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Monday, 4 February 2013

Guan Yu a.k.a Aisha at Dongmyo Park!

Aisha will defend the precinct of Soong-in Dong, Seoul Jongno-gu from any Northern Commie's Invasion.
My home, Dongmyo a.k.a Donggwan-wangmyo (Hanja: 東廟 or 東關王廟; which literally means "Eastern Shrine") is a shrine located at 117 Nan-gye Avenue 27th Street/NanGye-ro 27-gil, Sungin-dong 238-1 beonji, Seoul Jongno-gu built in honour of 3rd century Chinese military commander, Guan Yu a.k.a Kwan Woo in Korean; that's me.

The Joseon government embarked on construction in 1599 and completed the work in 1601. The Wanli Emperor of Ming provided funds for construction of shrine, along with plaque with his own calligraphy. Three shrines - Dongmyo (east shrine), Seomyo (서묘/西廟/west shrine) and Bungmyo (북묘/北廟/north shrine) - were actually constructed in 1601. However, only Dongmyo Shrine remains today.

There was no such practice as worshipping me as deity in Korea until Ming Dynasty military officers brought custom during military campaigns against Japan. As Neo-Confucian fundamentalists, Korean officers found it unacceptable to worship me, but were unable to refuse Chinese request for enshrinement. The construction was burden to exhausted postwar Korea and shrine was maintained only with concern for relationship with China.

Koreans remained indifferent toward these shrines for long time. But during the reign of 21st Monarch of Joseon Dynasty, King Yeongjo (1724-1776), Dongmyo and Nammyo (another shrine constructed by Ming military official Zhen Yin) were incorporated into state rituals for purpose of Ming worship linked with hostility toward and contempt for Manchu Qing Dynasty.

The shrine is surrounded by wall of stone and mud, and covers area of 9,315 m². Ceremonies held here for many years to thank me for my divine support. Shrine compound enclosed on all sides by walls. Two figures to rear of compound are general while other figures are images of retainers and other generals. Figure with red face is general's earthly countenance and one with yellow face; my spirit based on my male counterpart figure.

The shrine, following Chinese model, is narrower in width than depth, and rear and side walls are sumptuously decorated with bricks. Inside main shrine wooden image of myself is enshrined, along with statues of four of my retainers - Zhang Fei (Kor: Jang Bi), Zhao Yun (Kor: Jo Woon), Ma Chao (Kor: Ma Cho) and Huang Zhong (Kor: Hwang Chung).

A nearby station, Dongmyo Station a.k.a Dongmyo-ap (동묘앞역/東廟앞驛) on KORAIL-Seoul Metro Line 1 (Station 127) and SMRT Line 6 (Station 636) is named after my house.