|여주시 · Yeoju City|
|• Revised Romanization||Yeoju-si|
|Administrative divisions||1 eup, 8 myeon, 3 dong|
|• Total||608.64 km2 (235.00 sq mi)|
|• Density||172.1/km2 (446/sq mi)|
여주 ('Yeoju)' is a city in 경기도 (Gyeonggi) Province, South Korea. Yeoju was a county but was raised to the status of a city in September 2013. Together with the neighboring city of 이천 (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, 명성황후 (Empress Myeongseong).
There have been human settlements in the Yeoju area since Paleolithic times. At the 흔암리(Heunam-ri) archaeological site, just southeast of the city proper, fragments of herringbone patterned earthenware pottery, axe heads, and other artifacts have been discovered. 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
Due to its location on the 남한강 (Lower Han River), Yeoju was a geographically strategic point for the rulers of the 신라 (Silla) kingdom. During the reign of 파사왕 (King Pasa) 5th ruler of Shilla from 80-112 AD, the mountain fortress of 파사성지 (Pasaseong-ji) was constructed just downriver from Yeoju on 파사산 (Pasa Mountain). The fortress continued to be used in later dynasties, until its importance faded due to the usage of 남한산성 (Namhansanseong) became more prevalent. The majority of the 1,800 meter long wall still stands today and can be accessed by hiking trails.
Yeoju is also home to 실륵사 (Silleuksa), the only riverside Buddhist temple in Korea. Silleuksa was founded in 580 by the monk 원효 (Wonhyo), one of the leading minds in Korean Buddhist tradition. It is home to a collection of 7 relics as well as a brick-constructed pagoda, one of only several in the country.
The ruins of 고달사지 (Godal-Saji) temple are all that remain of a temple complex that was originally constructed in 764 AD by 경덕왕 (King Gyeongdeok), 35th king of Unified Silla. During the early years of the 고려 (Goryeo) dynasty, the complex was frequented and supported by the ruling family but was later burned down during the 조선 (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 
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 legislations to increase the agricultural output and improve the quality of the rice were put forth which led to Yeoju, as well as its nearby neighbor Icheon to become quite central to to the industry 
The tomb of 세종대왕 (Sejong the Great), the most influential king in Korean history, was moved to Yeoju from its former location in Seoul in 1469. The tomb continues to be one of the largest tourist attractions for the area.
In 1851 towards the end of the Joseon Dynasty 명성황후 (Empress Myeongseong), the last Empress of Korea was born in Yeoju. Her birthplace, 감고당 (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.
Due to Yeoju being the birthplace of Empress Myeongseong, Yeoju and the surrounding countryside was host to a fair amount of activity by the 의병 (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.
- (in Korean) 대한민국 경기도 여주시 도농복합형태의 시 설치 등에 관한 법률. Wikisource.
- Birthplace of Empress Myeongseong. 2004. Yeoju Website. 25 October 2006.
- "흔암리" 네이버 지식백과. 17 November 2013
- "파사산성" Korea Tourism Site 17 November 2013
- "문화재청" Cultural Heritage Administration. 17 November 2013
- "Silleuksa" Yeoju Website 17 November 2013
- "silleuksa.org" Official Silleuksa Site 17 November 2013
- "고달사지" 네이버 지식백과. 17 November 2013
- "Heritage TV" Heritage Channel. 17 November 2013
- "조선시대 여주" Yeoju History. 18 November 2013
- Nilsen, R. (2004). Moon Handbooks South Korea, 3rd eds. Avalon Travel Publishing. pp. 295
- "www.empressmyeongseong.kr" Myeongseong Website. 18 November 2013
- "조선후기 개화기" Yeoju History. 18 November 2013
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