TAEJON - Late in 2001, the Royal Bellfoundry 'Petit & Fritsen' of Aarle-Rixtel (Netherlands) delivered a new carillon of 77 bells to Hyechon College in Taejon. This South Korean city is located in Chungchong Province, about 200 km south of the capital, Seoul. With a population of 1.3 million, Taejon is the fifth largest city in South Korea. The bourdon pitch, the 78th bell, is low E-flat.

The campus of Hyechon College is situated on the outskirts of the city, which is already the site of numerous rice paddies and ginseng fields. The College is not a university, but rather a training institute that may best be compared with the HBO-training (upper level high school) in The Netherlands. This institute started 62 years ago as a nurses' training center, on the basis of Korean traditions and Christian principles. The church plays an important role in the curriculum of the college and church attendance for students is mandatory.

Together, the specially constructed, freestanding tower and its carillon comprise a memorial monument to the mother of the donor, Mr. Byung-Ik Lee. In that the dedicatee died at age 78, the tower is 78 meters high and houses 78 bells.

Upon the advice from several advisors, Mr. Lee, an entrepreneur in the confectionery industry, choose a tower design derived from the carillon tower of Stanford University in California (USA). In actual fact, the new tower is simply an enlarged copy of the Hoover Tower at Stanford: a large octagon set atop a rectangular shaft, with a round cupola dome placed on top of the octagon.

Several rooms have been built around the base of the tower: a regal entrance, an auditorium, a practice room with an electronic practice clavier and a programming station for the automatic playing mechanism. The tower is equipped with an elevator, with various attic spaces used for diverse purposes, primarily as museum space. Intermediate floor levels in the tower will probably be used for music library facilities.

The largest bells of the carillon are suspended around a glass playing cabin, built in the center of the belfry floor. The largest bell in the tower is a low E-flat, weighing almost 11,000 kg (about 24,000 lbs.) and is the largest bell ever cast in Aarle-Rixtel. Unfortunately, this bell is only used for the hour-strike. The remaining 77 bells are coupled to the American standard clavier as C1 - D1 - chromatic to f7.

On May 10, 2002, Arie Abbenes, carillonneur of Utrecht, Asten and Eindhoven, inaugurated the carillon amid much sacred and secular ceremony. According to reports, it is a very beautiful instrument, which despite its low transposition is very easy to play. Compensating springs were not used in the installation.