Korean Friendship Bell and Family History
A visit to the Korean Friendship Bell at San Pedro’s Angels Gate Park offers near panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Lovers walk hand in hand, skateboards roll along concrete walkways in disregard to no skateboarding signs, and kites soar in the ocean breeze. In the distance, the mariachi music from Ports O’ Call continued as a band of sharply dressed men shot a video in the grassy knoll with Catalina Island and a beautiful, blue sky as their backdrop. Needless to say, my Sunday afternoon was well spent.
Upon entering the path to the bell, two totem pole figures, a man and a woman, greet me with open-mouthed grins. I can almost hear their chortles, desiring to be in on the joke. Instantly intrigued at their history, I later learn that Korean totem poles are known as jangseung. They were typically used to ward off demons. Unfortunately, there isn’t much of an explanation for these jangseung at the actual park. I had to do my own digging and research later.
The bell itself is grand – the pagoda that houses it, equally as impressive. After posting a photo of its colorful and intricate design, my auntie wondered whether or not I was still in California. I can understand why.
Donated to the people of Los Angeles in 1976 to celebrate the bicentennial of U.S. independence and to honor Korean War veterans, the bell symbolizes friendship between the U.S. and The Republic of Korea. My late grandfather was a Korean War veteran. He often spoke very highly of the Korean people and the time he spent in that region of the world. He and my grandmother almost named their first-born son after the boy in this photo, Kim. They ultimately decided that having such a different, oftentimes female name wouldn’t be in his best social interest. Hey, at least they weren’t planning on naming him after an inanimate object, also known as a piece of fruit, also known as a grape or an apple or a, well, you get the picture…
Ringing of the Korean Friendship Bell
They ring the Korean Friendship bell four times a year. I intend on being present for one of these moments in the near future.
- Fourth of July
- Korean Independence Day (August 15th)
- New Year’s Eve
- During Constitution Week (Sept. 17-23) in accordance with other bell ringings around the U.S.