[KS] North Korean temple photos

Yong-Ho Choe choeyh at hawaii.edu
Thu Aug 14 17:35:14 EDT 2014

If my memory is correct, either Jangan-sa or Seokwang-sa (or both) were
destroyed during the Korean War. I  vaguely remember reading many years ago
that either or the both were burned down due to American bombings. Can any
one confirm this?

Yong-ho Choe

On Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 9:37 PM, Frank Hoffmann <hoffmann at koreanstudies.com>

> Dear Dr. Saeji, and All:
> You wrote:
> > At this point in Korea people see a traditional bldg with traditional
> > eaves and dancheong paintings on it as as anonymous and
> > interchangeable as apartment buildings. People have no training, no
> > understanding of how to spot the architectural differences or the
> > variation in dancheong.
> That is, after thinking twice, not really such a bad and inappropriate
> comparison as you meant to say. In a private message someone wrote me
> that Changan-sa and the Buddhist monastery photo on that Korean blog
> (by Weber) are "totally different in every way." Well, I think such
> statements are based on pre-modern and modern Western concepts of
> architecture and art that we have since the Renaissance. Buddhist
> temples and monasteries throughout Korea and also compared to those in
> China were *not* "totally different in every way." Changan-sa and
> Yujŏm-sa, for instance, were similar in structure, but not just these
> two. These were, before anything, religious places. The concept of
> "art" that comes since the Renaissance in the West with that essential
> idea of "originality" and therefore a strong emphasis on difference
> (and I'd argue already much earlier than the Renaissance) had no weight
> in East Asia. Buddhist architecture, sculpture, and painting were
> declared "art" by who? It ALSO is a question of cultural (and therefore
> ethnic) identity! That might sound flashy at first, and 1990-ish. Yet,
> it seems important when we talk about Buddhist "art" what template we
> pull over the object's head, how we dress up our baby, how we present
> it. When you interview the people who live in some of the famous huge
> apartment buildings by Le Courbusier, they do not even have no clue
> that they live in such art historically famous houses, they pretty much
> all hate it (I am not making that up). Buddhist monasteries were looked
> down on in the late Chosŏn period, monks were looked down at and talked
> down to, and Christianity did the rest. The only concept that then
> (let's skip the colonial period with its Japanese version of Buddhism,
> which never "convinced" Koreans), after liberation, took effect, and
> what we still see now in the present Korean corporate bling-bling
> culture, is basically the same template created by high-class Western
> collectors (and the Asian art museums that serve them): Buddhist "art"
> as collectable and displayable artifact -- the seated Buddha next to
> your fireplace. AND THAT has to differentiate itself from your golf
> partner's, of course, who has one from China or Thailand, it has to be
> "original." Now, since nobody can go back a 100 years, since Korea like
> the rest of the world, is now a "Renaissance" country that proudly
> displays its "objects" in exhibitions at the MET and titles such shows
> "Art of the Korean Renaissance" (2009), and all that -- the issue of
> cultural and ethnic identity seems just an overstated and useless
> academic construct. However, it *is* still essential when dealing with
> Buddhist architecture and sculpture, etc. -- so we are reconsidering
> what was in each historical period, and how it was perceived. And here
> is "anonymous and interchangeable" not always that wrong as it might
> seem. So we do not try to understand that with our originality
> eyeglasses. This is a complex issue, and in some short email posting it
> is not possible to discuss this appropriately -- so, please forgive the
> shortcuts.
> For a good "entry point" to such topics, if interested, I suggest the
> following conference volume (not particularly on Buddhist art though,
> but also):
>   Naomi Noble Richard and Donald E. Brix (ed.),
>   _The History of Painting in East Asia: Essays on Scholarly
>   Method_. Taipei: Rock Publishing International, 2008.
> Best,
> Frank
> --------------------------------------
> Frank Hoffmann
> http://koreanstudies.com
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