This blog may contain not-so-strong languages and slightly strong ecchi pictures. Please proceed with caution.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Streets of Seoul, Part I: Toegye Avenue (Toegyero)

Moe Rise with Kissable Lips Korean Scholar.

Toegye Avenue a.k.a Toegyero (퇴계로/退溪路) is an avenue that stretches 3.5km (2.17 miles) from Seoul Station, Seoul Yongsan-gu to Hanyang Technical High School, Seoul Jung-gu which intersects Euljiro a.k.a Eulji Avenue. Toegyero is a part of Asian Highway Network No. 1 (AH1).

This avenue consists 6-lane motorway and bestowed from the Korean Scholar, Toegye Yi Hwang/퇴계 이황/退溪 李滉 (Born: 1501- Died: 1570). It is previously known as Honmachi (Korean: Bonjeong/본정/本町) during Japanese Colonization Period (1910~1945).

This avenue is a heaven for the bikers who seek bikers' apparels (helmets and gloves etc.) and new bikes. Prices for the bikes are cheap, starting from 1 million won (1000 won = 2.70 Malaysian Ringgit). You can add 1.5 million won more to buy Hyosung Bikes.

Seoul Station - Hoehyeon Station - Hoehyeon Intersection (4-geori) - Myeongdong Station - Toegyero 2-ga Crossroad - The Korea House - Chungmuro Station - Samsung Cheil Hospital - Toegyero 5-ga - Gwanghee Rotary - Hanyang Technical High School Intersection (3-geori)

About Toegye Yi Hwang
Yi Hwang (1501–1570) is one of the two most prominent Korean Confucian scholars of the Joseon Dynasty, the other being his younger contemporary Yi I (Yulgok). A key figure of the Neo-Confucian literati, he established the Yeongnam School and set up the Dosan Seowon, a private Confucian academy. Yi Hwang is often referred to by his pen name Toegye ("Retreating Creek"). His courtesy name was Gyeongho.

Yi Hwang was born in Toegye-ri, Dosan-myeon, Andong City, Northern Gyeongsang Province, in 1501. He belonged to the Jinseong Yi clan, and was the youngest son among eight children. A child prodigy, he learned the Analects of Confucius from his uncle at age twelve and admiring the poetry of Tao Qian, started writing poetry. His poem Yadang (hangul: 야당, hanja: 野塘, "Pond in the Wild"), written at the age of eighteen, is considered one of his major works. Around the age of twenty, he immersed himself in the study of I Ching and Neo-Confucianism.

He came to Seoul when he was 23 years old and entered the national academy Sungkyunkwan in 1523. In 1527 he passed preliminary exams to become a government official, but re-entered Sungkyunkwan at the age of 33 and socialized with the scholar Kim In-hu. He passed the civil service exams with top honors in 1534 and continued his scholarly pursuits whilst working for the government. He returned to his childhood home at the death of his mother at the age of 37 and mourned her for 3 years. He was appointed various positions from the age of 39 and sometimes held multiple positions including secret royal inspector, or Amhaengeosa (hangul: 암행어사, hanja: 暗行御史), in 1542. His integrity made him relentless as he took part in purges of corrupt government officials. On numerous occasions he was even exiled from the capital for his firm commitment to principle.

Yi Hwang was disillusioned by the power struggles and discord in the royal court during the later years of King Jungjong's reign and left political office. However, he was continuously brought out of retirement and held several positions away from the royal court and in rural areas. He was the governor of Danyang County, Northern Chungcheong Province at 48 and governor of Punggi afterwards. During his days at Pungi he redeveloped and improved the private Neo-Confucian academy Baekundong Seowon established by his predecessor Ju Se-bung.

He was named Daesaseong (대사성, head instructor) of Sungkyunkwan in 1552 but turned down other prominent offices later on. In 1560, he established the Dosan seodang and engrossed himself in meditation, study, and teaching his disciples. King Myeongjong tried to coax him back to political office, but he was steadfast in his devotion to study. He finally returned to the royal court at 67 upon the king's request when envoys from the Ming Dynasty came to Seoul. When King Myeongjong suddenly died, his successor King Seonjo appointed Yi Hwang as Yejo panseo (hangul: 예조판서, hanja: 禮曹判書, minister of rites) but he declined and returned to his home once again.

However, the king continuously called Yi Hwang back and unable to refuse further, he resumed office at the age of 68 and wrote many advisory documents including Seonghak sipdo (hangul: 성학십도, hanja: 聖學十圖, "Ten Diagrams on Sage Learning"). He also gave lectures from the teachings of Song Dynasty Confucian scholars Cheng Yi and Cheng Hao, I Ching, Analects, and Zhang Zai in royal presence. He finally retired from politics at the age of 70 and died in 1570.

During forty years of public life he served four kings (Jungjong, Injong, Myeongjong and Seonjo). On his death, Yi Hwang was posthumously promoted to the highest ministerial rank, and his mortuary tablet housed in a Confucian shrine as well as in the shrine of King Seonjo. His disciples and followers reorganized the Dosan seodang to Dosan Seowon in 1574.