Architecture

Cliffside Hermitage Hangs on a Copper Pillar

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There is a hermitage hanging on the edge of a precipice in Manphok Valley of Mt Kumgang, one of the celebrated mountains of Korea.

It draws the admiration of the viewers for the architectural design of making a copper pillar prop up the building that stands against the edge of a cliff.

It is Podok Hermitage, which was built in the period of Koguryo Kingdom (277 BC-AD 668) and rebuilt in 1675 during the feudal Joson dynasty.

The single-room building supported by a copper pillar seems to be hanging in the middle of a 20-odd-metre-high rocky cliff, and is noted for its rarity and singularity in style among ancient buildings of Korea.

Though the structure wholly rests on a single pillar, it has remained intact for centuries.

The single-storeyed structure looks like a three-storey one from outside as it has three layers of different roofs.

Ri Je Hyon, a Koryo dynasty poet in the late 14th century, saw the hermitage and recited a poem which partly goes, “As I look upward at the precipice leaning on the cane, I can see the hip that seems to be flying over the clouds and trees.”

The main building is linked with Podok Cave at the back.

The name of the natural cave is derived from the name of a tender-hearted woman who is said to have attended to her widowed father in the cave.

By the stream of Manphok Valley below the cave there are a spring site which is said to be the place where Podok washed her hair and a rock nearby where she is said to have hanged her towel after washing.

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