[KS] Korean Tea Ceremony and other wonders

Sun Joo Kim sunjookim1 at hotmail.com
Thu Aug 16 00:07:44 EDT 2012

Dear Frank and list members,
I just noticed that the link that I provided in my earlier post for the poem 經營兮十年。作草堂兮三間。明月兮淸風。咸收拾兮時完。惟江山兮無處納。散而置兮觀之 leads to some other poem (百里群山擁野平。臨溪茅屋幸初成。此身不繫蒼生望。宜與沙鷗結好盟), which is also titled "MyOnang-jOng". I guess some online glitches. The poem under discussion can be found in MyOnang-jip, kwOn 4, chapchO (Han'guk munjip ch'onggan, vol. 26, 237c). As for Frank's question, I assume that this poem  was originally a sijo and composed in the Korean or mixed script (as in Professor Kim-Renaud's post, beginning with 十年을 經營하야 草廬三間지어내니...) and then later written in hanmun (經營兮十年...) as we see now in MyOnang-jip, Song Sun's collected works. But I am not certain. 
I believe MyOnang-jOng (whether it was one 3-kan hut or a compound of several buildings with sorrounding gardens, I do not know) was built by Song Sun back in the sixteenth century. I am sure that the pavilion must have gone through numerous repairs and possibly total reconstructions, thereby might have lost its original 16th century state. 
Sun Joo Kim

> Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2012 23:40:19 -0700
> From: hoffmann at koreaweb.ws
> To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
> Subject: Re: [KS] Korean Tea Ceremony and other wonders
> ------------------------------
> In this re-written version, I am trying to summarize some minor issues, 
> but also get to the essential issues later in this posting. For 
> whatever reason the first version did not get posted. / FH
> ------------------------------
> Quick question:
> Professor Kim, the link you provide to the "original" of the poem shows 
> it is written in Hanja, not mixed script?
> 百里群山擁野平。臨溪茅屋幸初成。此身不繫蒼生望。宜與沙鷗結好盟。
> That changes the grammar (no -porira ending), makes even Richard Rutt's 
> translation with the more 'passive' last line also more appropriate. I 
> thought that sijo were always composed in mixed script. Not? 
> Second quick question to Professor Sun Joo Kim. You wrote:
> > The thached roof building is none other than the MyOnang-jong, 
> > MyOnang Pavilion in Tamyang, where Song Sun resided.
> Okay, a "pavilion" then -- Myŏnang-jŏng -- but that seems a bit 
> strange, as a pavilion, by definition, is a place to meet, to drink 
> wine, sing, recite poetry, etc. That was such an intriguing concept 
> that Prussian kings even imported that to Dresden 
> (http://www.panoramio.com/photo/68305971 ), and others that really look 
> like East Asian ones). You do not build a pavilion to then say, sorry 
> it is too small, stay outside my friends, I am enjoying just myself, 
> the moon and the mountains. For a photo of the rebuild pavilion, 
> Myŏnang-jŏng, see the last pictures on this page: 
> http://jungar.tistory.com/115 It makes much more sense if indeed the 
> object referred to would be a small house (in a similar setting). When 
> we read such "information" about allocations of places in literature 
> and poetry to specific, existing buildings and places we should be 
> suspicious. That pavilion may not have been a pavilion in the 15th 
> century, and/or the writer may just have had some very generalized 
> situational setting in mind when writing the poem. The reason I am 
> pointing into this direction is again the already mentioned 
> context--interpreting archaeological findings the way they seem 
> appropriate to make up a good story (but what I saw and mentioned 
> earlier did relate to tea ceremony). All this is, let me also note 
> this, NOT at all a Korean-only phenomena. The famous Dresden Cathedral 
> (Frauenkirche), for example, destroyed during WWII and finally rebuild 
> and reopened in 2005, never existed. It never existed the way you now 
> see it rebuild, not for a single day. (I just use this as an example 
> because I am very familiar with the details of the reconstruction 
> process, but this is a global scenario.) What you see when you visit 
> the impressive building are (often idealized and beautified) 
> projections of how various art historians and archaeologists imagined 
> how various parts of the building and its interior looked during 
> *different* historic periods. In many cases the rebuild version of each 
> room or part of the room (and other details) is a clear reflection of 
> current (1990s and 2000s) tastes, of what "looks best" and "most 
> impressive" or most "perfect" to the visitor. You will often see the 
> very same room at four different periods, each wall in the state of a 
> different period, and with walls that did not even exist at the time 
> the opposite wall existed. It is not a reconstruction of the 
> Frauenkirche during a particular period in time. Nobody did cut the 
> time, say in 1820, and said, well, that is the state of the building we 
> now reconstruct. Doesn't matter where to you go … in Japan temples, 
> for example, are being rebuild (please, Prof. Best help me out here), 
> was it every 80 years? Or every 200, I forgot. But they ARE being 
> rebuild on a regular basis, and they do change their looks with every 
> rebuild, most certainly so, as the "taste" changes, the needs change, 
> building construction techniques and economics change, and so on and so 
> forth. In Japan that is perfectly in line with Buddhist concepts of 
> life, of course (everything is always perfect in Japan). Maybe that's 
> why today's centuries old Japanese temples get us the feel of black 
> concrete castles modeled after construction plans from The Cabinet of 
> Dr. Caligari and German Autobahn bridges.
