After the construction of the splendid Yangdok Hot Spring Resort more and more people are eager to know about Korea’s long history of using hot spring.
The Pyongyang Times reporter Ri Sung Ik has recently interviewed Kong Myong Song, director of the Folklore Research Institute of the Academy of Social Sciences, about it.
Would you tell me when hot spring began to be used in our country?
The use of hot spring dates back to thousands of years. Samguksagi (Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms) says that during the reign of King Sochon of Koguryo Kingdom the younger brothers of the king recreated themselves in a hot spring on the plea of an illness, King Onjo of Paekje Kingdom saw to it that a castle was built to settle people in an area called Thangjong in the meaning that it has hot spring, and kings of Silla Kingdom went to Tongnae Hot Spring for their health.
Hot spring bath got brisker in the period of Koryo and many people enjoyed it, which is closely reflected on the poetical works in those days.
With the public interest in hot spring growing more in the period of the feudal Joson dynasty, the survey of distribution of hot springs was conducted on a nationwide scale. The curing efficacy of different hot springs was newly known and hot spring-based treatment methods were widely researched.
What is the characteristic features of using hot springs in our country?
The Korean people have set it as the main treatment method to have a hot bath in the water of hot spring since olden times.
There were a lot of books introducing the treatment methods that rely on hot spring, including the directions for going into and out of hot spring, treatment time and frequency and diet in the treatment period.
So many tales about hot spring have been relayed, I think.
Yes, there are lots of legends related to hot spring.
A typical example is the legend of Talchon (Jongdal) Hot Spring in Talchon-ri of Samchon County, South Hwanghae Province.
According to the legend, the area near the hot spring was muddy.
One summer day, a lark with broken legs fell on the muddy land. The bird tried to fly up as it kept flapping the wings for a few days, but in vain.
Strangely, however, it could soar into the air with the cured legs after a while.
When villagers visited the place, hot water was gushing out from underground.
Since then, the hot spring has been called Jongdal (lark) from the fact that the hot spring cured the broken legs of lark.