The founder of Korea’s Balhae Kingdom has risen after 1080 years of silence following defeat by the the Liao Dynasty in A.D. 926 — at least on Korean television and in an outdoor drama shot on Seoraksan (Mountain).
In Sokcho, a city near Mt. Seorak in Gangwon-do (Province), Daejoyeong, the founder of Balhae (A.D. 699-926), walks again to survey a kingdom that once occupied southern parts of Manchuria and Russia’s Primorsky Krai and the northern part of the Korean Peninsula.
State broadcaster KBS started to air the weekend TV drama “Daejoyeong” in Nov. 2006, and ratings have risen thanks to strong performances and the realistic, historically-accurate, sets built by Seorak Cinerama (www.seorakcinerama.co.kr).
Daejoyeong, a descendant of Goguryeo nobility, founded Bahae in 698 in order to revive the legacy of Korea’s Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C.-A.D.668), which collapsed under a pincer offensive from the allied forces of two dynasties –China’s Tang and Korea’s Silla (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.).
Around 3,000 vistors per day (7,000 on weekends) visit the 89-sq-km set to experience the beauty of old buildings done in Tang and Balhae’s revived- Goguryeo styles.
At the entrance of the park is a replica of Gwanggaetodaewang, the monument built for Great King Gwanggaeto (375-413), Goguryeo’s 19th monarch, bringing visitors the spirit of Goguryeo. A picturesque view of Mt. Seorak and the silhouette of the beautiful buildings create a wonderful harmony of Korea’s past history and present.
After passing a Goguryeo military check point, public buildings and villagers’ houses, guests come upon the imposing site of the 18-meter-high, red palace of the Tang Dynasty and its beautiful garden of Empress Zetian (철횓척쨍횢챘첵짢, 624-705), the Tang’s only female ruler.
Some lucky visitors may also spot the cast and crew shooting upcoming episodes. But even if the the cameras aren’t rolling, Nanta performances, percussion music using kitchen utensils; tight rope walking; and traditional folk games are available at the Cinerama for the guests’ pleasure.
Thanks to the drama’s popularity — over 30 percent of TV viewers — about 300,000 people have toured the site since shooting bagan six months ago, increasing the tourism flow to Sokcho and Mt. Seorak.