“Paths of the Lost Kingdom” Walking Tour: Part 2

5. Old city light tower replica 옛 등대 복원지

The two replica light towers that sit atop the hill overlooking the lowland river valley where the old city is situated are based on those that existed at Hallim’s Kosan 한림 고산 and Sŏgwip’o’s Taep’o 서귀포 대포 harbors. Light towers of the like were built at other harbors around Cheju and they were all of varied forms. One existed at the harbor of Yongdam-dong 용담동 where a village emerged around a coastal spring some 400 years ago. During the medieval and Chosŏn Dynasty periods, a small harbor existed at the mouth of Sanjich’ŏn 산지천, but the more important harbor that served the old city was actually at Hwabuk 화북. Cheju lacks significant major natural harbors and it actually was not until the twentieth century that any truly major port existed here. Even when the Chosŏn Dynasty, during its last-ditch attempt at self-strengthening, commissioned its first steamship to sail to Cheju at the end of the 19th century, the ship had no suitable place to anchor at Cheju. Cheju was likely never a major maritime power as some might imagine (with exaggeration), and yet at the same time Cheju was not completely isolated.

Cheju depended much on the sea and hence major ancient settlements such as Samyang 삼양 and Yongdam 용담 tended to be close to the coast. Although historical records on ancient T’amna activities are very scarce, the “Accounts of the Eastern Barbarians” 東夷傳 section of the Chinese Sanguozhi 三國志 completed sometime after 280, notes the existence of an island south of Mahan 마한 called “Zhouhu” 洲胡 (Kr: Chuho 주호). Mahan refers to the precursor of the Korean Paekche 백제 kingdom, which was concentrated in the Ch’ungch’ŏng 충청 and Chŏlla 전라 regions, and so Chuho theoretically refers to ancient Cheju. From this record, one can conclude that as early as the Han Dynasty, Cheju islanders had engaged in trade with mainland Korea as well as Han Dynasty China. These early contacts have also further been confirmed with the 1928 discovery of Han coins at the old port of Sanjich’ŏn. From the Japanese Nihon Shoki 日本書紀 and the Chinese Jiu Tangshu 舊唐書, we also know that T’amna dispatched representatives to the Japanese Asuka 飛鳥 and Chinese Tang 唐朝 courts in 645 and 662. American geographer David J. Nemeth, who wrote his dissertation on Cheju’s geomancy culture in 1984, also noted that Cheju Island’s geographical features make it a strong candidate for the mythical island of immortality in ancient Chinese folklore and indeed one of Cheju’s many names include “Yingzhou” 瀛洲 (Yŏngju 영주), the blessed land. While many historical records have been lost to us, the numerous instances of castaways, historical attestations of T’amna’s visits to other lands, and archeological evidence of a relatively active ancient maritime trade suggest that there Cheju’s myths and legends may reflect more about Cheju’s history than at first glance.

The theme of deities coming from beyond the seas recurs in Cheju’s complex mythology. Two major myths featuring this theme are the Three Clans Myth (Samsŏng Sinhwa 삼성신화) and the epic narrative of Paekchu Halmang 백주 할망. In both myths, goddesses represent agriculture, sophistication, and civilization in contrast to their hunter-gatherer male counterparts. In Samsŏng Sinhwa, the king of Pyŏngnang 병랑, which is often interpreted to be Japan, sent his three daughters along with livestock and grain seeds westward over to the land of T’amna after seeing shafts of light flash over the horizon. The story of a foreign-origin agricultural goddess is more defined in the epic myth of Paekchu Halmang, the high patron goddess of Songdang’s 송당 main shrine and ancestress to many of Cheju’s deities. Paekchu Halmang is known to her worshipers as a great goddess of purity and prosperity. She married the hunter-gather Soch’ŏn’guk, but divorced him after he ate not only their oxen but also the oxen of neighbors. The story of Paekchu Halmang’s and Soch’ŏn’guk’s son Songgoksŏng, which literary scholar Cho Tong’il (1997) suggests may actually be the myth of T’amna’s first king, relates a grand epic adventure in which he becomes a conquering hero while in exile abroad. T’amna in prehistoric times likely consisted of different groups that entered the island in different waves of migration via the sea or via a land bridge that once connected Cheju to continental Asia. In the Ch’ilsŏng Ponp’uri, the seven snake spirits born from the foreign goddess Ch’ilsŏng’agi can bring disaster if not attended to but can also bring great wealth. Common features in all these narratives are that foreign deities, often goddesses, not only bestow prosperity but also bring the means to make it possible. Considering the difficulties that Cheju people had to endure in order to successfully farm, the matter that agricultural goddesses are given such high esteem comes as no surprise. Another feature of these myths are the similarities they share with the spread of beliefs via maritime trade in East Asia – the goddess Ma Tsu 媽祖 in Taiwan, for example, is worshipped as a deity of protection for seafarers but appears to have been a popularization of Guan Yin 觀音菩薩 (Kwan Ŭm; Sanskrit: Avalokitesvara – bodhisattva of compassion and protection) worship carried by sailors. That many of Cheju’s deities have a backstory of being from abroad seems to follow this pattern.

