Goryeo fire signal beacon damaged in wildfire
500-year-old juniper trees, rare pine tree safe for now
Published : Mar 6, 2022 - 15:46
Updated : Mar 6, 2022 - 18:48
Eodalsan Bongsudae, a historical fire signal beacon located on the peak of the mountain Eodalsan (CHA)
Following the wildfire damage of Eodalsan Bongsudae, a coastal fire signaling beacon from the Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392), on-site teams are on high alert and in full operation to save cultural assets throughout Gangwon and North Gyeongsang provinces from the fire, according to the Cultural Heritage Administration on Sunday. 

“Since the beacon is built with stones, the scale of damage and the degree of cracks need to be further investigated,” the head of the emergency dispatch team at the CHA told The Korea Herald on Sunday morning. The relevant departments of the cultural properties agency have been working on the ground since Friday, according to the official who spoke via phone from Uljin, North Gyeongsang Province. 

The fire, which was first spotted near a two-lane road adjacent to a mountain in Uljin, North Gyeongsang Province, early Friday morning, quickly spread north to Samcheok, Gangwon Province, within a matter of hours, fanned by the strong winds and dry weather conditions, according to the Korea Forest Service. 

Located at the peak of the mountain Eodalsan between Mangsang Beach and Mukhohang Port in Donghae, the Eodalsan Bongsudae, measuring 9 meters in diameter and 2 meters in height, was in use through the Joseon era. The beacon is a Gangwon Province-designated cultural property.

“Fortunately, for other cultural properties, the fire engines arrived on time and managed to extinguish the fire just a hundred meters away,” the official said. 

Field teams worked to remove embers overnight, which often reignite when covered under piles of dry leaves, according to the official.

Meanwhile, several natural monuments including two juniper trees, both estimated to be over 500 years old, and a rare golden pine tree, a designated monument of North Gyeongsang Province, were also under threat by the raging fire. The trees were reported to be safe as of Sunday, but many others are still being closely watched.

Red Certificate issued to Jang Yang-su in 1205 (CHA)
Some of the national treasures located near Uljin’s woodlands include Bongpyeong Silla Stele and the Red Certificate issued to Jang Yang-su.

The Red Certificate, state-designated National Treasure No. 181, which was kept at Uljin’s Wolgye Seowon Confucian Academy, was evacuated to the Bongpyeong Silla Stele Exhibition Hall’s storage facility on Saturday afternoon, according to the CHA. 

Measuring 93.5 centimeters wide and 45.2 centimeters long, the certificate was given to Jang for passing the primary civil examination in 1205, the first year of King Huijong of the Goryeo Kingdom. Jang would go on to serve on a policy advisory board to the king and at the Ministry of Personnel Affairs. The Red Certificate is the oldest surviving document for a government recruitment exam.
Workers cover cultural assets with fire blankets at the temple Buryeongsa’s Daeungbojeon. (CHA)
“As of 10 a.m., we have finished sprinkling water around all cultural properties within potential reach of the fire,” the CHA official in Uljin said. 

“One cultural property that the public may be unaware of is Buryeongsa temple‘s Daeungbojeon hall. We have front-line forces, including helicopters, ready on site, and staff on standby to report any fire.”

The wildfire had burned 14,222 hectares across Samcheok and Uljin as of 11 a.m, Sunday. 

By Kim Hae-yeon (