Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Korean Bell

On top of a hill above the cliffs in San Pedro you'll find The Korean Bell. This bell is a very integral part of my visual life story. My pre-school walked to a park right beside this bell. I lived only a block from the bell for many years. Later, my girlfriend Katie and I pretended to be married and took our 'wedding pictures' by this bell (we were 21, too). This giant, beautiful structure has stood silently beside me my whole life. I love going back to it, as I'm always reminded of how beautiful it is up close.

For those of you wondering, I found some legitimate facts about the bell:
"This massive and intricately-decorated bell and pavilion was donated in 1976 to the people of Los Angeles by the people of the Republic of Korea to celebrate the bicentennial of the U.S. independence, honor veterans of the Korean War, and to consolidate traditional friendship between the two countries. The bell is patterned after the Bronze Bell of King Songdok, which was cast in 771 A.D. and is still on view in South Korea today.
The bell was cast in Korea and shipped to the United States. Weighing 17 tons, with a height of twelve feet and a diameter of 7-1/2 feet, the bell is made of copper and tin, with gold, nickel, lead and phosphorous added for tone quality. When it was built, it cost the Korean people $500,000. Four pairs of figures, each pair consisting of the Goddess of Liberty holding a torch, and a Korean spirit , are engraved in relief on the body of the bell. Each of the Korean spirits holds up a different symbol: a symbolic design of the Korean flag; a branch of the rose of Sharon, Korea's national flower; a branch of laurel, symbol of victory; and a dove of peace. The bell has no clapper but is struck from the outside with a wooden log.
The bell is set in a pagoda-like stone structure which was constructed on the site by thirty craftsmen flown in from Korea. It took them ten months and costs $569,680. The pavilion is supported by twelve columns representing the twelve designs of the Oriental zodiac. Animals stand guard at the base of each column.
Resting peacefully on the knoll overlooking the sea gate from which U.S. troops sailed into the Pacific, the bell site affords an unsurpassed view of the Los Angeles harbor, the Catalina Channel and the sea terraces of San Pedro hill. The bell is rung only four times each year: the Fourth of July, August 15 (Korean Independence Day) and New Year's Eve, and every September to coincide with bell ringings around the country to celebrate Constitution week." -

Here are the view from the bell looking outward.

And just paces from the bell I can photograph the street I lived on for many years. Notice the ocean and lighthouse behind the palm trees. I really did grow up surrounded by the water.

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