6. Sanjich’ŏn 산지천

Sanjich’ŏn was once a stream that flowed from Hallasan. It brought water to ancient Jeju City and served as a communal laundry place. It was mostly dry and little more than a creek for much of the year as water often seeped through quickly in Cheju’s rocky and volcanic earth. Like Seoul’s Ch’ŏnggyech’ŏn 청계천, Sanjich’ŏn became heavily polluted as Cheju City grew and was actually covered up for development some decades ago. It was restored recently and now again is subject to redevelopment, which could become a flood hazard as the stream is now perpetually full of water. Though this stream is hardly impressive, its importance to early Cheju City cannot be overstated. The mouth of Sanjich’ŏn served as a port and, along with Pyŏngmunch’ŏn 병문천 on the west side of the old walls, a water source.

Until as late as the twentieth century, fresh water was a scare resource and so Cheju people depended heavily on what they could get from freshwater creeks and springs. Though Cheju is infamous for its fickle weather and its frequent rains, its soil does not retain water very well – most of the rainwater is lost as runoff. Dry half for half of the year, Cheju’s streams tend to be natural flood control channels rather than actual rivers. Though freshwater springs can be found in inland areas such as Hoech’ŏn 회천, the Goldilocks zone for early settlements had to fit three requirements: 1) a freshwater source; 2) land suitable for basic horticulture; and 3) access to the sea. For these reasons, from the 6th century to the Chosŏn Dynasty, settlement patterns in Cheju were consistent. Because of Cheju’s geographical constraints, even today’s Cheju City had remained consistent throughout much of its history. The district names of Ildo 일도, Ido 이도, and Samdo 삼도 all refer to three domains of the Tamna’s three founders and these three domains were noted in Chosŏn Dynasty records.

In 1211, T’amna had two counties – T’amna-hyŏn 탐라현 and Kwidŏk-hyŏn 귀덕현. These were further subdivided as subordinate counties (sokhyŏn 속현) into the many of the village and town names we now recognize in Cheju – Kwiil 귀일 (today’s Hagwi 하귀 and Sanggwi 상귀), Gonae 고내, Aewol 애월, Kwakji 곽지, Myŏngwŏl 명월, Sinchon 신촌, Hamdŏk 함덕, Kimnyŏng 김녕, Ch’agwi 차귀 (today’s Kosan 고산), Hoch’on 호촌 (today’s Sillye 신례 and Harye 하례), Hongno 홍로 (today’s Tonghong-tong 동홍동), T’osan 토산, Yerae 예래, and Sanbang 산방 (Kim 2004:12). Depending on size, each village had one to four managing officials. Aside from T’amnasŏng and Kwidŏk, T’amna’s residents – roughly up to 30,000 during medieval times – were largely concentrated within these villages. Some of these villages, however, had their beginnings far earlier than medieval times as archeological remains can attest. By the 6th to 10th century, Cheju’s settlements tended to concentrate closer to the coastal lowlands and by estuaries where streams open into the sea. Until agriculture was better developed in the Chosŏn Dynasty, medieval Cheju settlements were typically concentrated in the north and in the vicinity of today’s Cheju City, facing the peninsular mainland and the Northeast Asian trade routes.

