“I determined to become a good-natured person rather than a good-looking person,” said Kim Gu in his writing “Baekbeom Ilji.”
Kim Gu, also known as his pen name “Baekbeom,” applied for the state examination in 1892, but there was no chance for him to pass the test already being controlled by corrupt state officials. His father recommended him to study physiognomy or geomancy instead. Upon reading a book on physiognomy titled “Mauisangseo,” Kim took a look at his own face reflected in a mirror. His own evaluation of the face remains in writing. “No single part of the face is deemed noble or prosperous, but all features are regarded lowly, poor, or ominous. Studying physiognomy to overcome depression from failing the exam has only driven me into even deeper depression.”
Baekbeom had a narrow “sangeun,” between the ridge of the nose and eyebrows, while a wide sangeun refers to happiness and wealth in physiognomy. His “Indang,” the middle of the two eyes, was also pitted with pockmarks and wrinkles, meaning that he leaves his home. A big nose and mouth, and small eyes indicate foolishness and hot temper. The ears’ edges not being round-shaped but waned imply the character that does not consider family as important, and the line between hair and the forehead not being straight but uneven shows that a person is rebellious. His nose has a sharp bridge lacking in roundness, indicating poverty. High cheekbones, a big nose, and a short chin also point to an ominous future. Kim Gu’s life was indeed eventful with him being sentenced to death, imprisoned, fleeing, seeking asylum, and assassinated.
However, Kim overcame a bad omen by physiognomy with his state of mind. Kim’s strong will, focused on achieving the independence of Korea, put him in a position far from being lowly, poor, or ominous. Rather, his face radiates benevolence, righteousness, and love, and he is still being respected in the nation as one the greatest men in history. As he also left great spiritual legacy for future generations, how could Kim’s face not be regarded noble and prosperous? We will get as we act, not as we look.