[FOUNTAIN]Location, location, locationPungsu, also known as feng shui, a Chinese term more familiar to Westerners, is a key to understanding traditional Korean culture. While not many Koreans these days seriously believe in pungsu, the method has traditionally been considered something to abide by in everyday matters. In order to understand Korean heritage, a basic knowledge of pungsu would be helpful.
In an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo on Tuesday, the Grand National Party's presidential candidate Lee Hoi-chang said he did not want to stay in the Blue House even if he became president. Perhaps Mr. Lee said what he did because he felt the Blue House was too isolated from the public. It was also a political statement about how close he wanted to be with the people. Incidentally, there are some special pungsu stories about the place where the Blue House stands.
According to pungsu, Seoul is prime land on the Korean Peninsula, and Gyeongbok Palace sits in a prime location in Seoul. In pungsu, land that "stores the wind and gains the water" is considered prime land. In other words, the land must have mountains surrounding it to "store the wind" and a river or stream running through it.
The outer range of mountains surrounding Seoul consists of Mount Bukhan, Mount Acha, which rises behind the Walker Hill Hotel, Mount Gwanak and Mount Deukyang. The inner range that surrounds Gyeongbok Palace is made up of Mount Bukak, Mount Nak, Mount Nam and Mount Inwang. Mount Bukak is considered the main mountain because it looks down on the palace.
The "big water" that runs through Seoul is the Han River and the inner "small water" is Cheonggye stream. Gyeongbok Palace is situated between the main mountain and the inner water, making it a prime spot in Seoul. The land where the Blue House stands used to be a garden outside Sinmumun, the northern gate of the palace. Sinmumun is no longer open to the public for security reasons. In pungsu, the site of the Blue House is not a good one because it is situated outside the palace grounds, in the inner part of the main mountain in the north where the human touch should not reach.
"The outside of Sinmumun is the land of the spirits where humans shouldn't intrude," said Choi Chang-jo, a pungsu scholar, who has argued for the removal of the Blue House.
Perhaps it is time to consider the relocation of the Blue House, not only for political and pungsu-related reasons, but also for historic reasons.
The writer is the popular culture news editor of the JoongAng Ilb.
by Oh Byung-sang