|Captivated by the Slow City Cheongsong!|
Cheongsong-gun is located in the eastern region of Gyeongsangbuk-do Province in Korea. The name Cheongsong means “green pine trees” in Korean. As its name would suggest, Cheongsong is surrounded by dense pine tree forests. Cheongsong is also in a mountainous area and can be reached from other regions only after crossing over several hills. Thus, it is no wonder that nature is untouched and beautiful in the mountain villages of Cheongsong.
Major Tourist Sites
Designated a slow city, Pacheon-myeon and Budong-myeon of Cheongsong in Gyeongsangbuk-do Province are ‘mountainous’ regions where more than 80 percent of the land is made up of mountains. Only 10 percent of the land is arable, and the variation in land levels is high. This is in contrast with other slow cities where it is hard to find hills. For this reason, the slow city of Cheongsong is famous for its mountains and temples.
Juwangsan Mountain (721 meters) is said to get its name from the belief that this is where King Juwang of the Tang Dynasty(618-907) went into hiding. Composed of many oddly shaped rocks, Juwangsan Mountain is not that high, but its valleys are deep and beautiful. It is a popular destination for tourists in the autumn when its leaves turn colors. The mountain trails are well established and they are not too steep, so they are easily accessible for all visitors. Juwangsan Mountain was designated a national park in 1976.
Jusanji Pond is situated inside the Juwangsan Mountain National park. It is a man-made reservoir created for agricultural purposes. It was completed in 1721 during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Today, it is more of a tourist attraction. The 20 or so willow trees growing inside the reservoir create a picturesque scene with the landscape surrounding the pond. The trees, most of which are over 300 years old, help create a mystic ambiance in the area. This is a popular filming location for Korean movies, dramas, and commercials. If you want to see Jusanji Pond at its best, make sure to visit early morning when the lake is covered by fog.
Daejeonsa is a temple situated inside the Juwangsan Mountain National Park. It is also the first gateway to Juwangsan. When it was built, it was a grand temple, but many of its buildings were lost due to fires. Though it isn’t that big, the temple has a quiet and cozy ambiance, so it receives many visitors. The name of the temple is said to be derived from the name of King Juwang’s son Daejeondogun. Also near Daejeonsa Temple are two small hermitages, Baengnyeonam Hermitage, the name of which comes from the name of King Juwang’s daughter Baengnyeon, and Juwangam.
Cheongsong Eoreumgol Valley is a valley in Naryeong-ri, Budong-myeon. The higher the outside temperature is, the lower the valley water temperature is, thus the name Eoreumgol (Valley of ice). Due to this mysterious phenomenon, it has become a popular summer destination for tourists. But it is actually bustling with people wanting to get spring water year round. There is a man-made waterfall which is 62 meters high. In the winter, it turns into an ice wall, drawing a large number of ice climbers.
The Songso House is Important National Folk Material no. 250. It is said to be built in 1880 by the seventh descendant of the wealthy Sim Family from Cheongsong during King Yeongjo’s reign in the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) period. The name Songso was the penname of the seventh descendant who built the residence. At 99 kan (historic Korean unit of building space) in size, the house was the largest size available in those times for a private residence. The house is a great example of an upper-class residence of the Joseon Dynasty period. Sometimes, traditional folk games and performances are organized there.
Designated Gyeongsangbuk-do Province Folk Material no. 89, Head House of Pansagongpa Branch of Pyeongsan Shin Clan was the head house of the Pyeongsan Shin family in Pacheon-myeon. It was built there after the whole Pansagongpa branch of the Pyeongsan Shin clan moved from Jinbo-myeon to Pacheon-myeon after the Imjin War (war against the Japanese invaders between 1592 and 1598). The house was built around 1705 and has features representative of an upper-class residence of the later Joseon Dynasty period.
Major Hands-on Programs
The reason why Cheongsong was designated a slow city is because of the slow way of life where old traditions are well preserved. In particular, Cheongsong hanji and Cheongsong onggi, which are designated intangible cultural assets of Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, are great examples of what the ‘aesthetics of slowness’ is all about.
Cheongsong Hanji (Intangible cultural asset no. 23 of Gyeongsangbuk-do Province)
The traditional hanji (mulberry paper) of Cheongsong is produced in the customary way by Lee Ja-seong, a title holder who has run hanji production as a family business for seven generations. All the processes involved are done by hand and use only locally grown mulberry trees and clean water. For this reason, only a small quantity of hanji paper is produced. The hanji paper of Cheongsong has been made in this traditional way since the Silla Kingdom, so the colors and quality are outstanding. Those who have used Cheongsong hanji before are sure to come back for more.
