Column_October _2_Why I love
After appreciating the high autumn sky for a while, and upon casting my glance slightly downward, I sensed a dry feel from leaves that are losing their green color. Compared to the time when the leaves looked dazzlingly sparkling under the strong sun, it now feels more comfortable to gaze at them for a long time. Thin leaves look more mature. Today, in the midst of the perfect season for reading books, I attempt to unfold Hangeul encased in a small form over a wider world. Let’s feel Hangeul as we take each step.
Yeoju is a city related to King Sejong who created Hangeul (Korean alphabet). Patterns made with Hangeul are all over the city. Yeoju is teeming with rich culture such as museums, Yeongneung Royal Tomb (Tomb of King Sejong), and exhibitions related to Hangeul.
King Sejong the Great Museum
After getting off the bus, I stopped for a moment at the forked road on a wide grass field. A little child who ran past me entered a long building. It was the King Sejong the Great Museum.
The museum used to look like a strict history teacher who was about to unleash the fountain of knowledge in front of me, so I rarely visited the place. With the thought that I would feel comfortable if I just skimmed through the museum like a folding screen, I entered the museum. On the left, I noticed Yeominnak, a souvenir store with a cafe. The store has a wide window where visitors can see wide grass and people walking on the grass outside. After gazing at the view from the inside, I decided where to go.
Inside the museum, I saw Hunminjeongeum (The Proper Sounds for the Instruction of the People) Eonhae Version engraved on a big bronze plate: “Unlike Chinese characters, Hangeul…” I exclaimed spontaneously, “Ah, Hangeul.” I realized at that moment why I came to this place. Hangeul… The museum seemed to be using a slightly different exhibition method compared to other museums. The first exhibition hall was explaining King Sejong’s achievements with lightings in a dark space. Hunminjeongeum Haerye Version was presented on the floor. Visitors can understand the creation principle of consonants and vowels as they walk on the floor. On the horizontally arranged wide screen, historical figures who were involved in the creation of Hangeul are expressed in animation – King Sejong, Queen Sohyeon; the golden royal seals looked splendid as they were. The royal seals are listed in the UNESCO World Heritage, so I got emotional when I realized that even the world recognized the value. The clear glass protecting the records under exhibition was made of a touch screen, so the process of selecting information was very interesting.
Aside from the creation of Hangeul, King Sejong’s great achievements include music as well. King Sejong had the perfect pitch, so he left many achievements related to music. He crafted Jongmyo Jeryeak (royal ancestral ritual music in Jongmyo Shrine), and the name of the café in front of the museum, ‘‘Yeominnak,” is the title of the song he composed. The name means “Enjoying music with the people.” Among his many achievements in music, I particularly like pyeongyeong (ancient percussion instrument), a musical instrument consisting of a set of L-shaped flat stone chimes. Listening to the pyeongyeong sound while watching the imperial shrine rites or a ceremony reenacting the King’s return to the royal palace, the ritual garments, sound, and weather seemed to match perfectly. At the museum, visitors can watch a video on the process of building royal tombs and ceremonial rites. The scientific composition of royal tombs and the order of the rites presented on the big screen were very interesting, so you should not miss it. Once understanding dawns, things seem to get even more interesting. After I finished touring the museum, it no longer looked like a stern history teacher.
As a café located in one corner of the museum, Yeominnak is selling beverages and souvenirs. Although relatively small, it is a good place to appreciate outside scenery while taking a rest. Since it is newly opened, it did not have many souvenirs related to King Sejong’s achievements. I selected a plum flower-patterned small magnet as a souvenir for myself.
Yeongneung Royal Tomb-Tomb of King Sejong
The way leading to the Yeongneung royal tomb is lined with ginkgo trees. The tall trees touching the blue sky have golden blond hair; whenever the wind blows, the golden color looks more splendid. Upon entering the place, I saw a large pond on the left as well as children feeding carps while leaning against the banister. There is a vending machine selling carps food, and you should try feeding the fish. It is quite interesting. I went uphill for about 15 minutes and saw royal tombs. Korean royal tombs have jinip (the part around Jeongjagak), jehyang (the area just past the gate), and neumgchim (the sacred ground of the grave mounds) spaces. After passing Geumcheongyo Bridge,
I walked along the sindo (literally, path of the gods) and headed toward the neumgchim. Actually, Koreans do not walk along the sindo because they know it is the path for the soul. It is not too bad to become a soul to gaze at the surroundings. That is because you can see royal tombs better. I wished the warning sign “Do not go up” was not there. Autumn foliage is boasting of its red color during this time of the year across the nation, but autumn leaves here seem to look shy, maybe because of the overwhelming energy of the surrounding pine trees. The pine trees surrounding the tomb are stretching outward but look bent due to several years of protecting the tomb. Strangely enough, they are bent toward the tomb.
King Sejong’s tomb is relatively humble, but the majestic appearance of military and meritorious retainers seemed to present fully the greatness of the king when he was alive. Some visitors sat around and enjoyed the open view. The autumn grass had a reddish tone. Maybe I should have said it had a brownish color. In contrast to the clear autumn sky, it gave an impression of the sunset glow spread thinly over the grass. After appreciating nature like this, I came down.
There is another Yeongneung Royal Tomb here, which is the tomb of King Hyojong. I dropped by the tomb and took photos of children who were playing while sliding along the hill formed by the tomb.
Address: 269-50, Yeongneung-ro, Neungseo-myeon, Yeoju-si, Gyeonggi-do
Further information: Yeoju tour(click here)
Mok-A Museum-Hangeul Exhibition
The Mok-A Museum is holding the “Hangeul Exhibition” every year. Visitors can appreciate artworks made by applying the design of consonants and vowels of Hangeul to daily goods or peculiar fonts. They will realize the beauty of Hangeul, which they have taken for granted due to the daily use of Hangeul.
Address: 21, Imunan-gil, Gangcheon-myeon, Yeoju-si, Gyeonggi-do
Website: click here
King Sejong Hangeul Mural Alley
Vivid colors painted on the low fences add interesting elements to the familiar street. The alleys are like that. Drawn on the walls located at the rear gate of Jeomdong High School are unique paintings that can be differentiated from other mural places around the nation. Let us find the number 1446. The Hangeul mural begins with the number. Year 1446 is the year when Hunminjeongeum, the Korean alphabet, was issued. Hangeul was created in 1443, and it appeared in the world in 1446. As you walk along the alley, you will find four letters that are no longer used nowadays and see a painting of the King, who is listening to the voice of the people.
Autumn is a good season for reading books. At the park constructed under the theme of books, let us enjoy riding a bike and reading books.
Yuldong Park – Book Theme Park
Boasting of 10 years’ history, the park is a cultural space where visitors can get close to books in a familiar space and ambience. Above the book theme park is the “Book, the Navel of the World Park ,” which is made to look like a garden. Visitors can see a hemispherical outdoor performance site (Book of Sky) with the floor that has the drawing of a Celestial chart made during the Joseon Dynasty.
Address: 145, Munjeong-ro, Bundang-gu, Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do
Galmi Hangeul Park
The park was constructed to commemorate the achievement of scholar Lee Hi-seung in the compilation of Joseon mal keun sajeon (Korean Language Dictionary) published by the Korean Language Association during the Japanese occupation of Korea. It is exhibiting sculptures expressing the beauty of Hangeul. It will be nice to take a rest while looking at the sculpture of consonants and vowels presented in harmony with nature.
Address: 65, Munhwayesul-ro, Uiwang-si, Gyeonggi-do