the "Great Sage Scenic-Valley" associated with Choi Chi-won
including Beobhwa-seonwon Temple
in the Central-South Sector of Jiri-san (West of Samshin-bong)
The 5-km-long Daeseong-gyegok [Great Sage Scenic-Valley]
begins at Beomwang-ri Village, the top end of Hwagye-dong
Valley (the road forks; left goes up to Chilbul-sa, right is Daeseong),
and twists up to Euisang Village following the upper Hwagye-
cheon Stream. The steep slopes on either side are covered
in unspoiled deep forest, and the waters are perfectly clean.
Near the Beomwang-ri Intersection is found the more-than-
Just below the Pujo-namu in the Hwagye-cheon Stream is the Se-i-am [Washing-Ears Boulder],
where local legend says Choi Chi-won knelt to wash all the corrupt words out of his ears with
these pure waters. This would've been when he first arrived here at Jiri-san around 900, after
fleeing from Gyeongju, the hopelessly-degenerate and collapsing capital of the Shilla Kingdom.
This association with the famously wise Choi Chi-won is why this area is called Great Sage Gorge.
Euisang Village is where the paved road ends, although a rough dirt road (jeep-only) continues up what
is called the Euisang-gyegok and then winds over Jiri-san's main ridge, close to Byeokso-bong Peak
(1392m) -- South Korea's highest road-pass -- before descending to the Yeongwon-sa area in the north.
Therefore, this is a popular trailhead for hikers. Euisang is a pretty little cluster of houses including what
look like vacation-homes of wealthy urbanites. Some farmers / producers of green tea also live up in
simple cabins here, as in the right photo, with drying persimmons. A bit below the village there is a new
"Jiri-san History Museum" that focuses on the fight against communist partisans in this area 1951-57.
|Green Tea fields on the steep slopes of the Daeseong-gyegok, a recent development.
|Nothing sets off the rusty colors of autumn leaves better than grey granite crags and boulders...
|Its modern Yong-wang, Chil-seong and San-shin paintings, found in the
Samseong-gak below-center, are well-done but entirely unexceptional.
500-years-old Pujo-namu (Provincial Cultural Treasure #123) pictured here -- a gigantic "Korean Black Hackberry"
Elm tree, 25m tall and 29m wide, the largest such tree in South Korea. Local legend claims that it sprouted
from a hiking-staff that Choi Chi-won spiked into the ground when he stopped here.
This new temple, calling itself the
[Three-Spirits Mountain Dharma-Flower Meditation-Garden], is the only religious institution I found in all
the Daeseong-gyegok. It's dramatically visible along the road, across the Hwagye Stream, and has big
ambitions for future construction. It grows its own field of green tea bushes, now very common in this area.