[FOUNTAIN]Falling flowersAround May or June, Sim Hak-gyu, a blind man, longs for his daughter Sim Cheong in the “Song of Sim Cheong,” one of the Korean operas, also known as a Pansori opera. “The spring is gone and the summer has come, and the season of grass and flowers has arrived. The mountains and streams are lonely, and the sound of the running water is sorrowful. Friends of my daughter greet me, I think of her more and more.”
Early summer is expressed as the season when the deep shade of trees and fragrancy of the grasses are better than flowers. The rain in this season is called nokwu, or green rain, and the light wind coming from the wood is called hunpung, or balmy breeze. The dear paternal love of the blind Sim comes from regret that his daughter, whose life ended suddenly, could not see this “whole new world.”
Lee Ji-ham, a mid-Joseon period scholar famous for his book of fortune, compared the golden days of life to this season of trees and grass, singing, “As I climbed the pavilion and drank in the season of green trees and fragrant grass, mountain birds flew in and merrily sang.” He considered the season a symbol of abundance and said, “If you spend this season happily and with virtues, you will be blessed and your wealth will grow into a huge fortune before you realize it.”
At the same time, it is also the time of the year to pursue elegant delights. One of the most well-known traditional Gayageum Byeongchang performances is “Nokeumbangcho,” which means the green shades and fragrant grass.
The trees and grass make a man healthy and refreshed. The secret of “green-air bathing,” a method of walking around the woods for fresh air, is the fragrance of the trees. Phytoncide, an aromatic compound from tree leaves, is known to relieve stress and strengthen the heart and lungs. The peace and calm of the woods gives the bather a chance to meditate and mentally purify himself.
Park Ji-won, former Blue House chief of staff for President Kim Dae-jung, was taken into custody once again for malfeasance in the course of arranging an inter-Korean summit meeting in 2000. He said, “Flowers have fallen four times and the season of green trees and fragrant grass has come once again.” When prosecutors first detained him three years ago, he quoted from “Nakhwa,” falling flower, by Jo Ji-hun, “How can a falling flower dare to blame the wind?” Mr. Park’s remark reminds us all of how transient and vain political power is. What he did not understand is why flowers fall in the season of green trees and fragrant grass. What if we knew then what we know now?
by Park Jai-hyun
The writer is a deputy city news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.