Hanyang Campus could have been a palace?

Su Un Taeh KIM

Gyeongbokgung palace (경복궁) is a gateway that allows the visitor to get a glimpse on the Joseon Dynasty(조선왕조1392-1897) attracting thousands of visitors every year. Although it was burnt during the Imjin wars (임진왜란1592-1598) and remained in ruins until its grand restoration 160 years ago, it is still preserved with 600 years of royal architecture capturing the awe and imagination of Korean history. But what if this magnificent palace that represents the center of Korean culture and history was originally meant to be in our campus?

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To find out, we must take a short time travel to the late 14th century when the ‘newly’ installed Joseon Dynasty was avidly looking for an adequate land to build their new capital. At the time and even in modern Korea, Feng Shui (풍수/風水- the use of energy forces to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment), was vital when it came to building new royal residences, government compounds to a new home for the average farmer. Thus, the Joseon Dynasty mobilized the best Feng Shui experts headed by the royal adviser Muhak to find idealistic grounds that would ensure that the dynasty continues through lasting generations. Muhak (무학대사) came across the region now known as Wangsimni (왕십리) and with counsel from his fellow experts, decided that this land situated above the Han river and surrounded by natural streams would be the perfect candidate for the new capital. The spot for the main palace was to be where Hanyang University now stands as it is with a rocky mountain that supposedly springs out powerful masculine energy and surrounding Cheonggyechon stream (청계천) , Jungnangcheon (중랑천) stream providing natural barriers for a harmonious environment. Adequate space full with powerful energies and surrounded by beautiful streams made it the ideal designation for a grand palace in accordance to Feng Shui principles and even to a regular perspective. However, the new capital was built around the area that we now know as Gyeongbokgung palace for reasons that are now unclear due to time and history.

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Legend says that while Muhak was quenching his thirst in the area where the university now stands, an elderly farmer driving his cattle advised him to go 10 li (1 li – approx. 570m / 10 li – approx. 5.7km) westward for a better land. Which explains why the area near the university is called Wangsimni (왕십리) as it literally means go further ten miles. Regardless of the fact that the campus where we pursue our academic purposes “could” have been the site for a grand royal palace, we should not forget the fact that the energy in the land does not fade away and continuously affect its inhabitants. If that’s the case, we must take pride that we are able to take classes, study and socialize on a ground that is still revered as a powerful land full of optimistic energy and use it as a fuel to dive into our ambitions!

 

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