A symbol of the entangled histories of the two nations, this traditional Korean bell was given to the United States in 1976 by the Republic of Korea to celebrate the U.S. bicentennial. Scenically located on a hill in San Pedro’s Angel’s Gate Park, this monument to friendship overlooks the Pacific Ocean that connects the shores of both countries.
The bell itself, crafted according to traditional Korean bell-making techniques, is massive, measuring over 7 feet tall and weighing 17 tons. It was modeled after the Bronze Bell of King Songdok, which was cast in 771 and is still on display at the in the National Museum of Gyeongju.
Around the bell’s circumference are reliefs of four pairs of goddesses, each pair symbolizing the spirits of freedom, independence, peace, and prosperity in the United States and South Korea. The personification of America is easily identifiable, as she takes the form of the Statue of Liberty. She stands side-by-side with the goddess representing South Korea, who is seen in traditional Korean woman’s dress. Both appear descending from the sky on clouds. The bell is also ornamented with reliefs of the Korean national flower, the “Rose of Sharon,” or Common Hibiscus.
The stunning pavilion containing the bell, known as the “Belfry of Friendship,” was built in a centuries-old Korean architectural style, with blue tiled roofing and painted in the distinctive dancheong aesthetic. It is supported by 12 beams, with each beam representing a sign in the Korean zodiac.
Know Before You Go
Access to the bell is free and available daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The bell is rung each year on Independence Day (July 4), National Liberation Day of Korea (August 15), New Year’s Eve (December 31), Korean-American Day (January 13), and September 17 to coincide with bell ringings around the country to celebrate Constitution Week. The bell is also rung on the first Saturday of each month at 12:15 p.m.