeon of Goseong-gun, and Yangyang-myeon of Yangyang-gun were all promoted to eup

On April 1, 1980, Mukho-eup of Myeongju-gun and Bukpyeong-eup of Samcheok-gun were merged to make Donghae-si and on December 1, 1980, Shindong-myeon of Jeongseon-gun, Dongsong-myeon of Cheorwon-gun and Wondeok-myeon of Samcheok-gun were promoted to eup, while Jangseong-eup and Hwangji-eup of Samcheok-gun were combined on July 1, 1981 to make Taebaek-si. In 1986, Samcheok-eup of Samcheok-gun was promoted to Samcheok-si and in 1989 Wonseong-gun was renamed as Wonju-gun and in 1991, Chunseong-gun was renamed as Chuncheon-gun.

With the si-gun integrations of 1995, Chuncheon-si and Chuncheon-gun was combined into Chuncheon-si, Wonju-si and Wonju-gun into Wonju-si, Gangneung-si and Myeongju-gun as Gangneung-si, and Samcheok-si and Samcheok-gun as Samcheok-si. Currently, it is comprised of Chuncheon, Wonju, Donghae, Gangneung, Sokcho, Taebaek, Samcheok, Hongcheon si (cities), and Hongcheon, Hoengseong, Yeongwol, Pyeongchang, Jeongseon, Cheorwon, Hwacheon, Yanggu, Inje, Goseong and Yangyang gun (townships).

Culture of Gangwon-do

Gwangwon-do, which has a long history, maintains various cultures and cultural properties from the folk religion of the prehistoric age, to Confucianism, to Buddhism, and to the tragic division of the present times. In particular, the Confucian culture, which places a high value on courtesy, shows the characteristics of Korean culture that is being spread to the rest of the world viathe Korean wave. It is easy to find traces of Confucianism and Buddhism in Gwangwon-do.

Shamanism Culture

IMan has lived in Gangwon-do for thousands of years, and there are ancient remains and relics dating from the Old Stone Age, to the Bronze Age, to the New Stone Age, and the province has been well managed and the evidence of the past has been well preserved. Balhwaseok (flint), Jjikgae (pointed tools), dollal (stone blades), and Goindol (dolmen) etc. enable historians to understand and study the life and culture of the prehistoric people in the midland of the Gangwon Province. Through these relics, Gangwon province is becoming a live education field for the Korean peninsula.

There are not only visible remains like theses, but also invisible relics, such as, custom and culture. As a mixture of a mountain village culture, an agricultural culture and a coastal culture, Gangwon-do contains a variety of customs and cultures. Over the centuries, some of these intangible assets have been transformed or have disappeared. However, there are still some that remain and they provide a great deal of insight into the province and the people.

Buddhism Culture

It was in about the 4th century that Buddhism was introduced to Korea for the first time. It was allowed by the royal families, and it was a means for national unity, and defense, so its practice was continued. In ancient countries, natural deities were mainly served. But, since Buddhism was introduced, the faith was gradually changed into Buddhism. Since it was introduced from China, the Chinese influence was significant at first, but it gradually settled into a Korean religion and was later passed on to Japan.

Since Buddhism was centered on the royal and noble families, it reached its peak in the age of the United Silla (676~935) and was absorbed by the people. Later there was a time of doubt and reflection against the excessive construction of Buddhist temples. Passing through these times, Buddhism became a folk religion that has been a major part of Korean history.

Also, at one time, there were more Buddhists in Korea than in any other country in Asia. At that time, the Hwangryongsa Temple in Silla was the largest wooden building and Mireuksa Temple of Baekje had the greatest denomination in Asia. Yet, now Buddhism is more of a philosophy than a national religion. The temples in Gangwon-do are located in deep mountains, unlike in other countries. The reason they were built there was to avoid the suppression of Buddhism during the Joseon Dynasty. Even though the location was from the suppression, the temples are so well harmonized with the mountains that it is good place to refresh and sooth an exhausted mind regardless of the visitor’s religion.

Confucianism Culture

Confucianism, which comes from the philosophies of Confucius of China, was introduced to Korea before the 3rd century A.D. and boomed during the Joseon Dynasty (1392~1910) before it was passed on to Japan. Confucianism had an influence on various facets of Joseon such as politics, economy, society, culture, and all Confucian ceremonies and rites were diffused into and practiced by the public, and began to have a powerful influence on the moral sense and values in traditional society. Even now, the basic morals such as respecting elders and a child’s devotion to their parents are all based on this Confucian tradition.

As a country with a long history, Korea is aware of the value of its traditional culture and seeks to preserve its tangible and intangible cultural properties. Korea has continued the tradition of Confucianism over the ages, which is a rarity among Asian countries, and it represents the majority of Korean sentiments.

In particular, Gangneung is the birthplace of Yulgok Lee(李珥 1536-1584), the most respected scholar in Korea, and his mother Shin Saimdang, and for centuries this area has produced several respectable politicians and scholars, and it gives the unique sentiments of a historic city.