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Relics of Gasa Literature가사문학과 담양
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승인 2009.05.25  00:40:18
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 Relics of Gasa Literature


By Lee Min-young, Student Editor

  Damyang, a county in Jeollanamdo, is called the “Cradle of Old Form of Korean Verse,”


I would rather die to become a fading moon throwing beams
On his window, yet to brighten the room where he dwells.
Oh dear, why not turn into drizzly rain, if not a fading moon?
- An excerpt From Samiingok

   Unexpectedly, many people were just chatting or resting. I think it has stronger role as a resting place than as a tourist resort. One of the visitors from Gwangju said, “I drop by here from time to time to have a chat in a restful atmosphere. It is quiet and makes my mind peaceful. When the wind blows, I could see the pine grove dance. I think it is the coolest place at the hottest time. ”

Courage to Act on Moral Conviction

   I think Damyang was a resting place to Jeong Cheol. Because of party strife, there was nothing for it but to move down to Damyang. For good or for evil, while he was banished, he wrote a lot of great works in Gasa literature history. When I learned of his works as a high school student, I thought of him as a greedy person who cannot control his desires and tried to attract king’s attention through his works. Now I think he was a person who does not avert hardship and keep his dreams and beliefs. While I looked around Jeongsonggang’s remains, I found out that there is a common thing in those three places. It was that they were located at higher positions than other buildings nearby. That makes the places more isolated with other circumstance and makes a calm and peaceful mind. 
  The mounment inscribed with a poem of Sungsanbyulgok
The mounment inscribed
with a poem of Sungsanbyulgok

   Sometimes in our lives, we fall into a slump or feel frustratedbut there cannot be a life without a breakdown. What we need now to survive in this society is a wise way to cope with failure and frustration. Taking a recess is a great method to overcome these negative emotions. If you want to readjust emotionally, physically and look back yourself, I think it is a good way to go to Songganjeong and recite Samiingok, thinking about Songgang Jeong Cheol’s mind.



also known as Gasa, as many literary men stayed there and left great works of Gasa literature. They especially enjoyed peaceful pavilions such as Hwanbyeokdang, Sikyeongjeong and Songganjeong, which are so called Jeongsonggang remains. The pavilions with Jeong Cheol’s remains have been loved by many Koreans until now. As Jeong Cheols pen’s name is Songgang, he is also called Jeong Songgang or Songgang Jeong Cheol, who is the preeminent example of Gasa literature in the middle of the Joseon Dynasty and stayed in Damyang after he resigned from government service.

It was not his first time to come to Damyang. When he was 16, his family moved to Damyang after his father’s exile was over. His learning was based on teachings from Kim Yoon-je, his first teacher who he met in Damyang. This learning became his background for writing his great work, Samiingok about a woman who misses her dead husband and Sungsanbyulgok about the four beautiful seasons. Let’s follow his legacy and think about his breadth of mind with a Tribune Reporter.

Hwanbyeokdang, Destiny Met 

   On April 11, this reporter visited Damyang which takes an hour by local bus from Gwangju. The road to it was in full bloom with beautiful cherry blossoms. Alight from the bus, I could see Hwanbyeokdang across from the streamside. Hwanbyeokdang, administratively located in Gwangju, is at the boundary of Gwangju and Damyang. There was just an old and small building remaining but I could know that it was a very big house site from the large yard. Because it was built upon the terrace of a sloping road, I could see the whole garden and vicinity. When I looked around, even though Hwanbyeokdang is local memorial No.1, it looked like a deserted old house. This reporter could see much time flowed away by seeing the big tree in the front yard. 


  When this reporter arrived there, it was early morning, so I could only hear the sounds of birds and bugs. I felt like there was no one around but nature and me. The sunshine was so warm that it made me want to take a nap hearing nature’s lullaby. The amazing story about how Jeongcheol and Kim Yoon-je met flash across my mind. Kim Yoon-je, who built Hwanbyeokdang took a nap and dreamt about a dragon. It flew up to the sky at Yongso which is a pond in the front of Hwanbyeokdang. He awoke with a start and ran to Yongso and he found that a little boy was swimming there. He took him as his disciple and taught him a variety of scholarships. That little boy was Jeongcheol! It was quite lucky and Jeongcheol had his life changed. While he stayed there, he met a lot of scholars and learned much from them. After a few years, he got married with Kim Yoon-je’s granddaughter and studied there until he entered politics. 

   Moving to Sikyeongjeong, it was very sad to see that Hwanbyeokdang has not been cared for for so long. Every piece of cultural heritage should be protected and cared for, not by someone but from everyone. If we think of preservation, it could be a great historical remain for our future generations.

Sikyeongjeong, Where Shadows Also Rest 

   Sikyeongjeong is about 300 meters away from Hwanbyeokdang, just across a big road. Soswaewon, a typical garden in the middle of the Joseon Dynasty, and the Gasa Literature Museum are nearby to Sikyeongjeong. Most tourists visit Soswaewon and the Gasa Literature Museum first and park their cars there and walk to Sikyeongjeong. Some tourist groups and families were given a tour of the places.

   Sikyeongjeong means shadows also rest in literal translation, but the real meaning is there are no shadows on the forest. It means a life that getting out of the secular world and living in the natural world. Sikyeongjeong has eight angle roofs with a room not in the middle but in a corner. So it has a floor not only in the front but also on the side. It is where Jeong Cheol wrote Sungsanbyulgok, which is about the four beautiful seasons around Sikyeongjeong and talks about the attitude to life of Kim Seong-won, who studied with Jeongcheol. It shows the pleasures of rural life demonstrated by his real experiences.

   When I walked up the stone stairway, there was Sikyeongjeong surrounded by Gwangju lake and pine trees. While I sat down and looked around, I felt a sense of relaxation in my mind. Thinking of the meaning of Sikyeongjeong, it would be a good place to take a rest to modern people who seldom have time. One of the tourists from Boseong said, “Sikyeongjeong’s surrounding scenery suits the area well, with the Gwangju lake and bamboo trees. Especially, cherry blossoms are full bloom, so I think I have picked the best day to come here.”

Songganjeong, Peaceful Pavilion of Jeong Cheol 

    After Jeong Cheol left the political world, he stayed at Songganjeong for four years. While he lived there, he came and went to Sikyeongjeong and wrote his famous works such as Samiingok and Sokmiingok. Climbing the 97 stone steps to Songganjeong, I felt excited like I was walking the way to the secret garden. At the front of it, there was a hanging board written ‘Songganjeong’, on the left side and there was ‘Jungrokjeong’’ written which is the old name of Songganjeong.

   The pine trees around Songganjeong were drowning out the noise from a big road next to it. Looking at the surrounding pine grove, I suddenly realized the plants are a symbol of fidelity. Maybe it would make Jeong Cheol think about king and pledge his faithfulness to the king. While he was staying here, he wrote Samiingok which is singing about his yearnings toward the king figuratively as a woman who lost her husband and still loves him.


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