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Korean Tech Time Machine: Ultimate Rewind

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Korean Tech Time Machine: Ultimate Rewind

Here at Advanced Technology Korea, we usually talk about the latest technology.

But what if we took a big step back? Thousands of years or so? During the three Kingdoms period, Koreans were highly interested in astronomy as well as agriculture, which can be seen through constellations in mural paintings and records of solar eclipses. By this time, weapons, Korean traditional paper making and construction technology had reached very high levels.

Here's a look at some tech and design from Korea's ancient history.

Who's going to do all heavy lifting?

Chung Yak-yong (1762-1836) is one of the most renowned scholars in Korean history. He was well-studied in a wide variety of academic fields, including philosophy, poetry, science and economics. One of his most famous accomplishments happened while he designed and supervised the building of the stone fortress in Hwaseong in what is known today as Suwon in the Gyeonggi Province. During this time, he invented a special type of crane (called Kojunggi) that was capable of lifting heavy stones easily. The fortress still stands in Suwon and has been designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.

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Korean traditional paper, or "Hanji", is made from the bark of mulberry trees known as "dak", which are native to Korea. For more than 1,600 years, it has played a key role in the daily lives of Koreans. It's acid free and lasts longer than any other type of paper. Due to its durability and strong insulating properties, Korean traditional paper was used for everything from official government records to wallpaper and to the floors of houses and coffins. It is said that hanji can be preserved for some 1,000 years.

A testament to hanji can be found through the discovery of Mu-gu-jeong-gwang Dae-da-ra-ni-gyeong, which is literally translated as the Great Dharani Sutra of Immaculate of Pure Light in 1996. When it was exposed to the sun after remaining hidden in a casket for more than 1,200 years, it was found to be perfectly intact.

Photo Credit: Craft Museum

Have an uncle that can't seem to stay away from the party punch during Christmas parties? Now you'll know what to get him.

The "Greedy Cup", or "kye young bae", is a cup that follows a philosophy of "7 out of 10", to practice moderation and humility. The cup is made so that when a drinker fills the cup more than 70 percent, the cup automatically spills its contents out of the bottom, symbolically warning against human greed. These types of cups were most often used for alcohol or tea.

The Turtle Ship, or "Geobuskeon", was the world's first ironclad warship. It was built under the leadership of Admiral Yi Sun-sin, around 1590. The iron plates on the galley of the ship protected the rowers and kept many Japanese warships and other enemies at bay.

Photo Credit: english.yi-sunsin.com

Honcheonsige, an astronomical instrument and clock, was invented by astronomer Song I-yeong in 1669 during King Hyunjong's rule in the Choseon Dynasty. It was comprised of a clock mechanism and celestial globe. Its sphere has a diameter of 40 cm and was activated by a working clock mechanism, which showed the position of the universe at any given time.

The Cheugugi is the world's oldest scientific rainfall gauge. It was invented in 1441. It's made of three parts: a cylindrical iron/bronze-cast main body, a stone mount and a ruler to measure the depth of rainwater collected in the main body. It allowed precise measurements of rainfall to be taken all around the country for over 400 years, detailing the month, location, time of day and type of rain.

Photo Credit: London Korean Links

About the authorby Donna Choi

Born and raised in the States, I came to Seoul in 2009 and have loved living and working in such a high-tech and connected city ever since. I enjoy collecting unique, cute gadgets/items (I have a bread-scented smartphone case!) and traveling around Korea. My personal mission while living in Korea: Try every type of Korean food known to exist.

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