Saturday, October 4, 2008

No. 187 - Korean Bell and Belfry of Friendship

Korean Bell and Belfry of Friendship

Korean Bell and Belfry of Friendship
1976 – Kim Se-jung
Angels Gate Park, Gaffey and 37th Streets, San Pedro – map
Declared: 5/3/78

Weighing nearly 18 ¾ tons, this twelve-foot tall bell was a gift of the South Korean government to commemorate the United States’ bicentennial. And not only did South Korea give us the bell, the country also sent over about three dozen workers to build the striking pavilion in which the bell rests today. First, Taekwondo, then this.

Korean Bell and Belfry of Friendship
Korean Bell and Belfry of Friendship

Kim Se-jung designed the San Pedro landmark, known as the Friendship Bell, as a replica of the Divine Bell of King Songdok the Great (the 33rd king of Shilla, remember?). (That big bell, also known as the Emilie Bell or the Pongdoksa Bell, was built in A.D.771 and is today situated on the grounds of the Kyongju National Museum.)

Korean Bell and Belfry of Friendship
Korean Bell and Belfry of Friendship
Bell of Friendship

Our Los Angeles bell is an alloy of tin, copper, gold, and silver, with a pinch of phosphorous, but, unlike the 1,237-year-old Korean version, our bell lacks baby. The bell’s rim, almost twenty-four-feet in circumference, is banded by Korea’s national flower, the Rose of Sharon, which really isn’t even a rose if you want to know the truth. To mark the friendship of the two countries, four sets of two figures – the Goddess of Liberty and a Korean spirit – are also engraved on the bell. While the four goddesses are holding torches, the spirits are bearing the Korean flag, the Rose of Sharon, a laurel branch, and a dove of peace.

Korean Bell and Belfry of Friendship
Korean Bell and Belfry of Friendship

When the thirty-five Korean stonemasons (suk kongs), tile-setters (wha kongs), and carpenters came over from Seoul to work on the belfry, they brought with them 435 tons of stone, traditional blue tile, and other materials. Living in a pair of Fort MacArthur army barracks, the crew wound up working twelve to fourteen hours a day to finish up by dedication day.

The tanch’ong-styled bell pavilion is supported by a dozen columns, representing the twelve signs of the Oriental zodiac.

Korean Bell and Belfry of Friendship
Korean Bell and Belfry of Friendship

Located in Angels Gate Park on Fort MacArthur’s old Upper Reservation, the Friendship Bell is rung four times a year: July 4th; August 15th (Korean Independence Day); New Year's Eve; and sometime in September to celebrate Constitution week. Rather than being struck with a clapper, the Friendship Bell is rung with this wooden log:

Korean Bell and Belfry of Friendship
Korean Bell and Belfry of Friendship

The bell and belfry have got to be one of the youngest – if not the youngest – L.A. Historic-Cultural Monuments, having been declared an official landmark just nineteen months after its dedication on October 3, 1976.

Korean Bell and Belfry of Friendship
Korean Bell and Belfry of Friendship
Korean Friendship Bell Information Center
The Korean Friendship Bell Information Center

When you visit HCM No. 187, right next to the Pacific Ocean, make sure you pop in the Korean Friendship Bell Information Center (above), also in Angels Gate Park.

Finally, the IMDb.com says you can see the Friendship Bell in 1995’s The Usual Suspects. I haven’t seen the movie since it came out, probably, so I don’t remember.

Korean Bell and Belfry of Friendship

Source:

Hillinger, Charles “West Coast ‘Liberty Bell’” The Los Angeles Times Sep 16, 1976, p. C1


Up next: U.S.S. Los Angeles Naval Monument

5 comments:

gc said...

I've actually seen this monument in person. It is truly spectacular. On clear days, it's a great spot for lovely views of the port and Catalina. I appreciate knowing more of the history, including all the labor it took to get the thing built. Thanks, Floyd.

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

No, thank you, GC.

Anonymous said...

omg....one of my favorite spots in the los angeles area. it also looks majestic when its foggy.. i just found this blog, and fell in love it...i admit it, im a los angeles nerd.

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

I agree, it is a great spot. And I'm glad you found the blog, Anonymous.

canfield29 said...

Having attended the dedication of the Korean bell in 1976, due to the fact that my daughters' who were teens and in the 4H -helped usher at this event, I heard our then Mayor Tom Bradley open his remarks by thanking the Republic of China for the bell -woops; quickly he corrected himself and stated "Republic of Korea!"