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Legend has it that a seer predicted that the perfect bell could be made if a child who was pure and free from this corrupt world was thrown into the molten metal in the furnace before casting. The king's ministers could not figure out how to find such a child. It so happened that a monk, who was collecting money for the bell, went to the house of a poor woman, asking for a donation.
The woman said she was so poor that she had nothing to offer to the temple. What she had, she said, was only her little child. She joked that if the monk wanted the child, he could have her. The monk laughed at the joke and went away.
The monk returned to his temple and recounted to his temple the story of the poor woman joking about giving her child as an offering. When this story reached the ears of the government officials, they couldn't believe their good fortune. That very night, they rode on horseback to the poor woman's house and demanded the child
The woman protested that she was only joking when she told the monk that she would give her child as an offering. But the officials told her such an offer was not a joke. A promise is a promise, they said. They kidnapped the screaming child from the arms of her distraught mother and took the child to the palace.
Now, everything was all set for the casting of the bell. When the officials tried to put the little girl into the hot liquid metal in the furnace, she kicked and screamed. But they threw that unfortunate little child into the red hot furnace. Her screams of terror shattered the air. And then silence fell as her little body melted.
Finally, the bell was cast, and the time came to test the sound. The king, his ministers and the monks all waited with bated breath at Pongdok temple. When the bell was hit, a soft and clear sound filled the air. The sound swelled until something distinct could be heard. It was the unmistakable eerie wailing of a child calling her mother: "Emille, Emille, Emille."
Updated May 3, 2004
In observing Gyeongju from a distance, probably the most distinctive feature is the huge tombs that seem to pop up from between the houses. The tombs of those who lived over 1,000 years ago and contemporary citizens share the same space, as it where, giving city a mysterious aura of having conquered both time and space.
Written May 3, 2004
It is recommended not to climb these tumuli, however there is a well worn path leading to a dramaticly standing tree on the north eastern side of the Bonghwadae.
Updated Jun 21, 2004