Gue-seok Kim / Republic of Korea
Home to the oldest steel production site in Korea, Jincheon has produced steel through smelting, tempering, and forging since the 3rd century to the 5th century. The Jincheon Bell Museum exhibits quality bells collected from home and abroad as well as Buddhist bells that were made using ancient steel production techniques.
When architect Gue-seok Kim designed the Jincheon Bell Museum, he was inspired by the Korean Buddhist bell, which makes a magnificent yet gentle sound. The architect’s intentions can be seen from the structure. First, by the museum entrance is a glass structure that is a reproduction of a Buddhist bell. When standing under it, you will hear the gentle ring of the bell arousing your curiosity towards the various other bells in the museum. The glass curtain wall on the right has a curved surface, which represents the beats created by the sound of the bells, explains the architect. In acoustics, a beat is an interference pattern between two sounds of slightly different frequencies, creating amplitude that changes regularly. Such a phenomenon is frequently found in Buddhist bells.
The first thing you see upon entering the museum is a life-sized replica of the Divine Bell of King Seongdeok, a representative Buddhist bell of Korea. Completed in 771 during the Unified Silla era, the original bell is exhibited at the Gyeongju National Museum. This grandiose replica stands 3.33 meters tall with a diameter of 2.27 meters on a two-story high space, and above the bell is a large sculpture that portrays the moment when the Buddhist Bell was taken out of the formwork after the molten metal was cast.
The Jincheon Bell Museum exhibits various types of Buddhist bells and their manufacturing process. The nine-step manufacturing process—including melting beeswax in an iron cast pot, carving design patterns, and pouring molten metal—is exhibited in the museum so that visitors can easily understand how a Buddhist bell is made.
TIP : Next to the museum sits Jucheoljang Inheritance Training Center, which teaches the bronze casting techniques of bronze casting master Kwang-sik Won (National Intangible Cultural Heritage).
The center runs various educational and activity programs related to Korea’s bell casting techniques.
Location : 1504-12 Baekgok-ro, Jincheon-eup, Jincheon-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do
Telephone : 043-539-3847~8
How to go : Taxi (5mins) from Jincheon Central Bus Terminal
Operating hours : 10:00–18:00 (Closed on Mondays, Jan 1, and Seollal & Chuseok holidays)
Admission Fees : 1,500won
Alive Jincheon Print Making Museum
Cheongju Early Printing Museum
Cheongju National Museum