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Gongju: N36 26 36 E127 05 34
Buyeo: N36 16 07 E126 55 41
The Gongju and Buyeo Historic Sites refer to the cultural heritage from the Baekje Kingdom located in Gongju-si and Buyeo-gun, Chungcheongnam-do, Republic of Korea.
Korean history of about 5,000 years is divided into gradual stages of development: prehistoric, ancient, medieval, early modern, and modern. The ancient times of Korea saw the co-existence of the three kingdoms on the peninsula and beyond, which include Baekje (B.C.18~A.D. 660), Silla (B.C. 57~A.D. 935), and Goguryeo (B.C.37~A.D. 668). The three kingdoms developed unique cultural characteristics through the process of competing and cooperation with each other. Those cultural traits have been passed down to the next periods, Goryeo and Joseon and established as "Korean culture." The cultural characteristics from the Baekje kingdom, along with those from the other two ancient Korean kingdoms form the basis of Korean culture as we see today.
The Gongju and Buyeo area in Chungcheongnam-do had been the capitals of the middle and later periods of the Baekje Kingdom and, thus, maintains numerous remains of the splendid culture of Baekje. Although Gongju and Buyeo are different administrative districts, they are only about 30km apart and form one cultural zone. Located along the Geumgang River, they had advantages in defense and trade. Such advantages had made Baekje a leader in the exchange of culture and goods in East Asia during the ancient times.
In its early years, Baekje placed its capital near the Han River, but later moved it to Gongju (A.D. 475~538, Ungjin Era) and then Buyeo (A.D. 538~660, Sabi Era). That is why Gongju and Buyeo are home to a great number of historic places which bear witness to the heyday of the Baekje culture. The important remains of Baekje in Gongju are Gongsanseong Fortress, groups of tombs in Songsanri, Suchon-ri tombs and Goma Ferry area. The major remains in Buyeo include the Busosanseong Fortress, Jeonglimsa Temple site, Naseong Fortress, tombs and temple sites of Neungsan-ri, Cheongsan Fortress, Cheongmasanseong Fortress, Yongjeong-ri Temple site, and Gudrae area.
Gongsanseong Fortress is where the palace of Ungjin area and the surroundings of the palace are located. The fortress was repaired and reconstructed several times from the Baekje period throughout the Joseon Dynasty. As a result, there coexist the earthen castle of Baekje and stone castle in Joseon showing the process of evolution from earthen to stone castle signifying the importance of the heritage.
The tombs in Songsan-ri is famous for the royal tomb of King Muryeong, the only tomb from the Three Kingdoms era whose year of construction and the person buried in the tomb has been identified. About 4,000 relics found in the tomb provide us with significant historical facts of the Baekje culture and materials for further research on the ancient times of East Asia. Tomb No.6 among the group of tombs in Songsan-ri and that of King Muryeong are made of bricks, a clear evidence of the kingdom's active exchange with China in a wide range of areas.
The tombs in Suchon-ri are the tombs of the ruling class. A lot of the relics of the highest ruling class were discovered, such as gold-copper crowns, gold-copper shoes, and Chinese ceramics. This is yet another evidence of the abundant and prosperous trade between Baekje and China.
Busosanseong Fortress in Buyeo, is known to be the site of the palace from the Sabi Era (A.D. 538~660). The fortress in the background of the palace served as its rear guarden.
In Jeonglimsa Temple site stands a 5-story stone pagoda from the Baekje period. Wooden pagodas were mostly built before the construction of the Jeonglimsa Temple, however in line with the construction of the temple, wooden pagodas were gradually changed over to the stone pagodas, of which the stone pagoda in this site proves to be the first of its kind.
The Naseong Fortress surrounds the inner city. The fortress was intended to vividly show the dignity of both the kingdom and the king. The construction and engineering techniques used in Naseong can also be widely found in China and Japan.
The Cheongmasan seong Fortress is the representative mountain fortress of Baekje. The fortress was designed to protect the entire capital, a different function from Naseong. The fortress is a significant evidence of diverse kinds of fortresses built in the Baekje period.
As so described, Gongju and Buyeo Historic Sites provide us with a comprehensive view on the history and culture of Baekje, featuring a variety of cultural heritage including fortresses, tombs, and pogodas. The remains were evidence of what had been created and formed through the long-term exchanges and interactions with China and Japan, and therefore well represent the universal values of the ancient culture of East Asia.
(ii) exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design
Gongju and Buyeo Historic Sites are a vivid testimony to the active exchange and trade during ancient times among China, Korea, and Japan. There are a number of historic places and properties that share similar architectural and technical characteristics with China and Japan. Baekje adopted architectural culture from China, developed it in its own style, and then transmitted it to Japan.
