The Koreans have always worried about invasion from their nearby neighbours, even to the extent that when King Munmu died, he requested that his body posthumously be buried underwater and pleged to return as a dragon and protect Korea from the Japanese. His son complied and buried him by a tiny island near the Gyeongju coastline. A nearby temple and pavilion offer the dragon deity a resting spot and a private subterranean entrance from the water. Whether the king returned as a dragon is debatable since history shows the Japanese invaded Korea many times. Today, the site draws beachgoers in summer and tourists year round, who walk the shore and often stop in for fish at the local restaurants.
A rocky island in form, about two hundred meters overall in size, while being divided by an almost X like waterway, forming a pool at the centre. The tomb is located at Bonggil-ri in Gyeongju.When tourists and locals alike are off taking in the sights around Gyeongju, they usually seek out well known attractions mainly in the areas around Bulguksa temple, Namsan mountain, downtown Gyeongju, and Bomun Lake Resort.
Travelling around the outskirts of Gyeongju and taking the opportunity to see the city’s coastal area only highlights the gorgeousness of Korea’s east coast even more than you could possibly expect or desire. The Gyeongju sites to see on a trip to this coastal area are as follows: Kirimsa (Kirim Temple), Golgulsa (Golgul Temple), the temple site of Gameunsa, the Underwater Tomb of King Munmu and Igyeondae.
If you visit the Underwater Tomb in Autumn, you will have probably the best experience to take away from visiting the tomb itself. The Underwater Tomb of King Munmu is one of those select few attractions in Gyeongju that is free of charge, has no opening or closing time and is a 365 day a year attraction to visit. Make sure to check over at the nearby attraction of the Gameunsa Temple where the sacrificial rites were performed for King Munmu . Oh and another interesting fact to remember is that this is the only Underwater Tomb in the whole wide world.
Be forewarned, the road conditions in Gyeongju’s coastal area, the farthest outskirts of the city, are not much up to par. But if you make the effort to see the whole area, your pains will be repaid with a meaningful time. You can sense the protective spirit of King Munmu, who wished to guard the kingdom after his death by becoming a dragon, and on top of that, take in some beautiful sights on Korea’s east coast.