Modern feng shui in Korea
By Janet Shin
Where can we find the perfect answer about our life or future? Not only the future itself but the way to be happy and successful is humans’ ultimate pursuit.
People used to say that success is made neither by one’s effort nor by talent. The right time, the right place and the right person, all have to come together to be successful. The right person can also be someone who supports and sponsors success both spiritually and materially.
Even a very talented person cannot be successful, if they just live in an isolated mountain village with no connection to the outside. People such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg may not have achieved the same success if born in the 15th century.
People want to know where the right place is, when the right time is and who the right person is. To get these answers, some may go to saju masters, feng shui masters, or have their faces and palms read. Some may also go to psychics to seek the help of extraordinary powers of clairvoyance while other cultures have their own traditional ways of reading destiny.
According to Oriental teachings, feng shui has provided certain answers for the question of “right place,” and saju for the question of “right time.” Both have eventually given us certain insights into human life.
Let’s look more into feng shui.
Feng shui, literally meaning wind and water, is to control the wind and acquire the water to enjoy a happy and healthy life. It is no wonder that ancient civilizations grew by rivers. The Nile is the lifeline of Egyptian civilization, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were the resources of the Mesopotamian civilization, the Ganges River was key for Indian civilization and the Chinese began by the Yellow River. Feng shui compares water to wealth.
Then how about wind? How did ancient people figure out controlling the wind?
In the Stone Age, most people slept inside caves. Let’s say, a couple sets up their lives in a south-facing cave, while the other couple dwelled in one facing the north. Suppose they lived in the Northern Hemisphere. The former found conditions warmer, while the latter found it too cold with a cold wind blowing into the cave. People learned that it was desperately important to find a safe place. And there must have been warmer when blocking the steely wind coming from the north.
This is basically how feng shui has been developed and credited by people. Accordingly, “Baesanimsu” (mountains in the back and water in the front) has been a key word representing the best feng shui, also related to solar and lunar energy.
When it comes to modern lives, some stores located toward the west found their products easily faded in the sunlight. So they have naturally stored and displayed their products away from the glow of the setting sun.
There is a Korean saying “dong-gung mama.” “Dong-gung” means crown prince while “mama” refers to your majesty. Dong-gung also means the palace of the crown prince and “dong” also stands for east, suggesting that the residence of the crown prince was located in the east. Why did they arrange the residence for the crown prince in an easterly direction?
East has the property of wood, out of the five elements of the universe. The sun rises from the east. The wood element denotes spring and fresh mornings. It has an active, growing property. The vigorous and progressive youths are often compared to the wood element. So by locating the residence of the crown prince in the east, they wanted to promote the energy of the future king. The same applies to modern feng shui. It is said that the best location of sons is an easterly direction for a prosperous life. Also if you want to promote your business, you need to pay more attention to your east side.
We already know how discreetly the transfer of the capital, Hanyang in the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910) was made. There is no doubt that Seoul, the current name of Hanyang, has good feng shui, having mountains in the north, west, east and south as dragons protecting the city from heavy wind, with the palaces and old city surrounded by the Cheonggye Stream. It is now the Han River, as the city has expanded in size. They also tried best to locate royal tombs under good feng shui. The Joseon royal tombs, listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO, had to be located near Hanyang, so that their descendant kings could receive the fortunate energy from their fathers.
Naegok-dong in southern Seoul is where the tombs of Taejong, the third king of Joseon, and Sunjo, the 23rd one, are located. And the tomb of the Great King Sejong was once located there but was later moved to Yeoju in Gyeonggi Province.
It is also the area where President Lee Myung-bak purchased a housing lot under his son’s name. Although Lee decided to nullify the purchase after criticism, controversy still remains about why Lee planned to move to Naegok-dong after retirement. It was said that he consulted with a feng shui expert.
Hannam-dong, where many business tycoons live, is also one of the hottest feng shui places. There is endless news about Hannam-dong ― how expensive those residences are and the disputes over the view right.
Some may consider feng shui as an old-fashioned study. It is reckoned that Korean feng shui is more about tombs. However, it is still meaningful to find truth from classic studies, which is arrestingly connected with our modern lives.
Information: Are you interested in learning more about the ancient Chinese teaching about the “Four Pillars of Destiny”? For further information, visit www.fourpillarskorea.com or contact Janet Shin at 010-5414-7461 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The writer is the president of the Heavenly Garden, a saju research center in Korea, and the author of “Learning Four Pillars.”