(iii) bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared
Gongju and Buyeo Historic Sites hold a series of evidence of the unique cultural traits that flourished during ancient times on the Korean peninsula. Baekje developed its own cultural traits different from China and Japan.
(iv) be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history
Gongju and Buyeo Historic Sites include a number of fortresses, pagodas, and temples. The pagodas and temples found in the sites tell a great deal about the characteristics of Buddhism widespread in East Asia during ancient times. Also the diverse kinds of fortresses in the sites embody outstanding architectural and engineering techniques.
Gongju and Buyeo area is one of the districts in Korea where development has been most controlled. Therefore, there has been almost no damage, modification, or unauthorized restoration of the cultural remains caused by development. Recently, the Historic Cities Conservation Act has been enforced strictly inhibiting the development in Gongju and Buyeo area. As a result, a remains in Gongju and Buyeo areas maintain their originality.
In addition to the scientific investigations on the cultural heritage, integrated and systematic studies and efforts have been performed for the preservation of the original form. For maintenance and restoration, the master plan has been developed and implemented through consultation with the authorities, local people and relevant academic circles. These endeavors contribute to the authenticity of the historical heritage in both Gongju and Buyeo.
The cultural heritage in the Gongju and Buyeo areas are solid evidence of the Baekje civilization once thought to have perished. They can be classified into fortresses, temples, and old tombs, which were the three elements that comprise a capital in the period of the Three Kingdoms. Most of the remains have been unearthed and examined, and designated as national cultural heritage for their importance as recognized by cultural heritage experts. The remains and relics are preserved and controlled by the pertinent laws including Cultural Heritage Protection Act.
In the country
The historic sites of Gongju and Buyeo can be compared with the Gyeongju Historic Areas and the Goguryo Mural Tombs.
Gyeongju Historic Areas, which was inscribed as World Heritage in 2000, had been the capital of Silla and contains fortress, temples, and old tombs, like Gongju and Buyeo area which had been the capitals of Baekje. About 60% of the heritage in Gyeongju Historic Areas had been constructed in the Unified Silla period and dated later than those in the Gongju and Buyeo area by about one half century. The seniority of the Baekje culture was recognized by the fact that the 9-storied wooden pagoda of Hwangyongsa Temple which was a national project in the Silla era was constructed by the Master Abiji of Baekje.
The historical heritage of Goguryeo relates to the fortresses and old tombs distributed in the ancient capital areas. The murals on the tomb walls were a unique feature in the tombs of Goguryeo (only two tombs of Baekje have murals as discovered so far), however, there are no Buddhist temples in the Goguryeo heritage. Also Goguryeo culture was not as influential to its neighbors as Baekje which had promoted mutual development in China and Japan through cultural exchanges. This is the main difference between the Gongju and Buyeo Historic Heritage Sites and those of Goguryeo and Silla.
Out of the country
There are few preceding cases where an entire area of the capital of a perished civilization, like Gongju and Buyeo Areas, to be designated as a historic heritage. This is because relatively few historic sites have the three elements-fortress, religious facilities (temple), and tombs-of a capital of a kingdom.
In Japan, the Buddhist Monuments in Horyu-ji Area became the first heritage to be inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1993, followed by the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto in 1994 and the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara in 1998. The Buddhist Monuments of Horyu-ji Temple, as its name means, are limited to Buddhist heritage and the pagoda of the heritage is a 5-storied wooden pagoda. The Gongju and Buyeo Historic Sites include capital fortresses and groups of tombs as well as temples. Especially, the pagoda in the Jeonglimsa Temple site is a 5-storied stone pagoda, a more developed form of pagoda than the wooden one. Kyoto and Nara World Heritage Sites are the historic heritage areas that represent the ancient culture of Japan. However, they do not have the fortress, religious facilities (temples) and tomb groups, different from the Gongju and Buyeo area. More than anything else, Kyoto and Nara does not have the fortress which shows the dignity of capital and is a symbolic structure that divides inside and outside of the capital. In addition, the monuments in the Kyoto and Nara areas were built later than those of the Gongju and Buyeo area by two or three centuries.
In China as well, there are no ancient cities containing all the elements of palace, temple and tombs in one place. Heritage such as the Forbidden Palace is a good example of a palace but does not include fortresses or tombs in relation to the kingdom, and also is a heritage from the Ming and Qing dynasties starting from the 14th century, 700 to 900 years later than those from the Baekje Kingdom.