Geographical Location and Population
Gangneung is situated in the eastern part of the Korean peninsula between the Baekdudaegan mountain range and the East Sea. To the east of the city lies the East Sea, to the west lies the Pyeongchang and Jeongseon counties, to the south lies Donghae city and to the north is the Yangyang County. The city covers an area of 1,040㎢ and its area accounts for 6.2% of the entire Gangwon province area(16,873㎢). Its total population is 223,499 as of 31 December 2006
The site of present Gangneung, where Yemaek tribe had lived from the ancient times, belonged to Wiman Choseon in 129 B.C. In 313, it was combined with Goguryeo and was called Haseorang or Haseulla. Then, it became a part of Shilla territory in 550, and was called Myeongju in 757.
In 1308 during the Goryeo Dynasty, it was renamed to Gangneung-bu. In the period of King Gongyang, the east coast area extending from Wonsan in the north to Uljin in the south was under the control of Gangneungdaedohobu.
In 1896, it became Gangneung-gun, containing 21 myeons in its jurisdiction. In 1955, Gangneung-eup, Seongdeok-myeon, Gyeongpo-myeon were combined and raised to the status of city, Gangneung. At the same time Gangneung-gun was separated and named as Myeongju-gun until 1994. On January 1, 1995, Gangneung city and Myeongju-gun were combined and called Integrated Gangneung city or just Gangneung city in brief.
Intangible Cultural Heritage
1. Gangneung Danoje Festival
As one of the oldest and largest traditional festivals in Korea, this festival encompasses religious rituals, traditional music, folk songs, mask drama, oral narrative poetry, and various popular pastimes. Even under the rule of Japanese Imperialism or wars, Gangneung Dano-je Festival never suspended. It rather united the people together in east coastal area of Korea and still plays important role in the re-creation and succession of the traditional value. This festival is also a place of international cultural and artistic exchange and it draws a large number of visitors from home and abroad. It was proclaimed as the Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO in 2005.
2. Gangneung Nong-ak (Farm Music)
There is no knowing of the origin of Nong-ak, farm music, but we presume that it started in the Agricultural Age. Nong-ak is a group dancing with dancers playing various musical instruments simultaneously. Dancing with a little child on a dancers shoulders is unique in Gangneung Nong-ak. Gangneung Nong-ak demonstrates the whole courses of farming of the year. It is the most outstanding characteristic of all the other Nong-aks.
Gangneung Haksanodokttegi is a folk song widely sung in Haksan area of Gangneung city. It is made up of songs of Transplanting Rice Seedlings, Weeding, Harvesting and Threshing. It is a kind of labor ballad song in the courses of farming to make working more pleasant and more efficient.