He who logs on opens window to wisdomWhat the hierarchical Confucius would have thought about the anarchically free Internet, we can only guess. But thanks to the office of North Gyeongsang province, we can use the Internet to learn all about Confucius.
And more. After all, Confucianism is not only about Confucius. Though the belief system roots in the works by Confucius (552-479 B.C.), it has been added to and altered by generations since, notably by Mencius and Xunzi, who argued whether human beings are born good or evil. Mencius, who said good, won that argument, as you can read at www.yugyo.org, the site of the Online Confucian Museum that's now available in English, Japanese, Chinese and, of course, Korean.
Often, local Web sites' attempts at providing content in foreign languages are hastily done, light on content and underwhelming, but that's not the case for this electronic museum. Koo Hae-il at the provincial office, who planned out the site, says, "To make the Web site full-fledged, a group of scholars and expert supervisors helped out both in the language and the contents."
The site divides into eight sections, dealing with Confucianism, history and more touristy attractions. The sections dealing with theory are not reader-friendly (Confucing?), with hard-to-read text that hurts its otherwise quality contents. The translations need some more work in the theory part, too, such as when the term "Sunglihac" is used for more understandable Sung Confucianism. The best part of the Web site is its impressive graphics, especially in sections like "For Youth" and "Image Theater." The youth section shows video files on ceremonies done according to Confucian beliefs -- coming-of-age, marriage and funeral. It also lists anecdotes of Confucian scholars like Yi Hwang from the Joseon Dynasty, which makes the study friendlier.
If you would like a glimpse of the peninsula under Confucian influence, but shun the idea of a package tour, you can get enough information from the Excursion to Confucianism section to make your own tour. You can get recommended routes for sightseeing Korea's Confucian-related sites. If that information is not just enough, you can go to the Image Theater section, with its panoramic views of 10 Confucian private schools scattered around the peninsula. Short and cute flash animations give graphic presentation of stories teaching Confucian lessons, like a son who moved the heavens with his filial duty.
The Web site is still a test version, but the real thing fully opens Friday.
by Chun Su-jin