> Prof. Kim wrote:
> > [I] do not want to (...) make any comment whether there was any 
> > unique garden culture in Choson
> What kind of question would such a comment have to precede, a 
> whether-or-not question? All that points into a strange direction then. 
> That should not be the issue. The EMPHASIS should really not be on 
> "unique" (yes, of course were Korean gardens unique!) One of the main 
> questions is rather how important or how marginal gardens were in 
> Chosŏn Korea for cultural production (and that can only be answered in 
> relationship to whatever else was going on in Korea and what "garden 
> culture" meant in neighboring China, Japan, and also in the West. 
> "Garden culture" as we talk about it for these other cultures is not 
> about just gardens! Garden culture is, as pointed out before, as a huge 
> package of cultural production, in the arts, literature, and political 
> and social life. In Europe and Japan and in early China it could have 
> that role because it constituted 'high culture' and not 'low culture,' 
> came from the top of the power base or, in the Japanese case, was 
> instrumentalized to represent a new upwards moving merchant class. Now, 
> in Korea (this is a question, not the final answer), if indeed as 
> stated by Professor Sasse, garden design and architecture was informed 
> by ('low culture') geomancy and not by (as in old China or in early 
> modern Japan) Buddhist philosophy and related culture, and also not by 
> neo-Confucian ideas, then we would already have a very major difference 
> there to the neighboring settings. That is also expected, of course. 
> But my doubts are that in a neo-Confucian state low culture geomantic 
> practices can lead to a whole culture. See, again, this is not just 
> about gardens … you would then see literature, philosophical 
> discourses, you would see lots of ceramic wares and other handicraft 
> production, changes of social life etc. all circling around the garden, 
> and being reflected in garden designs. I have NOT seen that in Korea. 
> And it makes NO sense to me, would not expect that with any low culture 
> anywhere, not until the 20th century (or maybe the French Revolution, 
> if we talk about Europe). In that context it then also makes sense that 
> the few treatises by Korean scholars we do have come from early 
> Chosŏn--still close to the Koryŏ period, a time where gardens were 
> bound into philosophical concepts and were they still represented 
> aristocratic culture, both in China and Korea. So, my second set of 
> doubts is with all these over and over emphasized "geomantic" 
> principles etc. when it comes to later period gardens in Korea. What 
> that indicates that to me is that, all over, representatives of the 
> upper class, scholars, etc., did not anymore care much about gardens, 
> and that there was not much of a related culture left. Gardens could 
> NOT s easily be bind into neo-Confucian concepts of thought (quite 
> opposite to Buddhist societies, and also opposite to the European case 
> where power structures and resulting aesthetics were represented in 
> very direct ways … as e.g. in North Korea today). Bamboo and the 
> flowers mentioned before … yes, scholars may have discussed those, BUT 
> NOT within the context of garden, garden planning, garden architecture, 
> etc., just the way that they do play symbolic roles and the way they 
> appear e.g. in painting. Gardens themselves where, as compared to other 
> periods and other countries, at a low burner all through the Chosŏn 
> period, and if today you interpret their layout as geomantically 
> influenced than that is an indication of exactly -- we do see no 
> reflection of the ideologies of the state there, nor (!) was whatever 
> was done in gardens handed down from the aristocracy to a wider 
> population to again (a) propagate state ideology or ideologies of 
> important power brokers, (b) and there was no imitation of upper-class 
> culture either. The way I read Werner's description then rather means 
> lower and upper class culture were the same when it comes to gardens 
> (geomantic principles). That is an overly clear indication there there 
> was no importance put to gardens whatsoever. I would, however, further 
> extend my doubts to the "geomantic influences" part--it sounds too 
> 20the century Western 'esoteric.' Aren't geomantic practices always (a) 
> very concrete? And (b) this is never an entire philosophy either, but 
> the grand master plan such as Buddhist or Confucian models, but rather 
> limited in that sense. That again means, when it comes to gardens, then 
> there is no such "concept" of how to construct a garden, is there? 
