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Prof. Mason and Baekdu-daegan in the Korea Herald

In the Korea Herald our own Prof. Mason speaks about his passions – Baekdu-daegan and, of course, Sanshin which he describes as “a symbol of the relationship between human beings and the ecology of the mountains where they live.” 

“Baekdu-daegan is such a huge topic related to so much of Korea’s history and traditional culture. It’s just amazing how many really important aspects of Korean Studies remain un-researched,” he told The Korea Herald.

Influenced by the mountains, “Korea developed one of the strongest and richest traditions among all countries, and its tradition remains remarkably strong, even in such a modernized high-tech country,” he said.

For those who haven’t been to his site I have included the link – although, to be honest, it is on the sidebar.  There is a lot of valuable information there with lots of pictures – so enjoy.

  • Fullslab

    Word.

  • Fullslab

    “He says that the public’s knowledge of Baekdu-daegan was largely lost as Western geographical concepts replaced traditional ones in the 20th century.”
    Damn those Western concepts!

  • R. Elgin

    I like his book on Sanshin, which is wonderful, too.

    I wonder if Koreans can deal with the idea of the Sanshin, especially considering how some of the most ignorant protestant-sects in Korea are against ancestral memorials and statues of Tangun as being forms of idolatry (?).

  • http://goldenyeongung.blogspot.com/ Yeongung

    So, two people hiked the entirety of the Baekdu-daegan? Or just the South Korean portion? Good for them, regardless.

    I’ve always been interested in ancient traditions (I hesitate to use the word “religious” even though it seems to apply), so thank you for bringing Sanshin to my attention. I’ll have to research this more.

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    Thanks for posting this, Robert Neff. The Chosun Ilbo article announcing the appointment, which happened on January 3rd, is here:
    http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2011/01/21/2011012100332.html
    An American Guide to the Baekdu-daegan Mountain Range
    — and my own page on it is here: http://san-shin.org/Bddg-HA-KFS.html
    where anybody interested can view my PowerPoint of the 1-hr speech i made to those officials, see what my ideas are and what i’m proposing should change.

    I am going to try to use this position as a platform to attempt some minor changes in public and governmental attitudes about these matters, Sisyphean as the task may continue to prove to be — stuff i’ve been advocating for over a decade, but now may have a better chance to be heard. If anybody here has any suggestions for me, either conceptually or on techniques by which to be more effective in this effort, please do post here or send me an e-mail…

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    Fullslab #2: Damn those Western concepts!

    No xenophobic rejection or rivalry is implied — it’s just that those geographical designations of separate ranges, first imposed by the Japanese colonialists, were simply inappropriate for understanding topography of the Korean Peninsula. The traditional concepts just make more sense and are more useful, which is what is behind their revival in the past 20 years.

    R. Elgin #3: I wonder if Koreans can deal with the idea of the Sanshin, especially considering how some of the most ignorant protestant-sects in Korea are against…

    That has indeed always been the major obstacle to what i’ve been trying to accomplish, and with our current president having a devoted Protestant background, similar to what we experienced with Kim Young-sam, these troubles are exacerbated. But there are also signs of improvements in some official attitudes. One high-ranking official of the Korea Forest Service who is a member of the same famous church did indeed visit my office in order to protest my ideas before the speech, to prevent me from saying such things — but in two hours of conversation i was able to ameliorate his concerns and partially win him over, by presenting evidence for and clarifying the internationally-valid and essentially-secular (or at least multi-religious-acceptable) nature of my vision of sacred mountains and their spirits for 21C Korea…

    I see it as part of a long-term national debate going on about cultural identity and the value of tradition vis-avis neo-traditionalism, that i’m trying to play a minutely-influential part in; we’ll see how that works out over the next decade or two.

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    Yeongung #4: So, two people hiked the entirety of the Baekdu-daegan? Or just the South Korean portion? Good for them, regardless.

    Yes, Roger & Andrew hiked all the accessible Baekdu-daegan crest-trail with South Korea (nobody can do within NK!), in Sept-Nov 2007, the first non-Koreans to do so that we know of. A legendary expedition! more about it and links to their blogs is on my http://baekdu-daegan.com

    so thank you for bringing Sanshin to my attention. I’ll have to research this more.

    Everyone should ;-)

  • R. Elgin

    . . . One high-ranking official of the Korea Forest Service who is a member of the same famous church did indeed visit my office in order to protest my ideas before the speech, to prevent me from saying such things — but in two hours of conversation I was able to ameliorate his concerns and partially win him over . . .

    Improving Korea, one 무식한놈 at a time.

    A very true-to-life slogan.

  • http://goldenyeongung.blogspot.com/ Yeongung

    Sanshinseon #7: “nobody can do within NK!”

    I thought so, hence my confusion.

    (How the devil does one do quotes on this thing?)

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    type blockquote before the quoted text, enclosed in . Then never forget to type /blockquote enclosed in AFTER your quoted text. B-Carr taught me that…

    OTOH, NK’s super-commandos are known to train in its lofty Baekdu-daegan mountains, so it’s possible that some of them have “hiked the crest-trail”, maybe all the way up or down Baekdu-san Geumgang-san. But we have no evidence or knowlege of any such trail….

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    oooops that didn’t show up right — in both cases in my first para above, that should be “enclosed in > and <" — except with the order of those angle-brackets reversed, OK?

  • http://goldenyeongung.blogspot.com/ Yeongung

    NK’s super-commandos

    lol