Gimhae City 김해시

A couple weeks ago I went on a trip to Busan and Gimhae, but I’ve been a bit lazy about uploading those photos until now. I will to upload the Busan post within the next few days.

The city of Gimhae is located in the South Gyeongsang Province 경상남도, just above Busan. Gimhae’s legacy is that it was the capital of the Gaya Confederacy (42-532) which had grown out of the Byeonhan Confederacy 변한 of the Samhan Period 삼한시대. Gaya was later annexed by the Silla Kingdom 신라, which is interesting because I found a lot of similarities between Gimhae and Gyeongju 경주 (the former capital of the Silla Kingdom.)

TRAVEL ITINERARY: DAY ONE

1. Gimhae National Museum 김해국립박물관

2. Guijibong Peak 구지봉

3. Royal Tomb of Queen Suro 수로왕비릉

4. Daeseongdong Tombs Museum and Excavation Site 대성동고분박물관

5. Gimhae Folk Museum 김해민속박물관

6. Royal Tomb of King Suro 수로왕릉

 

TRAVEL ITINERARY: DAY TWO

1.  Bonghwangdong Relics 봉황동

2. Former President Roh Muhyeon’s Birthplace 노무현 생가

3. Clayarch Museum

<Image Source: Gimhae Tourism Website>

My first stop of the day was the Gimhae National Museum which opened in 1998 to preserve the cultural heritage of the Gaya Confederacy. It was a pretty large place that focused chronologically on the history of cultures that lived in and around Gimhae. There was a lot of pottery and I learned about how the uses of bronze and iron led to advancements in civilizations.

Gimhae National Museum Admission Fee: free

Operating Hours: 9am – 6pm weekdays / 9 am – 9 pm sat, sun / Closed Mondays

Average Viewing Time: 1-2 hours

Contact Information: gimhae.museum.go.kr/html/en/

English Accessibility: detailed English, Chinese, Japanese translations available

After checking out the museum, I walked up the small hill behind it to get to Gujibong Peak (구지봉). This is supposedly the birthplace of the Gaya founder Kim Suro. The legend goes that in the 19th year of King Yuri of Silla (42 AD), a golden box containing 6 golden eggs came down from the sky. King Kim Suro and the five other founders of the 6 Gaya Kingdoms were born from these eggs. There wasn’t much to see here, and I actually dropped my iphone while walking up and shattered my display screen, but atleast it was a nice place for a walk. In case anyone is wondering, Technomart in Sindorim has a lot of vendors on the 9th floor who’ll fix cracked smart phones.

Guijibong Peak Admission Fee: free

Operating Hours: 24 hours

Average Viewing Time: 15 minutes

English Accessibility: n/a

On the other side of Gujibong Peak (구지봉), there is the Royal Tomb of Queen Heo 수로왕비릉, the wife of King Kim Suro. Queen Heo Hwang-ok was originally a princess from the Indian country of Ayuta who may have became aware of Korea through her brother who came to Gaya to spread Buddhism. She had many sons, and some of them took on the surname Kim and others took on her own surname. Today members of the Gimhae Kim Clan and the Gimhae Heo Clan are closely related. It used to be taboo for members of these two clans to intermarry.

RRoyal Tomb of Queen Heo Admission Fee: free

Operating Hours: 9 am – 6 pm (Nov-Feb) / 8 pm – 7 pm (Mar – Oct)

Average Viewing Time: 20 minutes

Contact Information: 055) 330-3948

English Accessibility: detailed English translations

After that I walked back to the Gimhae National Museum where I had parked my car and drove to the nearby Daeseongdong Tombs Museum and excavation site. You could probably walk to Daeseongdong if it weren’t too hot or cold out. Although it was much smaller than the Gimhae National Museum, I actually liked this place a lot more because it was more detailed and focused. The museum itself looks like a mound and is pretty cool looking at night. The museum had lots of details about the burial process, which included things like digging the graves and preserving bodies. At the time, servants were sometimes buried with the deceased nobles. Hm..

 I walked around the site outside where many tombs were found, and you’ll see white lines marking outlining the sites of old excavations. There was even a team there doing an excavation when I visited.

On the opposite side of the site from the museum, there’s an open air burial exhibition hall where you can see what an actual tomb actually looked like. Apparently the people of Gaya would build newer tombs over old ones, so many of them were destroyed. One theory for why this happened is that there was a lack of sacred land for burials, while some theorize that it was a symbolic act to destroy the old.

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Daeseongdong Tombs Museum and Excavation Site Admission Fee: free

Operating Hours: 9 am  – 6pm 

Average Viewing Time: 1 hour

Contact Information: 055) 330-6881

English Accessibility: detailed English translations

Across the street, there’s the tourism information center if you want to check that out too. It was pretty large, and they had lots of booklets in English.

On our way to King Kim Suro’s Tomb, I saw the Gimhae Folk Museum 김해민속박물관. It wasn’t originally on my itinerary, but since it was free, I decided to stop by. It wasn’t anything special, but I would recommend checking it out if you have a lot of spare time.

Gimhae Folk Museum Admission Fee: free

Operating Hours: 9 am – 6 pm 

Average Viewing Time: 30 minutes

English Accessibility: none

My last attraction of the day was to the Royal Tomb of King Suro (42-199).

Royal Tomb of King Suro Admission Fee: free

Operating Hours: 9 am – 6 pm / 9 am – 5 pm (Nov – Feb)

Average Viewing Time: 15 minutes

Contact Information: 055) 332-1094

English Accessibility: English translations available

The next day I went to the Bonghwangdong Relics Site (봉황동유적).The site includes a shell mound exhibition from the Gaya period, and in 1920, it was the first archaeological site to be excavated in Korea.

This is also where the remains of raised houses and a residential site of the Gaya period were excavated. This is significant because it was one of the first places in Korea to have homes with elevated floors.

While there, I saw this squirrel pluck a mushroom, run up a tree branch, and then eat the entire mushroom. How cute.

Bonghwadong Relics Site Admission Fee: free

Operating Hours: n/a

Average Viewing Time: 1 hour

English Accessibility: Shell mound had detailed English

I also checked out the Birthplace of Former President Roh Muhyeon 노무현 생가 aka Bongha Village 봉하마울. It’s a typical farming village, and its name comes from the mountain above it, which is called Bonghwasan. The actual birthplace of the former president Roh Moo-hyun is a brick house with a slate roof that consists of two small rooms and a kitchen. It’s a shabby house, up on a hill nearby, you can also see Roh Moo-hyun’s newer home where he moved to after his presidency, but I didn’t take any pictures of that because there were some security guards there. I think his wife still lives there today.

In the neighborhood, there’s also a warehouse exhibition center commemorating Roh Moo-hyun, specifically the things he did to help farmers and agriculture.

Across from the warehouse, there is the grave site of the former president.

I suggest trying some of the Barley Bread Cakes? 찰보리빵 which tastes just like the ones that I just tried in Gyeongju 경주. Many of the street vendors in the walking path to Roh Moo-hyun’s birthplace sold them.

If you have some time to kill, The Clayarch Museum is pretty neat. It’s an art museum that exhibits modern art, and various buildings of the museum complex are really cool looking. In case you were wondering, Clayarch refers to clay and architecture, which I guess are two things this art museum exhibits.

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