While Cheju is nowadays known for its abundant mandarin orange orchards and barley fields, in antiquity and during the medieval period, most of the island was unsuitable for farming. To get an idea of how rocky and difficult Cheju’s terrain was (and still is), one can take into consideration that it literally took centuries for walled fields to appear across the island – the earliest detailed accounts of what we take for granted as Cheju-style farming comes only from the Chosŏn Dynasty and yet from as early as the Koryŏ period Cheju Island is noted for its oceanic products. Even today, rice only grows in specific parts of the island such as Hanon 하논 Crater. For most of its history, Cheju was a very tough environment and hence we see this reflected in Cheju’s traditionally strong shamanistic culture and recurrent themes of struggle and abject poverty in its oral literature.

7. Ko Family House 고 씨 가옥

This house was a residence of a branch of the larger Ko clan. Though this particular house actually dates from the twentieth century, it is nonetheless an important part of old Cheju City’s history. This house, first constructed in 1922, perfectly fuses both Japanese and Korean architectural elements. While the layout of the house follows that of a typical Korean home – absent of a central corridor more typical in Japanese homes – it used shoji-style sliding doors and once had tatami mat coverings over its Korean ondol flooring. The building material was all imported from Japan and thus the house is made of hinoki 檜 (Japanese cypress) rather than wood native to Cheju or the Korean peninsula. Thanks to JICEA’s (Jeju International Culture Exchange Association 제주국제교류협회) grassroots citizen activism, this house, as well as four other structures significant to modern historical memory in the immediate area, was spared destruction in the current “T’amna Culture Plaza” project. While one explores old Cheju City and sees the ceaseless content-less redevelopment in the area, it is pertinent to ask what exactly “T’amna” and “Culture” means.

Cheju “culture” has to be explained in the legacy of “T’amna” and that legacy is still present with us today so long as there are people seeking to keep it alive. It also has to be considered in terms of contemporary memory and how people have experienced the island’s tumultuous history. In the flesh, the Ko clan exists here and now but their story is also an indelible part of the greater story of T’amna. Descendants of the Ko clan have maintained prominence not only from the colonial period but from as far back as the T’amna period. The surnames Ko 고, Yang 양, and Pu 부 are particularly important to ancient Cheju Island. As noted in the “Samsŏng Sinhwa,” these three clans were the island’s traditional elites.

During the Koryŏ dynasty, two figures of the Ko clan earned their place in the official royal histories: Ko Yu 고유 and his son Ko Chogi 고조기. The stories of Ko Yu 高維 and Ko Chogi 高兆基 are examples of T’amna’s ambiguous relationship with the Koryŏ kingdom. Ko Yu was the first T’amna person to take the Koryŏ civil service examination and receive an official court position, but his ascent into the inner circles of Kaegyŏng was via an exam specifically for foreigners and it took some time before he managed to attain a high rank (Ko 2007: 58). Ko Chogi, following his father’s success, however, took an exam that was reserved for Koryŏ subjects. Ko Chogi’s story in the 98th volume of the Koryŏsa 고려사 is as follows:

