I haven’t talked about Korean stuff in a while (too busy with work and baby), but I found this interesting article by the Yonhap News Agency. This is about a festival to celebrate the Korean Buddhist Canon or Tripitaka Koreana.
The Tripitaka Koreana, or Palman Daejanggyeong (팔만 대장경/八萬 大藏經) is huge collection of wood printing-blocks, made during the years 1236 to 1251. These blocks were used to print out the entire Buddhist scripture (the Tripitaka in Sanskrit). Block-printing Buddhist scriptures was a way to generate good merit for the nation, but also to distribute Buddhist scriptures more easily and with fewer errors. In fact, according to Wikipedia, there are no errors in the text, even though there are 52,382,960 characters used. The Buddhist texts are preserved in Korean hanja or Chinese-characters used in Korean language, similar to other Asian countries (China, Japan, etc).
The Tripitaka Koreana is stored in a temple called Haeinsa (해인사/海印寺) located down in South Gyeongsang province. You can see their official website here (includes English and Japanese versions), including photos of the woodblocks.
Apparently, during the Korean War, there were some leftover North Korean soldiers around the temple grounds resisting the UN forces. The UN was ordered to bomb the temple to drive out the North Koreans, but the leader of the air force pilots there, Kim Young Hwan, refused to follow the order. Because he refused the order, the temple was not bombed, and the North Koreans were defeated anyway.
Anyhow, the festival will happen until November 10th, so if you are in Korea and have an interest in Buddhist history, definitely stop by and visit Haeinsa temple if you can. Better yet, send me some photos. 😉