Words and shot by Matthew C. Crawford
South Korean paper currency is not just about purchasing goods and services – it can also teach us about the greater good and paying service to the king. Consider the W1,000 bill, which features scholar Yi Hwang (이황), also known by his pen name of Toegye (퇴계).
Korean scholar Richard Rutt, who passed away last year, summed up Yi Hwang’s life concisely: “He died in 1570, having spent several periods of life in government service and high office, but always yearning to withdraw to a life of study with a group of disciples. His final retreat was in the beautiful valley of [Dosan], in southeast Korea, where his house still stands. [Toegye] is unquestionably the greatest of Korean philosophers.”
Turn over the W1,000 bill and you will see a landscape painting of this beautiful valley and the Confucian academy that remains there to this day. It began in 1560 as Dosan Seodang
(도산서당), and after the death of Yi Hwang, the king commanded that a shrine be built for his memorial tablet and a full scale academy – a seowon (서원) – be founded.
The complex of 15 wooden structures, some of them over 400 years old, rises along a gentle hill, surrounded by pine and fronted by the Nakdong River. Though the library, study hall, and other buildings are now completely empty, the site is still profoundly animated by its past.
Back at the High Cloud Terrace
my study is cool and quiet.
A lifetime of books
has meant delights without end.
What words can I find to describe
these pleasures ever fresh?
Translation by Richard Rutt
Getting There Bus #67 departs four times per day from Andong’s Intercity Bus Terminal. The site is open until 6 pm in the summer and 5 pm in the winter.
|Words by Malcolm Wrest, illustrations by Pat Volz| Korea has a vast amount of natural beauty ...
Robert Glasper Experiment Black Radio | Blue Note Records | If one is pressed to name an ...
Konjiam in Gyeonggi-do is know for its skiing, but the newly renovated resort now caters to ...