&#91FOUNTAIN&#93Yongin: land of spirits

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&#91FOUNTAIN&#93Yongin: land of spirits

The hills and streams of Yongin, south of Seoul, are calm as they bask in the sunshine. Everything green in Yongin is greener under the June sun, and everything red is redder. The hills and mountains rise one after another, and the valleys are deep and cool. And there is no threatening rockiness on the high elevations.
Gazing out at the hills and lakes, one wonders whether this could be heaven on earth, but Yongin has an image as being the refuge of the dead.
There is an old tale about Yongin and the North Gyeongsang town of Jincheon ― “In Jincheon when alive, in Yongin when dead.” When a woman living in Yongin was widowed, she remarried and moved to Jincheon. Years later, the son left behind in Yongin went to Jincheon to look his mother up and bring her back to Yongin. But the son in Jincheon would have none of that. So the town elder made the decision for them: the son in Jincheon would take care of her until her death, when the son from Yongin would take her back to Yongin to bury her there and look after her grave.
Fortune tellers say the spirit in dead bones will not be swept away by the wind, nor will it go brittle because wind is gentle and water flows out in all directions in Yongin.
About two years before former President Kim Dae-jung made his fourth ― and finally, successful ― run for president, he had the graves of his parents, sister and deceased wife secretly moved to Yongin. A close acquaintance of Mr. Kim who is believed to have paid for the job was later named to a good position in government, perhaps for the service he did in Yongin.
Patriots and philosophers are buried there and the spirit of their loyalty and sympathy lives on. Yu Hyeong-won, a Joseon Dynasty scholar, said, “The land is the foundation of the world. When the foundation is tarnished, law and order will crumble.”
A parcel of Yongin land owned by an acquaintance of President Roh Moo-hyun has been the subject of a national controversy. Allegations of wrongdoing have put the morality of not only the owner but also Mr. Roh in question. The jump in the value of real estate in Yongin is because of its industrial, transportation and development potential. Yongin is no longer a valley of calm, but powerful people must understand: Anyone who tampers with land in Korea can meet the fate of the ground he is standing on.

by Chun Young-gi

The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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