Cheongju is the capital and largest city of Chungcheongbuk-do (North Chungcheong Province) in the centre of South Korea, with a population of around 840,000. It is notable for the fact that it was here that, during the Goryeo Dynasty in 1377, at the temple Heungdeoksa the world's oldest extant book with movable metal type was printed: the Jikji, a Korean Buddhist document. The Early Printing Museum in Cheongju, with a very interesting display about it, only can show a replica however: the original is in the National Library in France.
Mt. Songnisan National Park, comprising 1,058-metre high Mt. Songnisan and the valleys of Hwayang, Seonyu, and Ssanggok, in the middle of the Sobaeksanmaek Mountains, is one of Korea’s most beautiful sites, sharp granite peaks and deep valleys. Songnisan, at the very centre of South Korea, became a National Park in 1970 and has an area of 275 km².
One of Korea's largest temples, Beopjusa, on Mt. Songnisan, is a head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. It was initially built during the Silla era by a monk named Uisin. Its five-storey wooden pagoda, dating back to 553 CE, is believed to be the oldest in Korea. Next to it stands a striking 33 metre high gold plated statue of the Maitreya Buddha, the Cheongdongmireukbul: the tallest Buddha statue in the world, it was built in April 1990 using 160 tons of bronze and, in 2002, plated with 80 kilograms of pure gold.