Seonbi village tour opens doors to Confucian heritage

by Yi, Eung-Hyun
USAG Daegu Public Affairs

DAEGU GARRISON — Seonbi-chon preserves the roots of spiritual Koreanae is highly recommended to anyone who would like to experience and learn about the cultural heritage of Korea’s classical scholars’ loyalty and filial piety.

‘Seonbi’ refers to the word classical scholars, but does not have the same meaning as western culture. Knowing the concept of ‘Seonbi’ would also help with understanding Korean culture and as well part of the overall oriental culture. Korea had a class system in the past and it’s has been just about a hundred years since a more western-style became the norm.

Seonbi was the noble class. There is a reason the Seonbi were also called classical scholars. From their birth, study became their life. Studying included academic literature, archery, martial arts, music, drawing, the thoughts of loyalty and filial piety. Studying not only aimed to increase knowledge, but at character-building as well.

Only the noble class had permission to take exams for government service and academia. The average person was not allowed to study in the term of social norms and context. Those with some academic talents were even considered a misfortune or cursed. Parents didn’t let their children learn anything even if they had really the talent.

This social discrimination extended particularly to women. Social structure and norms didn’t allow women to speak out at public place. They could not even be part of government service. The discrimination between men and women was the norm in that society. This is one facet of Confucianism and its culture.

All historical facts which you want to know about Korean Confucianism are collected in Seonbi-chon village. The village consists of three parts.

-‘Sosuseowon’ which was the first officially approved private Confucian academy, also considered as first university.

-‘Sosu Museum’ which is the only comprehensive Confucian museum with neo-Confucianism in Korea.

-‘Seonbi-chon’ which is the living place of noble men in Chosun dynasty and the origin place of Seonbi culture.

‘Sosuseowon’ was established by a Confucian teacher who was governor of the region. His successor was Lee, Hwang a  famous Confucian. His portrait is used on the Korean 1000 Won note, so anybody can see his face. He made ‘Sosuseowon’ into a highly qualified Confucian education center. National treasures, old portraits and various kinds of cultural properties are preserved there.

‘Sosu Museum’ has collected the cultural assets of Young-ju and Confucianism. The museum systemized traditional cultural assets of Confucianism and is the place where you can find the root of national spirit.

‘Seonbi-chon’ was reconstructed to preserve the spirit of Seonbi and is utilized as the place to teach the spirit of Seonbi. Various kinds of events are provided to help understand the Seonbi life style.

Anyone interested in expanding their Korean cultural knowledge should stop by and give Seonbi-chon village a visit.

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