“Ko Chogi, whose first name was “Tang’yu,” was a person of T’amna. His father was (Ko) Yu, a man of Ubok rank in the Sangsŏsŏng, (Department of State Affairs 尙書省).[1] Chogi had a generous nature, was widely read in literature and histories, and he especially labored over five-character style verse poetry. At the beginning of the time of King Yejong, he succeeded in the examinations, and went out as the magistrate (守) of Namju to serve with integrity. During King Injong’s reign, he was appointed as Censor (侍御史). While Yi Chagyŏm 李資謙 repaired Honggyŏngwŏn temple 弘慶院, Chief Rectifier of Monks 僧正 Cha Pu and the Chisujusa 知水州事 Pong U were entrusted with the task and had able-bodied young men of the provinces and prefectures forcibly conscripted for the task, causing much disruption. After Yi Chagyŏm was defeated following his failed insurrection[2], Cha Pu was found complicit in the conspiracy and exiled to an island. But Pong U, thanks to his collusion with common palace eunuchs, was spared and able to be reinstated. Chogi thrice spoke up. Having aroused the anger of the king for acting insubordinate, he was demoted to the office of Wŏnwirang (Supernumerary Senior Recorder) but afterwards again became a Censor official. At the time of Yi Chagyŏm’s rebellion, all officials were threatened with danger and while in pursuit they lost their integrity and there were many, even the prime minister, of those who depended upon their connections to avoid punishment. Chogi, intending to defeat them, again and again raised his pen in protest, saying, ‘Even if their faults are covered over because of the generosity of those higher up, with what face do they stand in court when they look upon the sun and moon ?” Though the king considered Chogi’s words correct, he could not bear to do away with the great ministers. Chogi was appointed and selected as the Yebunangjung (Director of the Bureau of Rites), but in reality the high offices were usurped. As soon as King Ŭijong 毅宗 ascended the throne, he was appointed a Chŏngdangmunhak of the Chancellery 拜政堂文學 and as he was moved up to the rank of Chamjijŏngsa he achieved the rank of the Chungsŏsirang Pyeongjangsa 中書侍郞平章事 (Manager of Affairs with the Secretariat and Chancellery). When Kim Chonjung abused his authority, Chogi was criticized for bending over to him. He was impeached by the Kan’gwan (Remonstrance Official) and then was demoted to a Sangsŏjwabogya 降爲尙書左僕射. He turned to Kim Chonjung’s help and not many months later he again returned to office. He served for some time and finally died in the 11th year (1157) without heirs. Meetings at the court were suspended for three days and the concerned authorities ordered mourning rites and the granting of a posthumous title.”

Ko Chogi’s tomb today is located near Jeju Girls’ Middle School in Ara-dong.

[1] “Ubokya” was not an actual office position even while it was a title of second rank, but seemed to be reserved for those who earned their merit but could not find an appropriate office.

[2] Yi Chagyŏm is notorious in Koryŏ history for his excesses and having led an insurrection to usurp Koryŏ court power in 1126.

“Paths of the Lost Kingdom” Walking Tour: Part I

This is a summary of the historical events and sites mentioned in the April 26th “Paths of the Lost Kingdom” tour, the first English-language tour of Jeju International Culture Exchange Association’s (JICEA) Wŏndosim Yet’gil T’amhŏm (Jeju City Old Town Survey Excursion). “Paths of the Lost Kingdom” was a tour of Cheju Island under the ancient T’amna civilization and encompassed history – with a few digressions – from the 3rd century to 1404. This course focuses on Jeju’s mythological and historical past of the T’amna civilization in the space of modern Cheju City. Participants will be invited to envision ancient Cheju’s past while they explore the legacy of its millennia-old history. A chronological presentation is impossible as sites are scattered all around the city. The purpose is instead to show the continued presence of Cheju tradition. For this course, the “T’amna Kingdom” and “T’amna civilization” are differentiated – the former refers to the autonomous T’amna state, which lasted from sometime in the 3rd century until it’s official 1105 annexation, while the latter refers to Cheju’s native culture, which was not fully absorbed until the first few decades of the Chosŏn Dynasty (1392-1910).

Each section below is divided in accord to the April 26 itinerary noted in parentheses next to the associated theme. As the content is as long as the course (the entire course took 3 hours!), the itinerary and the information will be posted in three parts. Following standard American academic conventions, all Korean names are Romanized in the McCune-Reischauer system. I include the Korean script beside names.

What was the Tamna civilization?

Due to the absence and loss of historical records, Tamna’s past remains shrouded in mystery. There is no definite agreement on when T’amna began. In the Korean Samguksagi, “T’amnaguk” appears in the year 476 in the records of King Munju of the Paekche kingdom. While the earliest possible references to Tamna appear in the Chinese Sanguozhi, which was compiled sometime after 280, and the legend of Qin Shi Huang’s (r.220-210 BCE) emissary Xu Fu, little is certain. T’amna’s annexation to the Korean mainland kingdom is also a topic of debate as there are three main suggested possibilities: at the beginning of the Koryŏ Dynasty (918-1392), in the year 1105 when it was officially designated a Koryŏ prefecture, or even in the 4th year of King T’aejong (1404) of Chosŏn when Cheju’s native titles were abolished. In any case, when we speak of “civilization” we also have to take into account that contrary to the recent tendency to exaggerate T’amna’s clout in Northeast Asia as an alleged “maritime” kingdom or excessively grandiose presentations of its pantheon, Cheju Island’s T’amna culture was never a major regional power and frequently found itself at the mercy of the peninsular kingdoms. On the other hand, Cheju truly does have unique traditions and historical experiences that are worth examining. As local folklorist Mun Mubyŏng (2012) observed, Cheju historically was at the intersection between cultural flows from the northern Altaic regions via continental Northeast Asia and the southern Southeast Asian and Buddhist regions via the oceanic southwest-to-northeast Kuroshio Current. Despite its semi-colonial relationship with the Korean mainland, Cheju managed to maintain a distinctive culture and worldview that still remains relevant to the present.

