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Spiritual culture of flagship seowons from Joseon Dynasty

Spiritual culture of flagship seowons from Joseon Dynasty

Posted October. 01, 2018 07:56,   

Updated October. 01, 2018 07:56


New books have been recently published to shed light on six seowons, which are signature facilities for studying humanities during the Joseon Dynasty, and on spiritual culture contained in them. The books are "Seoksil Seowon," "Dosan Seowon," "Deokcheon Seowon," "Oksan Seowon," "Donam Seowon" and "Pilam Seowon," which have been published recently by the Academy of Korean Studies.

While conventional books would mostly address seowon as architectural structures and tourism sites, the new books are spotlighting on the value of seowon as assets of spiritual culture and humanities. The books focus on seowon and people honored by them and their thoughts and activities, while comprehensively addressing related philosophy, literature, history, art and folklore, as well as architecture and economy. Thirty-one experts participated in the book writing.

"Korean seowons" are under review for registration as UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage, and decision will be made at the World Heritage Committee, which will take place in July 2019. The Academy of Korean Studies will publish more books to introduce other seowons, related people, thoughts, and spirit every year.

“Seowons are private higher education institutions in the Joseon Dynasty, and were the academic base for intellectuals and center of Seongnihak (Neo-Confucianism), and served as the hub of education, culture and public opinion for respective regions,” the institution said. “The newly published books will introduce the characteristics of each seowon by region, school of thought, and political faction.”

Jong-Yeob JO jjj@donga.com