Winter in Korea – Part 3

After our trip to the Jeonju Hanok Village, we stopped by at the Gwanghalluwon (광한루원). The Gwanghalluwon was a government garden from the Joseon Dynasty, and was the setting for the Love Story of Chunhyang, the most famous love story of the late Joseon period. It also contains within its grounds a pond and a stone bridge, said to represent the Milky Way and the story of the Weaver Girl and the Cowherd, another popular love story that is celebrated in China, Japan, and Korea.

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The garden had numerous pavilions of varying sizes on the edges of the large pond said to represent the Milky Way. There was also a small island where a smaller pavilion stood.

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The story of Chunhyang goes that Chunhyang, the beautiful adopted daughter of a famous courtesan, met Mongryong Lee, a son of an aristocratic yangban family in this garden while she was on a swing. Mongryong immediately fell in love with her, and visited her mother to win her hand in marriage. Chunhyang’s mother permitted the union, but soon afterwards, Mongryong had to leave for Seoul to take a government exam. During the years that he was gone, a new Byun (district government leader, similar to a mayor) took over. He was known for being wicked and corrupt, and he spent no time in summoning Chunhyang to be his concubine. She refused, and the Byun, angry and humiliated, imprisoned her and tortured her. However, no amount of torture could convince Chunhyang to give up her promise of fidelity. Soon afterwards, Mongryong, having gained a high government position as an official after his successful exam, returned to the village. He arrested the corrupt Byun, saved Chunhyang from the prison, and they lived happily ever after.

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Another famous folk story that is referenced in this garden is the story of the Weaver Girl and the Cowherd. It is said that the celestial weaver girl and the cowherd were in love, but because their love was not allowed, they were banished to opposite sides of the Silver River (the Milky Way). But so moved were the animals at their love and their sorrow of being apart, that once a year, on the 7th day of the 7th month, a flock of magpies would form a bridge to reunite the lovers for one day. The bridge and pond were built in the garden to symbolize the Milky Way and the bridge of magpies in this story.

I know this is a short post, but school has been kind of crazy for me. Not to mention I’ve started working on another blog, this one focused on my historical reenactment hobby and the research that I do for it. Feel free to check it out if you want:

https://ladymathilde.wordpress.com/

Signing off,
Marie

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