|The Jo-ryeong Pass 3rd Gate
in the Mungyeong-saejae Pass-Area
with a classic Sanshin-gak Shrine and Sacred Spring
a Key Point along the Baekdu-daegan Range and Trail
This great Gate, seen here from the western side in June 2010, has stood for 300 years at the crest of
Jo-ryeong Pass, also known as the Mungyeong-Saejae, dividing Mungyeong City of North Gyeongsang
Province from the Suanbo Hot Springs area of Chungju City of North Chungcheong Province. It stands
right on the crest-line of the Baekdu-daegan Range, a line that once separated the Shilla and Baekjae
Kingdoms, and is now a popular feature of the Mungyeong-Saejae Provincial Park. It was completely
repaired by the government in the 1970s, as an icon of traditional military defense. The three gates, their
stone walls and other facilities are collectively known as the Joryeong-gwan Fortress.
|Blue Dragon, symbol of the East, painted on the ceiling of this portal to Korea's southeast
The wall first comes into view while hiking the road up from Gosa-ri Village on the western side of the pass.
These walls extend to the steep slopes on both sides of the pass, sealing it off. Therefore the Baekdu-
daegan Trail is forced to go right through the gateway.
|Juheul-san Bu-bong Peak seen looking east from the Gate
Classical-style Sanshin-gak [Mountain-spirit Shrine] standing just 10 m to the north of the Gate.
It was probably built along with the gate, replacing an ancient Pass-spirit seonang-dang, and has been repaired
many times since. It would have been used by both the soldiers guarding this past and the Seonbi
scholar-officials traveling through it on their way to or from the capital, to pray for protection and success. It is the
only real Sanshin-gak that sits exactly on the crest of the Baekdu-daegan, making it highly significant to my
research. At this site just southwest of the half-way point of the 735-km modern-day Baekdu-daegan trail, which
runs past right beside it, it is visited by many hikers.
The the painting inside of the Shrine is quite ordinary in motifs, and slightly crude in style.
It seems middle-to-late-20th-Century in age. It is unfortunately covered by reflective glass
-- now broken -- which makes it impossible to properly photograph it. Also, the wooden
doors protecting it, although with no paper on them, seemed to be continuously locked.
At the foot of the stairway to the Sanshin-gak, at the edge of the big grassy field to the east of
the gate, is the Jo-ryeong Yaksu-teo. This is an outlet of pure granite-filtered mineral water,
once available to refresh the soldiers who guarded at the gate and now for the many hikers.
|The gate itself is made entirely of cut granite blocks, but has a raised wooden watchtower with
a traditional tiled roof (with sign-board) built above it, like all traditional Korean city gates.