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Andong the place of Nature and Ascetic training, with living Confucianism

Issue 7
Andong the place of Nature and Ascetic training, with living Confucianism

Moon H.Suk -Iov- S. Korea

2 . Filial piety is the center of the Confucian value in Andong Confucianism in Andong has even more advanced power than that of China which is the origin of Confucianism. It emphasizes the filial piety over patriotism between the two major ideologies. This is a familial ideology that is different from that of China and Japan. It stresses the cultural spontaneity in individual level. The emphasis on the spontaneous and creative perspective will lead each individual to ascetic practice of nature and human, seclusion and selfsufficiency.

3. The world’s best philosophical value blooming with spontaneity Andong culture that aims to the Confucian value revolving around filial piety has made it possible to develop the folk culture with the emphasis on a family unit rather than the developed culture by the national power. While other prominent world-cultures have been developed and sustained by the national power, Andong culture has formed as a historical cultural sphere by forming self-sufficiency as respecting individual value. Currently, Andong is widely known as “Andong Cultural Area” that is used in academic terminology. The nature of Andong is well expressed in the philosophical publications published in Andong area. Generally, the world greatest philosophical values such as Buddhism, Christianity, and Confucianism are examined. Amongst them, Confucianism was newly developed by Joo-ja, a Chinese scholar in the 12th century, and was at the highest of its prosperity by T’oegye, a Korean scholar. T’oegye is a scholar from Andong in the 16th century. Afterward, Confucianism has constantly developed by the disciples of T’oegye, and the theory has been written and discussed by hundreds of individuals and clans by the 18th-19th century. That is to say, hundreds of the world greatest philosophical publications have been published in Andong area, and they have been discussed and debated with each characteristic. This was certainly not by the national power. Rather, the national power of Korea at that time excluded Andong area so that Andong culture has developed among the assimilation with the nature and cultivated its philosophical value by itself.

4. Natural philosophical world embodied by the various circumstances of life The characteristic of such Andong culture is that natural conditions are substituted to the philosophical world. Natural places such as rivers and mountains have been understood as training fields for study and people have resided in the nature. By living in the nature, they have attempted to understand the spontaneity. This means that they are more interested in self-sufficiency rather than social fame and wealth. Accordingly, nature and self are not necessarily identical, but they are believed to be partitioned and inseparable beings each other. For this reason, architectures such as pavilions and towers that include Confucian practices have been built in the nature or secluded spaces, and the Confucian values have been practiced by ascetic life within the places. According to the record, there are more than 400 established pavilions in Andong and the number of existing ones in the area is more than 250.

5. “Scholar” with life in seclusion The understanding of nature is the philosophy of life according to the Confucian view. As the water flows, one tries to have secluded life within the nature rather than bound to social desires. As a result, in Andong, the people who worry about their secluded life rather than people who achieve social wealth and fame have considered as important figures. “Seonbi” that represents the scholar image of Korea is the human view that is established based on Andong culture. Seonbis firmly fight against social injustice and crisis when Korea was colonized by Japan, Andong Seonbis resisted the most - but they contemplate their life in nature when the nation is in peace. They are the people who devote their effort to the friends interchanging values such as mountains and rivers around, and own home and family.

6. Living Confucian religious service, and honorable treatment to ancient sages Currently, Confucian religious service is conducted in numerous places in Andong. Since the service is held in too many places, it is difficult to estimate the exact number of places. In some places, hundreds of people wear the traditional Korean costume and gather in one place for the religious service to ancestors. The Confucian value is based on human beings; therefore, a human is expected to aim the value and live accordingly. Therefore, the religious service in Confucianism is the second important value followed by Confucian learning. That many Confucian religious services are held in Andong tells us Andong still adopts the Confucian lifestyle to daily life and maintains the healthy conditions.

7. Learning center where discussion and study are familiarized in daily life Confucianism emphasizes learning in order to sustain the beauty of humans. Therefore, in Andong area, there are various educational institutions, “Seowon”, lecture halls, in particular “Seowon”, a private educational institution, is established with the capital gathered by the constituents of the district. The number of existing “Seowon” in Andong is 33. Considering the destroyed Seowons during the colonial period in pre-modern period, there were many Andong Seowons performing as important educational institutions. In addition, other educational institutions such as Confucian temples “Hyang-gyo”, village schoolhouses “Seodang”, and “Mun-hoei” were operated in Andong. In Korean historical publications, Andong is commonly recorded as “the place where the voice of learning continues.”

8. Center of cultural inheritance Andong culture based on such Confucian philosophical world-view has produced both tangible and intangible nutritious cultural elements in terms of academic aspects and self-cultivation. Therefore, Andong retains the most cultural inheritances in Korea. Especially, it retains more than 100,000 engraving blocks relating to Confucian culture and it also preserves many other cultural inheritances that have cultural meanings: books, ancient architectures, gravestones, paintings, hanging boards, ordinary materials, and letters to name a few.

9. The only place with living Confucian ceremony in the world In 2004, the Confucian shrine in Gokbu in China, the initiator of Confucianism, visited the Confucian scholars in Andong district. The purpose of the visit was to inherit Confucian ceremony because the ceremony was prohibited in the Confucian shrine. In Andong, other various Confucian ceremonies as follows are still performed: “Hyang-eum-ju-rye”, a ceremony to serve wine to guests; “Kwan-rye” and “Gye-rye”, an adulthood ceremony for men and women, respectively “Hyang-sa-rye”, a ceremony to improve one’s mind by drawing bows; “Hyang-rye”, a ceremony held in every lecture hall; and “Da-rye”, a ceremony to memorialize virtuous sages.

10. Vernacular features that highly value intangible rather than tangible assets Andong has vernacular feature in culture to value intangible assets as well as tangible assets. That is, the value of spirit is considered importantly. Therefore, Andong is called “the center of spirit of Korean culture.” It is a small city with the population of less than 170 thousand; however, it leads the value of spirit of Korea and performs as a center of world Confucian culture. In addition to the spirit culture, the following various games that includes the aesthetics of human nature are transmitted from generation to generation: “Chajeon game”, a worldwide game for men held at the opening ceremony of the Hanover Expo; “Game to step on brass legs”, a game for women that shows elegance and fierceness at the same time; “Hahoe mask dance”, a unique satire mask dance on society; “Seonyu-julbul firework”, a firework with the oriental images of grace and elegance and so forth.

11. The effort of Andong people to preserve the cultural inheritance and the soul of the cultural value The visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Andong, a small city with the population of 170 thousand, was a consequence of the effort of Andong people to preserve the cultural inheritance. Andong still stimulates citizens to preserve it by making self-governing regulations. The city also reconstructs the contemporary value of Confucianism through more than 10 research institutes such as Korea Studies Advancement Center and the institute of Andong culture. In addition, more than 10 civil communities such as Andong Zikimi, Youth Group, Bakyak Institute, the Institute of Andong culture study, and Sarangbang Andong make an effort to activate the preservation movement for Andong culture. Such effort is derived from the attempt not only to preserve the national characteristics but also to generate diverse and sustainable culture that UNESCO is aiming for. Preserving the only existing Confucian cultural center in the world as well as offering the philosophical meaning to the valuable daily life of 21st century is the hope of Andong people. At the same time, it is expected that arousing public responses of the world will certainly give Andong people courage and strength to preserve their culture.

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