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 the 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

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.

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.

The buddhist 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.

History

History
Centering on the Taebaek Mountain Range stretched from the north to south along the Korean Peninsula, 82% of Gangwon-do is a mountainous district with high mountains and deep valleys. Gangwon-do is the source of Namhangang, Bukhangang and Nakdonggan, and the place where prehistoric cultivation started with the heavenly-blessed natural environment of Geumgangsan, Soraksan, Odaesan, Taebaeksan, and Chiaksan etc. In the age of ancient Joseon, it was called Yemaek, and in the age of the Three States, it was the central place where the various cultures of Baekje, Shilla and Goguryeo were unified. Afterwards, since the age of united Shilla, the Yeongseo region was called Sakju and the Yeongdong region was called Myeongju. Sakju controlled 12 Sokguns and 26 Sokhyeons centering on the Chuncheon region at present and Myeongju controlled 9 Sokguns and 25 Sokhyeons centering on the Gangreung region at present.

Gangwon-do province in the age of Goryeo contained most of the area of the Yeongdong region, the east of Taebaeksan, the lower part of
Jeongpyeong(定平) in Hamgyeongnam-do, and most of the Yeongseo Region except for some parts of the current southern part of the Yeongseo region. According to Yanggye (double gye) system of the 5-Do (general administrative district system) and the 5-Do (military purpose), it belonged to Yanggwang-do, in Donggye until the end of the age of Goryeo.



In the age of the Joseon Dynasty, it was affirmed as an official administrative district and named Gangwon-do, unifying Gangneung-do and Gyoju-do, and some regions were changed into the administrative system. However,it was continued until the 8-Do system was cancelled and the 23-Bu system was executed in the 32nd year of King Gojong.

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.



The confuctian 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.