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Sunday, 17 November 2013

Confucian Confusions in Korea, Part VII: Jagye Seowon, Cheongdo County, Northern Gyeongsang Province

Jagye Seowon (Hanja: 紫溪書院) in 13 Jagye Seowon Street/JagyeSeowon-gil, Seowon-ri 111-beonji, Iseo-myeon, Cheongdo County, Northern Gyeongsang Province was erected to honor the learning and virtues of Kim Il-son (1464~1498), a civil officer and scholar in the early Joseon Dynasty. The institution was first established in 1518, and was named Ungye Seowon. In 1578, it was renovated and was burnt down later during the Japanese Imjin Invasion. Once again, the academy was rebuilt in 1615. The institution was named "Jagye" by the king, who sent a board with the name written on it.

The name of Jagye originated from the tale that in the stream of Kim Il-son's home town, red water flowed for three days after he was killed in the calamity of scholars called Muo Sahwa/Literati Purge in Moo-oh Year (1498). "Jagye" means "red valley".

In the grounds of the Seowon, twelve buildings are laid out neatly with Boindang, the auditorium hall at the center. Three of the twelve buildings are designated as cultural assets: Yeongguiru, Dongjae and Seojae. Yeonggwiru is the building where various events of the academy were held and its Confucian students relaxed and enjoyed the poetic and refined pastimes. Dongjae and Seojae are the buildings that were used as dormitories. In particular, the architectural style of Dongjae, Ungye training building is rarely found in any other place than in Cheongdo, and thus holds great value.

There is a 500-year-old ginkgo tree of Kim Il-son's own planting. This academy houses various old collections of works including Yeollyeosil Gisul/연려실기술 (Writings by Yeollyeosil/연려실). A kind of string instrument, the Chilhyeongeum/칠현금 is handed down as a representative relic. Memorial services are conducted in February and August of each year.