Exploring Wolbongseowon Confucian Academy
Wolbongseowon Confucian Academy in Gwangsan-gu just outside of Gwangju was built in remembrance of the virtue and learning of Gobong Gi Daeseung, a leading Confucian scholar of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Wolbongseowon Confucian Academy was started with the building of Mangcheonsa Shrine after Gobong’s death, and was later moved to its current location, where it was renamed Wolbong.
Before reaching Wolbongseowon Confucian Academy, you will have to pass through Neobeusil Village, meaning “wide valley,” which was formed as a clan society of Gobong’s descendants. The path through the village is tranquil, passing over small streamlets and along a beautiful doldam stone-wall road. The stone-wall will guide you to the academy, ending at a large clearing, featuring Wolbongseowon Confucian Academy off to the left. Entering the main gate, visitors will be greeted by the main lecture hall of Bingwoldang, as well as Chilsongjeong, Aeildang Hall, and other charmingly antique buildings.
There are a variety of experiences and programs to enjoy at Wolbongseowon Confucian Academy, with the most popular being Salon de Wolbong; based on the salons of 17-18 century France, a venue for members of high society to gather, Salon de Wolbong is a modern spin on these spaces, offering a taste of the finer arts of Joseon society. Cultural concerts and lectures take place each week, with varying themes and matching music ranging from jazz to classical. After enjoying the event, there is time to sit down over a cup of tea and interact with one another.
Other well-liked programs are Dasi and The Scholar’s Day. Dasi means a time to purify ones soul over a cup of tea, and Wolbongseowon’s Eandang provides just the right atmosphere to enjoy this emotionally cleansing experience. The Scholar’s Day program includes getting a in-depth look at the life of a Confucian scholar of the Joseon Dynasty, from wearing the clothes to taking part in a memorial ritual for Gobong.
Even if you don’t take part in one of the experience programs, you can still enjoy the mood of Korea’s olden days as you walk through the academy grounds. Passing through Mangcheonmun Gate, the courtyard is flanked on both sides by Myeongseongjae and Jonseongjae, dormitories for the scholars. Beyond the dorms is the focal point and main building, Bingwoldang Hall, where the students gathered to study and discuss ideas. Behind Bingwoldang is a short flight of stairs leading to Jeonganmun Gate and Sungdeoksa Shrine, which houses the ancestral tablet of Gobong.
If you’re taking the KTX from Seoul, get off at Gwangju Songjeong Station and stroll through the nearby 1913 Songjeong Traditional Market. The street is decorated with placards explaining the history of each individual shop; gazing at all the hard work and dedication that went into making their store a success, it’s easy to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. When visiting, be sure to visit Songjeong Tteok-galbi Street as well, for a bite of Gwangju’s most famous food.
For those wishing to make a bit more out of their trip to Gwangju, hop aboard the Bitgo Namdo Tour Bus. Offering a total of three courses departing from Gwangju Songjeong Station, Course 1 travels to Wolbongseowon Confucian Academy, as well as other attractions throughout Gwangju, every weekend.
☞ Address: 133, Gwanggok-gil, Gwangsan-gu, Gwangju
☞ Directions: Take Bus No. Songjeong33 from Gwangju Songjeong Station to Heukseok-sageori Bus Stop → Cross the street and take Bus No. Imgok89 → Get off at Wolbongseowon Bus Stop and walk approx. 630m to the academy.
☞ Transportation: Seoul → Gwangju
KTX Train: Yongsan Station → Gwangju Songjeong Station (Fare 46,800 won / Travel time: approx. 1hr 50min)
Wolbongseowon Confucian Academy www.wolbong.org (Korean only)
Gwangju Tourism utour.gwangju.go.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
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