Although Cheju was considered a desolate island of exile during the Chosŏn Dynasty, many followers of the island’s native spiritual practices saw themselves as being an indelible part of a vast universe of some thousands of deities. Cheju possesses a complete epic myth of creation, connecting the human world as experienced in Cheju with the universe beyond. What we call “shamanism” is deeply embedded in Cheju’s culture and worldviews even to the present. Though Cheju City’s urbanization has been drastically transforming the landscape and lifestyles of the island, some traditions continue to survive and have become representative of Cheju Island’s heritage. Narratives are inscribed into Cheju’s landscapes and cityscapes. What has now become “Cheju shamanism” perhaps served as the guiding principles for people of the ancient indigenous T’amna civilization. Given the lack or loss of historical records, however, the “beginning” of T’amna is told only in mythology.

1. Cheju Cosmology (Chilmeoridang 칠머리당 / Sarabong 사라봉)

Understanding Cheju’s traditional cosmology is a first step in attempting to acquire an understanding of the island’s ancient civilization. Cheju mythology begins with Ch’ŏnjiwang Ponp’uri 천지왕 본풀이(the “Origin Epic of the King of Heaven and Earth”), which is the creation myth recited at the opening Ch’ogamje rite in all shrines across Cheju Island including Ch’ilmŏridang. Connecting the human world with that of the celestial, shamans begin the genealogy of the local gods with the beginning of time itself. “Ponp’uri” literally means “unravelling the origins.” It brings together the other world of the gods and this world so that people can situate themselves as part of a greater universe.

Ch’ŏnjiwang Ponp’uri narrates the creation of the universe as we know it. Several variations of the same myth exists all across Jeju and so the version used here is a summary provided in Hyŏn Yongjun’s Cheju Sinhwa (1996). In the beginning, there was pure Chaos. The cosmos opened its head at the direction of the Ox and Time began. From this Chaos emerged Ch’ŏnjiwang, the King of Heaven and Earth.  Ch’ŏnjiwang sought to bring Order out of Chaos and so he went down to Earth to propose a marriage with the Lady of the Earth, Ch’ongmaeng Puin 총맹부인. Ch’ongmaeng Puin was unfortunately so impoverished that she had nothing proper to offer and so she went to her neighbor Sumyŏngjangja 수명장자 for a loan of rice. Sumyŏngjangja was notoriously greedy and cheated Ch’ongmaeng Puin by secretly mixing the rice with sand. When Ch’ŏnjiwang discovered Sumyŏngjangja’s deed, he became furious and unleashed the wrath of all the heavens upon Sumyŏngjangja’s household. But because Ch’ŏnjiwang unleashed such furious power, he had to bring some semblance of peace by performing the universe’s first kut 굿, a shamanic ritual. Ch’ŏnjiwang and Ch’ongmaeng Puin consummated their marriage and had two sons, Taebyŏl 대별 (“Great Star”) and Sobyŏl 소별 (“Little Star”). His part of the story done, Ch’ŏnjiwang returned to heaven while Ch’ongmaeng Puin raised their sons.

