The legend of 에밀레종

Posted on April 6, 2012 by




Disclaimer : We do not own the above video. The video is taken from this source.

The video that you had just seen above featured one of the rarest sound of the most famous bell of the ancient city of Gyeongju (capital of Silla) called 성덕대왕신종 or 에밀레종 or Emille Bell in English.

Have you heard of the mystery surrounding this extraordinary bell?

경덕왕 King Gyeongdeok (35th Silla King from period 742 to 765 CE), a devout Buddhist, began a grand project in honor of his late father, 성덕왕 (not to be confused with 선덕여왕 Queen Seondeok, 성덕왕 King Seongdeok was the 33rd Silla King from period 702 – 737 CE). Unfortunately, he did not live to see its completion in 771 CE.

The casting was a long and difficult process that took an estimated 34 years to complete. A large amount of money was required to fund the project, hence civil officers and monks were ordered to collect donations from the public. One legend has it that when a monk went to a village,  a poor woman said to him in jest “I have nothing but my daughter to give to you”.

In the meantime, the casting failed again. The King, at his wit’s end, seek the help of a sorcerer, who advised him to sacrifice a girl, if he wished to complete the casting. Upon hearing the sorcerer’s prophecy, the monk, recalling the poor village woman’s remark, told the King about their conversation. The King ordered the girl to be captured. She was then thrown alive into the molten metal. Miraculously, the casting of the magnificent bronze bell was successfully completed.

Shortly after, when the bell was rung, it was rumored that the child’s chilling cry “에밀레, 에밀레”, which means “mother” in ancient Silla, echoed throughout the village. From then onwards, the bell was known as 에밀레종 Emille Bell.

On Sep 23rd 2004, the National Museum of Gyeongju (, announced the discontinuation of the striking of the bell in order to protect it from metal fatigue. Standing at 3.75m and weighing 18.9 tons, it was also designated a 대한민국 국보 제29호 or National Treasure of Korea no. 29.

그래서 여러분, do you know of other 대한민국 국보 Korea’s National Treasure? Can you name some of them? We wanna hear your comment.

About The Blogger


Jeulmin from Singapore. Loves Korean history, books, culture, drama, music, food and everything else in between.