Wilted Flower Knights

Things aren’t looking so good on the Korean peninsula right now, and Lunghu’s not merely referring to rising military tensions.   No, there are more serious cracks in the Korean facade than just a few stray howitzer shells on Yeonpyeong-do.

[Seokgatap,] one of the two ancient Buddhist pagodas that have stood for about 1,200 years at Bulguk Temple … shows fissures developing on an upper base … measuring 1.32 meters long and 5 millimeters wide, on one of its upper pillar stones.

There was recently a minor earthquake of magnitude 2.3 to 2.8 in the region, but its impact [on the damage to Seokgatap] is still uncertain.

Seokgatap is National Treasure No. 21 of Korea.   Bulguk Temple is located in Gyeongju, the millennium-old capital of Silla (57 BC – 935 AD) –one of Korea’s three ancient kingdoms– which later (briefly) unified much of the Korean Peninsula.   Just in case the historical/cultural harmonics aren’t quite resonating for you, Lunghu would like to point out that Korea’s southeast is the political stronghold of the (currently) governing Grand National Party.   21st century Korean cultural production that emphasizes the glories of the Silla Kingdom is often sponsored by corporate supporters of the GNP.   Not surprisingly, “major restoration was conducted between 1969 and 1973 by the order of President Park Chung Hee (a devout Buddhist), bringing Bulguksa to its current form.”   (General Park’s daughter, Park Geun-hye, is currently leader of a major faction within the GNP.)

The omens aren’t auspicious.  Buddhism was the state religion of Silla, an officially sponsored faith whose state–protection aspects were emphasized.  “Silla kings adopted Buddhist names and portrayed themselves as Buddha–kings.  A great number of temples were built, often financed and sponsored by high ranking nobility, the most notable being Hwangyongsa, Bulguksa and Seokguram. ”  When cracks appear in one of the principal pillars of state power, nothing good can be expected to follow.

 

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One Response to “Wilted Flower Knights”

  1. iago68 Says:

    Does that mean it’s the 21st most important national treasure of Korea, comes 21st alphabetically, or what?

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