SEOUL, South Korea, Nov. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- South Korea's only Buddhist cultural festival featuring historical woodblocks "Tripitaka Koreana" came to an end on Monday, drawing more than 2 million visitors, organizers said. The 2013 Tripitaka Koreana Festival was held for 45 days in a venue near Haeinsa, or Haein Temple, in this southern county with the goal of spreading awareness of the rare 13th-century Buddhist scriptures. Hapcheon is located 354 kilometers south of Seoul. The organizers said some 2.05 million visitors came to enjoy the festival, far exceeding the original target of 1.6 million.
"Tripitaka Koreana," or "Palmandaejanggyeong" in Korean, is a collection of Buddhist scriptures hand-carved on more than 80,000 wooden printing blocks, comprising 52 million characters.
The collection is considered the most comprehensive set of Buddhist scriptures found to date. The Haein Temple, where the texts are kept, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
"Despite bad conditions such as low budget and the belated launch of the organizing committee, related officials and volunteers joined forces together to make the festival a success without a single accident," Kim I-su, the festival director, said in his speech in the closing ceremony.
The speech was made on behalf of Hong Joon-pyo, the governor of South Gyeongsang Province and chairman of the festival's organizing committee.
For the festival, the temple opened to the public eight of the wooden blocks and Maaebul, a 7.5-meter Buddha statue engraved in a rock wall in Mount Gaya.
Maaebul is one of the country's best-preserved statues, estimated to have been built in the 9th century during the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.- A.D.935), and public access to the statue is normally restricted as it is reserved for monks as a special prayer site.
"We will continue to make efforts to spread awareness to the world about the value of the 'Tripitaka Koreana,' " said Ven. Seonhae, chief monk of the Haein Temple.