While Ch’ŏnjiwang Ponp’uri shares much with Abrahamic traditions, a particular feature of Cheju’s story of creation is that it gives a humanistic view of cosmology in which the universe is not only imperfect from the beginning but the gods themselves are also flawed characters. The universe in the beginning was truly chaos – there were two suns and two moons, there was no real distinction between the living and the dead, and animals could speak. Even though Ch’ŏnjiwang fulfilled his cosmic obligation to join Ch’ongmaeng Puin in marriage, the universe did not achieve a perfect order. This task was left to Taebyŏl and Sobyŏl. Taebyŏl was tasked with managing this world 이승 while Sobyŏl was tasked with managing the underworld 저승. Sobyŏl, however, was jealous of his older brother and so challenged him to a flower-raising contest. Sobyŏl cheated but Taebyŏl nonetheless accepted the result and took up stewardship of the underworld. But Sobyŏl was unable to manage this world and so he called his older brother to help. Taebyŏl shot down one of the suns and one of the moons, hardened the tongues of animals so that they would not speak, and firmly separated the worlds of the living and the underworld. But because Taebyŏl had to return to the underworld and because Sobyŏl was incompetent, the underworld became a paradise while this world experiences suffering. As people of an island that was historically plagued with extreme hardship, mythology appears to reflect Cheju inhabitants’ traditional attitude of perseverance with uncertainty.

Cosmology is also reflected in the name of Cheju’s most important geological feature – Hallasan. The three Classical Chinese characters that comprise “Hallasan” translate to “the peak (山) that pulls (拏) the Milky Way galaxy (漢).” In many cultures and civilizations around the world, the Milky Way galaxy is the central axis from around which the universe turns. Astral symbolism repeats also in deity names such as Taebyŏl and Sobyŏl, Ch’ilsŏng (Seven Stars) worship in household ritual, and even the form of ancient Cheju City around the Ch’ilsŏngdae complex of seven altars.

Sarabong 沙羅, too, figures into the narrative of T’amna’s history. In “Tamna Yŏlchŏn” section of the late 18th century Tongsa written by Yi Chonghwi (1731-1797), Sarabong is mentioned to be the hill from which Ko, Yang, and Pu shot their arrows to determine their respective domains. Sarabong’s name refers to the glow of the sunset over its ridge, which appears like yellow silk (sa 沙 – sand, light silk) wrapped (ra 羅) over the hill (pong 峰).

One should be aware that the original site of Ch’ilmŏridang was actually closer to the harbor. Due to development, the shrine was twice moved. The present shrine is the third site. In 2009 at the Abu Dhabi convention, Ch’ilmŏridang Yŏngdŭng-kut was awarded UNESCO World Heritage designation. Though originally a rural tradition, Ch’ilmŏridang Yŏngdŭng-kut has become a part of Cheju City’s urban heritage and remains relevant as a crucial part of the city’s cultural identity.

2. Yŏngdŭng-kut 영등굿 (former Ch’ilmŏridang site 옛 칠머리당 터)

The original Ch’ilmŏridang was at a position much closer to the sea since the shrine rituals here were important to fishermen and women divers. Ch’ilmŏridang being moved more than once is not an unusual event as coastal development has either demolished shrines or forced their relocation. The construction of the coastal roads that people now take for granted was particularly devastating for heritage sites. Yet Yŏngdŭng-kut has managed to persist to the present. How long this will remain an actual practice of spiritual significance rather than simply preserved “heritage,” however, is the question.

“Yŏngdŭng” is the deity of the wind. Yŏngdŭng in the Ch’ilmŏridang tradition is female, but Yŏngdŭng is also sometimes considered male in parts of eastern Cheju (particularly Chongdal 종달, Sinch’ang 신창, Sinyang 신양, and Sinch’ŏn 신천). This deity is said to reside far beyond Cheju across the seas and comes in the second lunar month of every year to be entertained by inhabitants of seaside villages all across the island for two weeks. During this festival-like period, women divers and fishermen traditionally abstained from work. Weather conditions on the day of Yŏngdŭng Maji 영등 맞이, which is the first day of the second lunar month when Yŏngdŭng arrives, also have a particular interpretation – should the day of Yŏngdŭng Maji be foggy or rainy it means that Yŏngdŭng came with his or her daughter-in-law and that the two are quarrelling but should the weather be fine it means that his or her daughter has come on a pleasure visit. Yŏngdŭng departs from Cheju after making a full clockwise circuit and stops by the island of Udo 우도 before returning to the land beyond on the fourteenth day of the second lunar month.

