Korean Garden Cultures—Longing for the Immortal

Sim Woo-kyung
Tuesday, April 12, 2016 -
7:30pm to 9:00pm
Second floor Residents’ Lounge, Somerset Palace
10,000 won for non-members and 5,000 won for students (with student ID); free for members

The garden is a record of the uniqueness of a culture in time and place. It is essential to maintain and celebrate cultural diversity in a landscape to acknowledge the contributions to garden art being made by ethnic group world over. Gardens attempted to recreate paradise, becoming ever more elaborate versions of the rational mind's vision of heaven. Garden makers in history have been intent on creating earthly paradise. All the people have wishes to live in the paradise, but the concept of the paradise has been differently imagined by the Eastern or the Western cultures, especially according to their religions. The Western cultures have been deeply influenced by the Judeo-Christian and Islamic which believe in the only God [monotheism], but the Eastern by Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Animism, Totemism and Shamanism that believe in the many gods [polytheism].

In the Western world which has developed from the desert, a prototype of garden was where human beings were protected by high wall from hot sandy wind and fearful animals, and where cool water and fruit trees were well supplied to live safely. On the contrary, in the Eastern world which has developed from beautiful natural environment, the prototype was where people could realize the longevity in the immortal world through living harmoniously with nature.

Korean traditional garden culture has developed uniquely under the beautiful natural environment and various religious influences. Thus final goal of Korean garden cultures has been the immortal world. Though Korea and Koreans are proud of their country and people, they are still largely unknown in the world.

Dr. Sim Woo-kyung 五峯 沈愚京

- Emeritus Professor of Landscape Planting and Garden History, Korea University, Seoul
- President, Research Institute for Spiritual Environments [R.I.S.E.]
- Director, OBONG Academy for Research Institute for Spiritual Environments
- Chair, Promotion Committee for Founding University of Global Environment Conservation

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Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch
Room 611, Korean Christian Building, Daehak-ro 19 (Yeonji-dong), Jongno-gu, Seoul 03129
[03129] 서울시 종로구 대학로 19 (연지동) 한국기독교회관 611호

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