Korea-Kazakhstan Friendship Garden, sign of eternal amity

By Korea.net Honorary Reporter Aigerim Sadykova
Photos∙Video: Aigerim Sadykova
Nothing happens by chance. In 2016, I accidentally had the pleasure of meeting a Korean architect. That summer my Korean language skills were very poor. In spite of this, I wanted to know what was he doing in Astana. We didn’t speak much, as I only knew a few Korean words. However, later it was clear that he came to Kazakhstan to design the Korea-Kazakhstan Friendship Garden. Frankly speaking, it was news to me and ever since that time, I’ve been keeping an eye on this project. 
Last year I met with a Korean architect. A few days ago, on Sept. 27, 2017, the opening ceremony for the new friendship garden took place. It certainly shows that life is an interesting thing.
News came out that the mayor of Astana was thankful for a gift from Korea, and that the ambassador from Korea in Kazakhstan was going to attend the ceremony. There were photos from the event, too.
I intentionally avoided any pictures on social media so as not to see any visual spoilers.
It took me half an hour to find the friendship garden in the large park. There are trees, benches, a skate park and nothing with any Korean cultural elements. I checked the clock. It was already 5 p.m. I was still searching. Suddenly, a bell sounded. It was a vibrating and clearing sound. I wondered if someone rang the bell each hour. This was, again, just happenstance.
Finally, I came to the right place.
The entrance to the garden begins at the Gate of Youth. According to Korean traditions, every pass through a door makes a person younger by one year. For me, the gate was a kind of portal. It was time travel to another era, teleporting me to Korea. Only the weather and the greenery around us belonged to Astana, with its cold winters and strong winds.
The first thing I thought when I saw the Gate of Youth was, “Just like in Korea.” I remembered the image of Gyeongbokgung Palace, which I visited in 2013.
My walk took me through arches, Korean walls, a mirror pond and by fountains. In other words, all these new “portals” occupied a total area of 1.2 hectares. Just imagine how it would be beautiful in the spring and summer: true beauty! Flowers would blossom everywhere, and it would be a magical place for families, young couples and walkers who could take beautiful pictures.
“It seems that we’re being introduced to elements of Korean architecture. As far as I know, there is no such garden in Almaty,” said one person I met.
By the way, I’ve always admired the architecture of Korea. Especially the curved roofs with tiles, which I had never seen until my journey to Korea. A lot of large palaces and temples remain from Joseon times. The dominant architectural style of the Joseon period was intercolumnar brackets.

The main item in the garden is the Bell Tower of Friendship. In Korea, the beginning and end of the year are accompanies by the sound of a bell. The ringing of the bell started work at the garden.
The design of a Korean bell is different from a Japanese or Chinese bell, and it provides a more complete and lasting sound. Ancient Koreans created the world’s largest bell in the A.D. 700s, the Sacred Bell of Great King Seongdeok. In terms of creating a vibrant sound, I’ve never found an equal, and korean bells may have saved many human souls.
I recorded the sound from the belltower. Please enjoy the video below and be prepared to feel strong and fresh energy from the sonorous bell ringing.
This year marks 25 years of diplomatic ties between Seoul and Astana. During the opening ceremony, Ambassador from the Republic of Korea in Kazakhstan Kim Dae-Sik read his own poem about the new symbol of friendship between the two states.

Ambassador Kim Dae-Sik (center), Director of Korean Cultural Centre Lee Hyeran and dancers from the Misone ensemble pose for a photo.