Korea’s southeastern region, encompassing Gyeongsangbuk-do and Gyeongsangnam-do provinces, is an area rich in tourist attractions, cultural assets and historical places. Hallyeo Maritime National Park and the mountains of Jirisan and Gayasan are among this region’s most outstanding natural resources. In addition, the entire city of Gyeongju, ancient capital of the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.-A.D. 935), is now an exceptional open-air museum. Royal
tombs, temple sites with weathered stone pagodas and fortress ruins are scattered all around the city and have yielded many ancient treasures.
Gyeongju’s main architectural sites are Bulguksa Temple and the nearby Seokguram Grotto. Both were completed in the eighth century and are representative of highly refined Buddhist art. They were included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1995. Other important historic sites include Daereungwon Tumuli Park, Oreung (Five Tombs), Cheomseongdae Observatory, General Kim Yu-sin’s Tomb, and Namsan Mountain, which is dotted with numerous Buddhist images, pagodas and temple remains. The Gyeongju National Museum houses antique treasures recovered from Gyeongju and its vicinity.
Bomun Lake Resort, 6 km from downtown on the eastern outskirts of the city, is an integrated tourist destination with several first-class hotels and various recreational facilities. Haeinsa Temple is famous for housing the
80,000 wooden printing blocks used to print the Tripitaka Koreana, which were carved in the 13th century. The Tripitaka Koreana is acknowledged as the most complete compilation of Buddhist scripture in East Asia.
Not far from historic Gyeongju are the growing industrial cities of Pohang and Ulsan. Pohang is home to the POSCO steel mills, while Ulsan is the industrial base for Hyundai, one of Korea’s leading conglomerates.
Further to the south is Busan, Korea’s principal port and second-largest city. The Jagalchi Fish Market, one of Korea’s most famous markets, is right next to the piers where fishing boats unload their daily hauls. The market offers tourists a great early morning attraction as buyers and sellers haggle over the catch of the day.
Andong is one of the last living vestiges of old Korea, a treasure-trove of Confucian tradition. Hahoe, a small village near Andong, which was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2010, is famous for its unique traditional masks and the mask dance-drama, Hahoe-talchum. Dosan Seowon, a Confucian academy founded in the 16th century by one of Korea’s most well-known scholars, Yi Hwang, is also nearby. Massive international tour and resort complexes were opened in 2006 in the western and northern areas, featuring ultramodern recreation and leisure facilities.