Sungkyunkwan's Confucian ceremony
Today, Korea's oldest institute of higher learning sits on the slope of Bugaksan in downtown Seoul, tucked away behind Changdeokgung. It is a long, thin property filled with modern buildings, and at the base of the university sits the original campus.
Sungkyunkwan was founded within the original city walls of Seoul in 1398 as a royal academy of Confucianism, offering education in Confucian philosophy and literature to would-be civil servants. It trained such notable historical figures as Yi Hwang (Toegye), Jo Gwang-jo, and Yi I (Yulgok).
As Confucius was considered the great propagator of culture during the Joseon Dynasty, he was held in higher regard even than the Joseon kings and worshipped almost as a religious figure.
We will meet at 8:45am at Anguk Station exit 6. From there we take a local bus up on the slope of Bugaksan and down into the rear gate of SKKU. Walking down from there will give us a nice view of the city and campus and ensure that we don't have to walk uphill. We will see the rear wall of Changdeok Palace and take a quick tour of the modern campus grounds.
We will head downhill to visit the old campus grounds, where the Seokjeon Daeje, where there will be a very big, very solemn performance of the Seokjeon Daeje that day, a unique event held twice a year to commemorate Confucius. The Palilmu is made of eight lines of eight dancers, and 64 corresponding musical performers. It is a slow, solemn, graceful, ceremony attended by many people. The content and structure of the ritual will be explained by RASKB guides. Lunch may or may not be provided by the Confucian academy.
We will also get a close-up look at Myeongnyundang, the ancient lecture hall seen on the 1,000-won bill, as well as the 500-year-old ginkgo trees. If we are lucky, the SKKU Museum will be open this day so we can see some of the musical instruments used for the ceremony up close.
Boudewijn Walraven has been a professor of Korean Studies of Leiden University in The Netherlands and is currently attached to the Academy of East Asian Studies of Sungkyunkwan University.
Jon Dunbar worked for the Office of International Affairs of SKKU where he was called on frequently to give English-language tours of the campus.
Meet the group at the top of the stairs of Exit 6, Anguk [안국] Station (on Line 3, orange line) at 8:45am.
PLEASE RESERVE SPACE ON WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1, 2017:
NAME________________________________ MEMBER________ NONMEMBER_________
NAME________________________________ MEMBER________ NON-MEMBER_________
PHONE NO. (MOBILE) ______________________ (OFFICE / HOME) ____________________
☞ Upon confirmation, make your payments to the following account: SHINHAN BANK ACCOUNT # 100-026-383501 (RAS-KB)