Kyle Magnuson (United States of America):
First and foremost if you visit Iksan hopefully it's by car, as these sites are spread out and only few of them are accessible by bus. I visited Mireuksa temple site, and the Wanggung-ri Palace site. These historic areas really feel like archeological sites. There are few remains, but fascinating nonetheless. Interestingly enough the famous and enormous Mireuksa 5-story pagoda (originally 7-story) no longer exisits in a sense. Pretty much the only major remain at the site, Mireuksa pagoda has been dismantled to strengthen the base and back portion. So what you see is a huge building over a largely disappeared pagoda. The original stones are numbered and laid out over an area the size of a basketball court, all properly numbered and waiting to be put back together. (Very much like a jigsaw puzzle) The pagoda was in serious danger of collapsing under its huge weight, so I think the current plan is the best option. Mureuksaji was likely the largest temple in Korea, and the pagoda is the largest to my knowledge. The Japanese in 1915 built concrete supports at the back of the pagoda, helping the pagoda last another hundred years. When the pagoda is put back together it will be whole for the first time in about 400 years. The pagoda dates back to around 600 AD, likely the oldest stone pagoda in Korea.
The Wanggung-ri palace site is almost completely gone with only another stone pagoda (5-stories high), and some small stone pillars, foundations, and wall structures remaining. (Much of the site is closed for archeological studies) In the Iksan area alone there have been more than 19,000 Baekjae artifacts already unearthed. The sites in Iksan are interesting, but most visitors will come away somewhat disapointed, visit some of the excellent museums to add value to the sites. Undoubtably there will be a Baekje nomination inscribed, it is a very important dynasty in Korea, which came into contact frequently with Japan and China along its coastal areas though trade and regional dominance. (Noteworthy is Baekje's influence on ancient Japanese kingdoms) I expect the historic areas of Gongju, Buyeo, and Iksan will be combined for a successful Baekje dynasty nomination.
Date posted: June 2011
Have you been to Iksan Historic Areas? Share your experiences!