> Rules may have been applied, mostly rules of what NOT to do. But 
> geomancy, although we use that term, was never anything like ONE school 
> (or religion) that would provide a whole toolset (like Buddhism, 
> Christianity) of symbolism; there are no grand master narratives that 
> someone could have taken up, it cannot be utilized for the grand 
> planning of gardens (for scholars and the upper class). 
> A last note--let me come back to the issue of the "uniqueness" of 
> gardens (or garden culture, which I would not use). Uniqueness is out! 
> And right so, we should really stop talking about and thinking in terms 
> of uniqueness when we discuss, describe, talk about national or local 
> culture, even when we talk about individual cultural production. I know 
> that there are still people out there at anthropology museums and 
> museums that have East Asian art collections, and other such places, 
> where efforts are put into providing proof of national uniqueness of 
> this or that, but well, I think it has been at least two decades that 
> adjectives such as 'unique' started to get disqualified and to be 
> ignored at international contemporary art exhibitions. Although these 
> mummy terms in wheelchairs were never declared dead and replaced by 
> something else (but that's seldom the case with any cultural models and 
> belief systems, they do not get replaced, they co-exist until everyone 
> has forgotten), they were just disregarded and left alone in their 
> isolated chambers to dream of the olden days when they had received so 
> much attention. I see no reason why there should be any difference in 
> how we discuss traditional art and how modern and contemporary art and 
> art objects. Objects may have been produced under very different 
> circumstances, but we do evaluate them and their meaning to us today. 
> OUR concept of uniqueness and the still mainstream understanding that 
> 'good art' has to be 'unique,' that is basically a left-over from the 
> early and mid-20th century art scene and the way modern art, and more 
> specifically abstract painting and Informal, took care of propagating 
> themselves through pamphlets and declarations, and how it was later 
> advertised as the final and last stage of human art development by 
> entire governments, as the final (or at least strongest) legitimate 
> expression of individualism in the arts. All of that is yesterday's 
> talk now, all that has been dropped. Uniqueness and originality, as 
> concepts, are not even meaningful anymore for designers, as was still 
> the case in the 1980s and maybe up until into the 1990s. Then we had a 
> new emphasis coming in on "authenticity" and "the local" as a result of 
> and parallel to postmodern movements. But now that's gone also, and not 
> even corporate advertisement companies work with such concepts anymore. 
> When we see Apple vs. Samsung in court over a cell phone design, then 
> that is an expression of how far behind the court system is, not an 
> expression where our society and artists are. Neither designers nor 
> artists would care about "originality" and "uniqueness" much anymore, 
> and if they are soon out. The very obscure part comes in when we remind 
> ourselves that those engaged in East Asian art and culture have for 
> decades tried so hard to explain that "uniqueness" and "originality" 
> are modern Western concepts that traditional cultures in Asia did not 
> go by. Look e.g. through all the literature from or about Japanese art 
> of the 1970s, no matter if traditional or modern art. It's full of 
> originality discourses, that is the main focus. Korea, a few decades 
> years later, has these now, at least the official organizations 
> (National Museums, ARKO, etc.) all reproduce them, is at the hight of 
> it. So you see all these explanations on how and why "originality" 
> concepts had not been enacted in traditional Korean art, and a few 
> lines later it is explained to us how and why Korean national culture 
> is the most "unique" and "original" one (AND that is not even wrong in 
> the sense of factually incorrect). Be-au-ti-ful! So, while in 
> traditional art almost everything relies on models, patterns, and 
> repetition, all the modern national institutions in Korea never get 
> tired to advertise nothing but national-level uniqueness and 
> originality (Bauhaus and European modernism ideologies send their 
> greetings!); all the while the international art scene has moved on 
> into other directions. Try to explain that logic to your students, 
> please. That will likely take you a full semester of intense 
> brain-washing to communicate. But museum folks and other institutional 
> representatives are usually really skilled at turning all these 
> left-over approaches into a tasty pindaettŏk. And who knows, if you buy 
> their coffee table book for your art and culture class, they might get 
> you a free Samsung Galaxy S3 in unique Korean design right on top of 
> it. 
> I come to the modern Tamyang gardens later (maybe tomorrow) … and to 
> the various very interesting points Werner made. But seriously, I thing 
> the main disagreements are not about the actual gardens but about how 
> and where to situate the discourse.
> Best,
> Frank
> --------------------------------------
> Frank Hoffmann
> http://koreaweb.ws
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