As the suzerain state of six Gaya Kingdoms and royal capital of Geumgwan-Gaya founded in 42 A.D., Gimhae is the cradle of the Gaya culture. These small ancient states include Ara Gaya, Goryeong Gaya, Dae Gaya, Seongsan Gaya, Bihwa Gaya and Geumgwan Gaya, which formed a confederation dominated by Geumgwan Gaya. With a 500-year long history, Gaya Kingdoms created ingenious and brilliant pottery and ironware culture based on affluent iron products and outstanding iron-making technology. Taking geographical advantages, these Gaya Kingdoms actively traded with China, Japan and Nakrang as the center of international trade in Northeast Asia. Active international marine trade and exchange of these ancient states with foreign countries can be well explained by the international marriage between King Suro, the founding king of Geumgwan-Gaya, and Princess Heo Hwang-ok of Ayodhya Kingdom in India.
In an effort to preserve the Gaya culture as one of world cultural heritages and widely publicize excellence of the ancient culture, the Gimhae City government has been hosting the annual Gaya Culture Festival since 1962 on the occasion of the memorial service for King Suro in spring. As ever, the municipal government will host the 41st Gaya Culture Festival for 5 days from April 7th to 11th, 2017 to include the memorial service for the King set to be held on the last day of the Festival. With the concept of ‘Gaya in the World and United Gimhae’, the Festival will be highlighted by the ‘tug-of-war’ game and ‘procession parade of King Suro’.
Colorful programs will be provided during the Festival at the Daeseong-dong Ancient Tombs, Gimhae National Museum and Tomb of King Suro. In addition to the tug-of-war game and king’s procession parade, programs will include folk art performances, experiences of ancient ironworks, voyage routes sailed by King Suro and Princess Heo Hwang-ok, excavation of historical relics and riding on rare horses, as well as art installation events, performance of martial arts on horseback, wish lamps with Gaya patterns, and multi-cultural social gatherings of youths. Among others, visitors will have an exotic experience of boarding a traditional Indian boat ‘Dhoni’ by sailing the voyage routes taken by King Suro and Queen Heo.
In connection with the Festival, a number of other events will also be held simultaneously, including a local foods fair, international conference on Gaya history, contest of native foods, and folk arts festival of Gyeongsangnam-do region. The regional folk arts festival will include performances of intangible cultural property holders and performances of traditional art troupes from sister cities in Korea and other countries.
To help visitors have more enjoyable and exciting experiences, the festival organizing committee will deploy advanced information and communication technology installations in the venue. Using their smart phones or tablet PCs, visitors and tourists can get access to detailed information, statistical data, publicity materials and results of survey on the Festival by searching its QR code at information centers. It will also introduce an augmented reality (AR) game ‘Royal Capital of Gaya GO’, similar to ‘PocketMon Go’ game. If any visitors find out various historical treasures or relics through the game, they will be rewarded with due gifts.
The 40th Gaya Culture Festival held in April last year attracted as many as over 1.45 million visitors from Korea and other countries, and the Festival in this year is expected to attract even more visitors thanks to addition of varied new programs. The Gimhae City government seeks to register these cultural heritages as UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritages.