[FOUNTAIN]Feng shui has a role in politicsGuo Pu wrote a proverb in the 4th century in China that still has great influence on Koreans in the 21st century: "Energy, or qi, scatters with the winds and stops when it meets water."
Qi is a comprehensive concept that represents power and principles of nature that can control life and death. Guo Pu said the variables that determine the flow of qi are wind and water, or feng shui. Feng shui originated from his teachings and became known as the knowledge and a practice used to find a favorable spot for a house or grave.
According to feng shui, people have good luck when they are surrounded by the qi of land. For that reason, they must build houses or tombs on well-situated spots.
Guo Pu stated that a good location is encircled by water, which keeps the qi from running away, and where winds do not blow hard, since they disperse qi. Chinese proverbs often describe locations that "hide wind and surround water" or "lean against mountains and sit opposite water." So, the favorable spots are surrounded by mountains and split by rivers.
The people who made feng shui flourish in the Korean Peninsula were Wanggeon, founder of the Goryeo Dynasty, and Doseon, a Buddhist monk who helped Wanggeon found Goryeo. Doseon, a feng shui master, told Wanggeon's father, "If you build your house with the front door facing the south, a child will be born who will eventually become a king." Wanggeon, who was born according to the prophecy, took political advantage of feng shui.
Emphasizing that he was destined to be king, he founded a kingdom by uniting the powerful clans at that time. When he died, he said in his will, "The land in the south of Charyeong where Baekje Dynasty started is full of traitors. Do not hire people from there." Feng shui has become an accepted practice that explains good luck and bad luck.
Although times have changed, interest in feng shui remains strong. President Kim Dae-jung moved his parents' tomb to Yongin, Gyeonggi province, in 1997 and won the presidential election at the year's end. Now that Roh Moo-hyun has been nominated as a presidential candidate for the Millennium Democratic Party, many people are flocking to visit Mr. Roh's birthplace, a remote village in Jinyeong, South Gyeongsang province.
But people's destiny is not always shaped by feng shui, and not only the location of the land but also people's conduct matters. "Families that do a number of good deeds will become prosperous," according to the teachings in feng sui.
The writer is a deputy culture news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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