Yeoju

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Not to be confused with Yeosu, Jeollanam-do, the host city for Expo 2012.
Yeoju
여주시
Municipal City
Korean transcription(s)
 • Hangul
 • Hanja
 • Revised Romanization Yeoju-si
 • McCune–Reischauer Yŏju-si
At Yeongwollu
At Yeongwollu
Location in South Korea
Location in South Korea
City  South Korea
Region Sudogwon
Administrative divisions 1 eup, 8 myeon, 3 dong
Area
 • Total 608.64 km2 (235.00 sq mi)
Population
 • Total 104,774
 • Density 172.1/km2 (446/sq mi)
 • Dialect Seoul

Yeoju is a city in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea. Yeoju was a county but was raised to the status of a city in September 2013.[1] Together with the neighboring city of Icheon, it is known as a major center of contemporary South Korean ceramics, and hosts the World Ceramic Exposition every year. Other local products of note include rice, sweet potatoes, and yellow melons. Yeoju is the birthplace of Korea's last queen, Empress Myeongseong.[2]

Yeoju's institution of higher learning includes Yeoju Institute of Technology. The Jungbu Naeryuk Expressway passes through the city.

Early History[edit]

There have been human settlements in the Yeoju area since Paleolithic times. At the Heunam-ri archaeological site, just southeast of the city proper, fragments of herringbone patterned earthenware pottery, axe heads, and other artifacts have been discovered.[3] Further excavations from research teams and accidental findings from construction in the area have continued to reveal the continued human presence through the Neolithic era up to the beginnings of recorded history.

Three Kingdoms Period & Goryeo Dynasty[edit]

Due to its location on the Namhan River. Yeoju was a geographically strategic point for the rulers of the Silla kingdom. During the reign of King Pasa 5th ruler of Shilla from 80-112 AD, the mountain fortress of Pasaseong-ji was constructed just downriver from Yeoju on Pasa Mountain.[4] The fortress continued to be used in later dynasties, until its importance faded due to the usage of Namhansanseong became more prevalent.[5] The majority of the 1,800 meter long wall still stands today and can be accessed by hiking trails.

Yeoju is also home to Silleuksa, the only riverside Buddhist temple in Korea. Silleuksa was founded in 580 by the monk Wonhyo, one of the leading minds in Korean Buddhist tradition.[6] It is home to a collection of 7 relics as well as a brick-constructed pagoda, one of only several in the country.[7]

The ruins of Godal-Saji temple are all that remain of a temple complex that was originally constructed in 764 AD by King Gyeongdeok, 35th king of Unified Silla.[8] During the early years of the Goryeo dynasty, the complex was frequented and supported by the ruling family but was later burned down during the Joseon Dynasty. Currently there is little left but a few stone stupas and dragon-headed turtles scattered among the foundations. The intricate carvings in these structures, however, are a lasting example of the workmanship of early Goryeo artisans [9]

Joseon Dynasty[edit]

Yeoju continued to be an influence during the Joseon Dynasty due to being a major agricultural producer of staple foods such as rice. Throughout the dynasty various laws were passed to increase the agricultural output and improve the quality of the rice which led to Yeoju, as well as its nearby neighbor Icheon becoming central to the industry.[10]

The tomb of Sejong the Great, the most influential king in Korean history, was moved to Yeoju from its former location in Seoul in 1469.[11] The tomb continues to be one of the largest tourist attractions for the area.

In 1851 towards the end of the Joseon Dynasty Empress Myeongseong, the last Empress of Korea was born in Yeoju. Her birthplace, Gamgodang was mostly destroyed during the Japanese Occupation, but after the liberation of the country was restored due to honor her resistance of Japanese rule.[12]

Due to Yeoju being the birthplace of Empress Myeongseong, Yeoju and the surrounding countryside was host to a fair amount of activity by the Righteous Army in the years leading up to the Japanese Occupation . Along with the presence of Righteous Army guerrilla fighters in the area, some local farmers offered their support of the resistance by providing rice and other foodstuffs.[13]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ (in Korean) Wikisource link to 대한민국 경기도 여주시 도농복합형태의 시 설치 등에 관한 법률. Wikisource.
  2. ^ Birthplace of Empress Myeongseong. 2004. Yeoju Website. 25 October 2006.
  3. ^ "흔암리" 네이버 지식백과. 17 November 2013
  4. ^ "파사산성" Korea Tourism Site 17 November 2013
  5. ^ "문화재청" Cultural Heritage Administration. 17 November 2013
  6. ^ "Silleuksa" Yeoju Website 17 November 2013
  7. ^ "silleuksa.org" Official Silleuksa Site 17 November 2013
  8. ^ "고달사지" 네이버 지식백과. 17 November 2013
  9. ^ "Heritage TV" Heritage Channel. 17 November 2013
  10. ^ "조선시대 여주" Yeoju History. 18 November 2013
  11. ^ Nilsen, R. (2004). Moon Handbooks South Korea, 3rd eds. Avalon Travel Publishing. pp. 295
  12. ^ "www.empressmyeongseong.kr" Myeongseong Website. 18 November 2013
  13. ^ "조선후기 개화기" Yeoju History. 18 November 2013

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°18′N 127°38′E / 37.300°N 127.633°E / 37.300; 127.633