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Donations help Korean bell toll again in U.S.

A traditional Korean bell gifted to America has been rung for the first time since a fund-raising effort started to save the cultural relic.

The Korean Friendship Bell at the Angels Gate Park in San Pedro, California was rung on its 35th anniversary on Saturday, following recent restoration work paid for by a preservation committee.

The 17-ton bell, modeled on the one originally cast for Bongdeok Temple in 771, is made of bronze and is among the largest bells in the world. It was gifted to the U.S. in 1976 by the Republic of Korea and has sat in a pavilion at the Korean-American Peace Park to be rung on special occasions ever since, but had recently fallen into disrepair due to age and exposure to the elements.
San Pedro’s Korea Friendship Bell
San Pedro’s Korea Friendship Bell

The bell was rung 33 times, signifying the universal hope for peace and harmony worldwide.

“This celebration carries a special meaning because the links holding the bell were recently replaced, and the bell can be rung physically for the first time after nearly a year of sitting on a platform in silence,” said Ernest Lee of the Korean Friendship Bell Preservation Committee, which is raising $120,000 to fully restore the bell to its former glory.

A group performance of Korea’s traditional percussion music “Samulnori” and Korean brush painter Kwon Yong-seop’s live painting were enjoyed at the event.