November 20, 2008

Korean Bridge Series (1st)

The Korea Post will issue the "Korean Bridge Series" during the next five years to introduce the beauty of Korean bridges. In the first stamps of the series, old bridges that give a hint of the wisdom and artistic sense of Korea's ancestors are introduced.

(1) Jincheon Nongdari Bridge
(Tangible Cultural Asset No. 28 of Chungcheongbuk-do Province) Located at Segeumcheon Stream in Jincheon, Chungcheongbuk-do Province, the bridge is quite unique as it is constructed of small pebbles assembled as if they were the scales of a fish. Presumed to have been built in the late Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), the original length of the bridge is estimated to have been more than 100 meters. Now, however, the bridge is 93 meters long and only 25 piles among the original 28 remain. With a width of more than 1 meter, the bridge remains intact until this day, having withstood the harsh summer monsoon seasons even though no lime or other adhesive building material was used in construction, indicating how advanced scientific methods of construction were at the time.

(2) Seungseongyo Bridge
(Treasury No. 400) Situated at Seonamsa Buddhist Temple in Suncheon, Jeollanam-do Province, the Seungseongyo Bridge is a granite structure built in the shape of an arch. Constructed during the Joseon Dynasty (1392 - 1910), the foundation of the bridge is made of natural rocks, and the construction is sophisticated enough to withstand powerful floods. When constructing the bridge, long carved rocks were connected with each other to create a rainbow-shape arch, which forms a complete half circle. And at the center of the bridge, a rock is carved in the shape of a dragon's head that protrudes to the below, creating an ornamental effect and adding beauty to the bridge.

(3) Geumcheongyo Bridge
Located at Changdeokgung Royal Palace, which is registered as UNESCO's World Cultural Asset, Geumcheongyo Bridge was constructed in 1411 (11th year of King Taejong's reign during the Joseon Dynasty) and is the oldest stone bridge among those remaining in Seoul. Standing 12.9 meters long and 12.5 meters wide, two arches are built from the foundation rocks in the stream bed. A rock carved in the shape of a mythical unicorn lion is located on the south side of the foundation rock, and that of a turtle is installed on the north side. Behind the carved rocks where the arches meet, is a carving of the face of a ghost, which is meant to chase away demons.

(4) Jeongotgyo Bridge
(Historical Asset No. 160) Located at Seongdong-gu, Seoul is the Jeongotgyo Bridge (also known as the Salgojidari Bridge) which was a major transportation route linking Hanyang (the capital city of the Joseon Dynasty) and the southeastern region. The bridge, the biggest of its kind built during the early Joseon Dynasty, is made of 64 rock pillars. To reduce the resistance of the water, the rock pillars were cut into diamond shapes. Unfortunately, parts of the bridge were damaged due to torrential rains during the 1920s. The bridge was restored in the 1970s; however, its appearance does differ from that of the original.

Stamp Issue: 2004-09-24

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