Cheongsong Hanji Workshop
Cheongsong Onggi (Intangible cultural asset no. 25 of Gyeongsangbuk-do Province)
Master craftsman Lee Mu-nam creates Cheongsong onggi (earthenware) in the traditional way. All the processes— soil selection, soil stepping, and soil pounding— involve no machines but are only worked on by the hands and feet. Cheongsong onggi is very popular and known as a ‘breathing onggi,’ as it uses a special glaze that prevents water from leaking out, yet allows for air flow. Visitors can experience making onggi under the guidance of Lee at the Cheongsong Onggi Workshop. Children can take the onggi making program for free.
Cheongsong Onggi Workshop
Cheongsong Baekja (Local Cultural Heritage Material no. 1 of Cheongsong)
Cheongsong Baekja refers to porcelain wares used by the common people for about 500 years since the mid 16th century. The traditional baekja porcelain of Cheongsong was made with a unique technique which consisted of using crushed pottery stone to make porcelain. This is in contrast with the techniques used in other regions where white clay was used. Cheongsong’s baekja porcelain was highly practical and affordable and as such it was used by the common people. After enjoying long period of popularity, use of the porcelain declined in the 1950s. Today, the Cheongsong baekja tradition is preserved by master craftsman Ko Man-gyeong.
Cheongsong White Porcelain Center
Cheongsong Natural Dyeing
Near the Songso Gotaek Residence, there is a place where visitors can experience natural dyeing. Here, visitors use natural ingredients grown in Cheongsong and employ natural dyeing techniques unique to Cheongsong. In Cheongsong, natural dyes are made using local mineral water containing carbonic acid and iron and undergo a maturing process. This allows the innermost part of fabrics to be dyed, so the colors are more vibrant and last longer without decolorization.
Soseuljayeonbitkkal (Soseul Natural Colors, natural dye workshop)
Local Food & Festivals
Cheongsong apple and Cheongsong Apple Festival
Due to its crispness and juiciness, Cheongsong apples are often called ‘honey apples.’ Apples are a special and popular product of Cheongsong. The area has a small quantity of rainfall and an ample amount of sunlight, as well as a relatively large average daily temperature gap of around 13 degrees Celsius. These conditions result in the apples of Cheongseong being sweet and having a good texture, making them some of the highest quality apples in Korea.
Yaksu dakbaeksuk (chicken stew made with mineral spring water)
The dakbaeksuk (chicken stew) of Cheongsong differs from the dakbaeksuk in other regions because the stew is made with mineral water from the Dalgi Mineral Spring and Sinchon Mineral Spring, which have a high iron content and a fizzy taste. The chicken stew is made with mineral spring water, chicken, ginseng, jujube fruit, and mung beans, all boiled until they are cooked thoroughly. The stew is popular as it is good for treating gastrointestinal troubles and has invigorating properties. There are many dakbaeksuk restaurants near the Dalgi Mineral Spring and Sinchon Mineral Spring.
Sanchae jeongsik (prix-fixe with wild edible greens)
As a clean mountainous region, Cheongsong has ample wild edible greens that are good for your health. The Sanchae jeongsik is a prix-fixe meal that comes with cooked wild edible greens and rice with beans. The use of seasoning is kept to a minimum to allow the full natural flavors of the wild vegetables that are picked in the mountains come out. The types of greens vary by season, but the freshness is guaranteed year round.
Korean azaleas are one of the four attractions of Juwangsan Mountain. Though similar to other azaleas, Korean azaleas are distinct in that they have blackish red dots on the flower petals. The festival is held every year at the end of April or early May in the Juwangsan Mountain National Park area. Starting with a traditional ritual to pray for the health of visitors and the soul of King Juwang, the festival will unfold with a parade. A puppet performance and various other special events will also take place.
Ice Climbing World Cup
The 62 meter man-made waterfall in Eoreumgol in Cheongsong freezes in January and February. A natural ice wall of that scale is rare in Korea, so many ice climbers visit Cheongsong during this time of year. In particular, the Ice Climbing World Cup held in January every year draws throngs of people. The competition is attended by world-class ice climbers, so it is packed with sports journalists, competition staff, and tourists.
It takes about 4 hours from Seoul to Cheongsong by public transportation. If you plan to include Jusanji Pond and Juwangsan Mountain as part of your trip, make sure to plan for at least a two-night trip as it is best to see these sites in early morning
There is no train station in Cheongsong. To use public transportation, take a bus from Dong Seoul Express Bus Terminal.
There are many accommodation facilities in Cheongseong-eup, Juwangsan Mountain National Park or in Eoreumgol where there is a lot of traffic. Most are small-scale accommodation facilities offered by local residents, and no foreign language services are available. However, booking is not required.
[List of accommodation in Cheongsong]
Photo courtesy of Cheongsong-gun County Office