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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Confucian Confusions in Korea, Part XIII: Ojukheon Villa, Gangneung, Gangwon Province


Ojukheon Villa (Hanja: 烏竹軒) in 24 Yulgok Avenue 3139th Street/Yulgok-ro 3139beon-gil, Jukheon-dong 201-beonji, Gangneung City, Gangwon Province is an important house which shows the lifestyle of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). It is one of the oldest preserved Korean houses. In Mongryongsil room (목룡실) of Ojukheon, one of Korea's great men, Yulgok Yi I (1536-1584) was born. It is told that his mother Shin Saimdang (1504-1551), also a heroine in Korean history, had dream of a dragon before she gave birth to Yulgok. 

In remembrance of his birth, the Yulgok Festival is held annually at Ojukheon. There are many traditional materials and regional remains which are displayed in the private museum. You can find the painting of Yulgok in Munseongsa (the ancestral shrine of Yulgok). 

The Ojukheon House gets its name from the many black bamboo trees that surround it. It was here where Shin Saimdang  lived and where his son Yulgok (scholar and politician of the Joseon Period) was born. It was built during the time of the 11th King of Joseon, King Jungjong (1506~1544), and remains one of the oldest wooden residential buildings in Korea. It was designated as Korean Republic National Treasure No. 165 in 1963 and has been maintained by the descendants throughout the generations.

Inside Ojukheon there's the Yulgok Memorial Hall, Mongryongsil, where Yulgok was born, the household shrine called Munseongsa (문성사), and the entrances called Jagyeongmun (자경문), Sajumun (사주문) etc. There is also Eojaegak (어재각), which was built to preserve the inkstone and Gyeokmongyogyeol (격몽요결; a book written by Yulgok in 1577 for those beginning their studies), mementos of Yulgok. 

In the Yulgok Memorial Hall you can see the artwork of the talented Yulgok family. In addition, various Buddhist artwork, ceramics, pictures and common living appliances are on display in the Folk Tradition Hall, History Culture Hall, and the outdoor exhibition area. Near the Ojukheon Municipal Museum is Gyeongpo Beach and Seongyojang/선교장, the house of a high-class family of the Joseon Dynasty. At Gyeongpo Beach, you can relax sitting by the sea and the pine tree forest. You can also stop by the Chamsori Museum where about 1,600 phonographs from Edison's inventions to up-to-date audios are kept.

Beside Ojukheon, there is the Gangneung Municipal Museum where you can see relics from the prehistoric age and other various historical materials from different time periods.

Shin Saimdang is represented on the highest domination in Korean Republic Won - 50000 won. On the observe view shows Shin Saimdang with her painting entitled Chochungdo while the reverse view of this note shows the Pungjukdo another painting from Yulgok's wise mother. First woman to appear on this banknote and valued 10 times greater to her son, Yulgok Yi I. 

Yulgok Yi I is represented on 5000 won note (Series 2006). On the observe view shows Yulgok Yi I with his birthplace, Ojukheon while the reverse view of this note shows the Chochungdo which was made by Shin Saimdang.