(78) Seoul and Sejong City as Seen by Feng Shui and Korean History
By Janet Shin
The issue of Sejong City has sparked controversy in Korean politics.
The Lee government officially scrapped former President Roh Moo-hyun's plan to move nine government ministries and four agencies out of Seoul. During the last election, Lee had pledged to follow through with Roh's plan, but he changed his position, viewing the plan as an impediment to efficiency.
Instead, he proposed to turn it into a science and educational city and offered incentives for local and foreign firms to relocate there. Four major Korean companies have agreed to relocate or build new branches or research and development facilities at Sejong City.
Sejong is ideally situated in the central part of Korea and is close to Daedeok, already home to Korea's laboratories and universities. Such conditions would make it easier to attract talented scientists, universities and laboratories in the future. So the science-business belt could create new growth opportunities and allow the new city to operate self-sufficiently.
Now, let's see this issue in the viewpoints of feng shui and the capital position in Korean history.
Seoul was founded as a capital city of Korea during the Joseon Kingdom. However, even before the Joseon Kingdom, moving the capital from Gae-gyeong (the old capital city of Goryeo Dynasty) to Han-yang (former name of Seoul) had already been argued about during the Goryeo Dynasty.
At that time, there were lots of anxieties, accidents and affairs in the country, which wise men attributed to the weakened energy of Gae-gyeong. King Suk-jong tried to move the capital, but members of the aristocracy, who had already built broad bases of political and financial support in Gae-gyeong, were against the plan.
People believed that there was a certain energy in the land that influenced the rise and fall of a nation. There were always problems once negative energy from the people soaked into the land.
A city is not only a physical space that consists of buildings and roads but also a psychological and cultural space constituted by a network of human relationships. Once the ruling party exclusively occupies a specific place and accumulates social and cultural properties, it negatively influences the fate of a nation. The hereditary and unofficial power caused instability in government policies and a disconnect in communication channels.
The retainers and commanders of Goryeo founded the Joseon Kingdom. Without clear justification, the movement of the capital city from Gaegyeong to Hanyang would have not been possible because they didn't want to lose their support base.
Hanyang was cautiously recommended by feng shui experts, who took all possible facts into consideration. The government officials and feng shui experts kept adding their efforts to preserve the divine energy of Hanyang (Seoul) and protect it from possible misfortune.
The major mountains surrounding Seoul were named to protect the capital city and five major gates in each direction, east, west, south, north and center, were built to maximize the fate of the country.
After moving the capital city to Hanyang (Seoul), Joseon Kingdom achieved glorious success, both politically and culturally. They hired not only natives but the talents from the provinces.
Hanyang became a melting pot to gather and create new cultures from different provinces. It was considered as a land of opportunity. As time passed, factions, feuds and greed for power and wealth soaked the city again.
The Imjin War (Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592) and the Manchu War of 1636 played a certain function in clearing some of this vicious energy. After the Korean War in 1950, there was new people and energy in Seoul. It revitalized the foundation of a new cultural and economic restoration. The miracle of Han river was not achieved solely by Seoul natives but by people from different provinces.
Now the problem is not Sejong itself but Seoul as a capital city. Seoul needs to purify the vicious energy in the city to once again make it a land of opportunity. Lessening the burden of Seoul can be a solution by moving part of its functions.
Sejong City is located in the center of South Korea. The main mountain in Sejong, Jeon-wol san, or Gu-eul san was named after the village name ``Cloud bridge,'' while ``Wol'' of ``Jeon-wol san'' means ``the moon'' in Korean. The ancient wise men referred the moon to an Atman - ``soul'' or ``religious ego.'' So ``Jeon-wol'' means idealism instead of pursuing specific fulfillment.
While the name and historical view point of Seoul and Sejong City is like this, is it a proper decision to move the administrative capital to Sejong?
The area where Sejong is located has been mentioned many times, sometime as a capital city or others, but it is more proper to refer it to a spiritual place rather than a political capital city. ``Cloud bridge'' in Korean means something to try to catch an unrealistic dream.
While the Sejong issue turned to be more of a political decision, the right decision will have to be made for the fate of Korea without taking such political interests into consideration.
The writer is the president of the Heavenly Garden, a saju research center in Korea. She is the author of "Learning Four Pillars." She offers saju courses to all who are interested. For more information, visit her Web site (http://blog.naver.com/janet_shin) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.