Location: Gyeongju, South Korea
Background and Opinion:
The Historical City of Gyeongju is a nice city, with historical sites that include the oldest observatory in Asia, an ancient ice storage, Shilla tombs, and Buddhist temples. It is one of the best places to go to if you like Korean history. With that said, it also suffers from being possibly the most overrated place in South Korea. While it’s definitely worth seeing, it’s revered as a very beautiful ancient city with ancient Shilla (the old Korean Kingdom) buildings. In reality, besides the artifacts I just mentioned, it’s just like any other Korean town. In addition, sites like the Anapji Pond are not original as they have been destroyed in past Japanese invasions.
Gyeongju was founded around the first century BC. When it unified the three major kingdoms on the Korean peninsula, it became the first, truly unified Korean state (The Shilla Kingdom) which continued to prosper well into 1000 AD. The ruling clan at the time was named “Park” (박), the source of that surname. The “Silla Kim” clan was also very powerful, which accounts for 1/3 of all people with the surname “Kim” (김) (currently distinguished as “Gyeongju Kim”).