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[FOUNTAIN]Will Calm Follow Mountain Trek?

May 30,2001
China has five sacred mountains associated with Taoism, one at each point of the compass and and one in the center. Mount Taishan, in Shandong province, is the Taoist holy mountain of the east.

Mount Huashan in Shaanxi province is the sacred mountain of the west. Mount Hengshan in Shaanxi province, Hangshan in Hunan province and Songshan in Henan province are, respectively, the holy mountains of the north, the south and the center.

Among the five mountains, Taishan ranks the most holy. On top of Taishan, successive emperors of China performed the grand ceremonies, offering sacrifices to heaven and earth. A total of 72 emperors, including Shih Huang-ti of the Chin dynasty (the first emperor who unified the whole of China), Wu-ti of the Han dynasty, Kuang Wu-ti of the latter Han dynasty and Gao-zong of the Tang dynasty, all made sacrifices to gods. It was thought that, through the ceremonies, Heaven delegated the power to control the world to the emperors. In his book the Analects, Confucius sighed at the presumptuousness of a mere official who made sacrifices on top of Taishan.

Kim Joong-kwon, chairman of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party, returned Tuesday to Seoul after a five-day stay in China. Mr. Kim went to Taishan on the second day of his stay in China. Taishan is 1,545 meters high - not as high as a poet of the Choson dynasty implied when he wrote, "However high Taishan may be, it is still a mountain under heaven," in a line in his poem. But the 10 kilometer path to the summit, which contains 7,412 steps is very tough and steep.

"I climbed the mountain with all my strength, because I heard that I would get good luck if I reach the summit," Mr. Kim joked. "The higher I went, the more energy I felt I obtained from the mountain." He was not caught in a rain shower when he climbed Tiashan. It is popularly believed that if one is caught in a rain when climbing Taishan one will achieve "something great" later. President Kim Dae-jung climbed Taishan in 1996 when he was the leader of the opposition party. He was elected as president the following year. Francois M. Mitterrand, the former president of France, also climbed the mountain before he became its president. It is said that it rained when both climbed the mountain.

While Mr. Kim stayed in China, being given treatment worthy of a president, the ruling party at home was embroiled in a dispute between young lawmakers of the party and elder top officials of the party.

Let's see if Mr. Kim, who returned with "the energies of Taishan," will skillfully settle the dispute.



The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.


by Bae Myung-bok




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