Cheju people are all too aware of the potential dangers of the sea, even as they had traditionally depended upon it. While often regarded as “superstition,” traditional practices such as the two-week Yŏngdŭng-kut cycle reflects actual natural phenomena that Cheju islanders have noticed for centuries. In interviews with women divers regarding this cycle, which is tied to both the lunar and seasonal phases in the second lunar month, waters around Cheju tend to become rough and weather makes aquatic activity difficult. The Yŏngdŭng-kut period is also observed in rural Cheju Buddhist tradition in the form of the Dragon King Rite 용왕제. Though Cheju Buddhists emphasize the Dragon King, the sovereign god of the sea and another deity celebrated in Yŏngdŭng-kut, in some cases Yŏngdŭng is acknowledged.

3. T’amna Buddhism (Tongjabok 동자복 / Mansusa temple site 만수사)

Tongjabok’s precise age is unknown, but scholars generally agree that it is a product of the Koryŏ Dynasty 고려왕조 (918-1392) period of medieval Korea. Tongjabok presided at a temple at the eastern side of ancient Cheju City, serving as the counterpart of Sŏjabok 서자복, was situated in the west. Chosŏn Dynasty 조선왕조 governor Yi Wŏnjin’s 이원진 T’amnaji 탐라지 composed in 1653 noted the existence of a temple at Tongjabok’s site. Tongjabok is a representation of Mirŭk 미륵, the Maitreya Buddha. Conceptions of Maitreya Buddha as a quasi-deity of abundance and protection is widespread across East Asia in the form of the Chinese and Japanese “laughing Buddhas” that adorn shops and practices of Mirŭk worship in rural Korea. While its purpose is contrary to scholastic Buddhism even for the Koryŏ Dynasty, Tongjabok nonetheless is a clear indicator of Buddhism’s presence on Cheju Island during medieval times.

Most scholarship agree that Buddhism entered Cheju during the Koryŏ Dynasty. This is attested in archeological findings of known temple sites. Some insist, however, that Buddhism may have been introduced as early as seventh and eighth centuries via T’amna’s contacts with Tang China, Asuka Japan, and the Korean Three Kingdoms; even though T’amna was a tiny country (its population was possibly somewhere around 30,000 during the Koryŏ period) both the Japanese Nihon Shoki and the Chinese Jiu Tangshu nonetheless attest to T’amna representatives’ visit to their respective courts. One legend in the south side of the island even claims that one of Gautama Buddha’s disciples, the Arhat Bhadra 발타라 나한, came to T’amna with a host of followers some 2,500 years ago! If one were to visit Bŏphwasa, one would also find a statue representing the Silla 신라 mariner Chang Pogo 장보고 (787-846) as some also posit that he may have also brought the religion over to T’amna during his maritime exploits. In any case, there are no extant records or artifacts to prove a significant Buddhist presence on the island before the Koryŏ Dynasty period. As the Koryŏ Dynasty declined, since Cheju lacked significant natural resources, monastic Buddhism’s fortunes on the island depended on the Koryŏ kingdom and so once Koryŏ court support diminished, so did Cheju’s major monasteries.

A brief description of the Koryŏ kingdom is necessary. While our understanding of Korean culture today is shaped largely by our perceptions of Chosŏn Dynasty (1392-1910) Korea, Koryŏ Dynasty Korea was significantly different. Koryŏ was an aristocratic dynasty, but it also was far less centralized than the succeeding Chosŏn. Koryŏ tolerated a greater degree of autonomy among local officials known as “hyangni” 향리 and appeared to have regarded other peoples in its sphere of influence as vassals or dependencies. Historian John Duncan (2000) suggested that because Koryŏ was established via an allied coalition in which its founder Wang Kŏn was at best a first among equals, Koryŏ had to carefully balance power among the various local chieftains and warlords within the Korean peninsula. Koryŏ also tended to favor Buddhism to the point that it sponsored exchanges and cultural activities to promote Buddhist propagation such as its elaborate P’algwanhoe 팔관회 state rituals, to which foreign dignitaries including T’amna representatives were invited.

Buddhism was officially suppressed in Cheju during the mid-Chosŏn Dynasty from 1701 until the end of the 19th century. Mansusa temple was one of the many shrines and temples deliberately destroyed by Governor Yi Hyŏngsang 이형상 as he described to his satisfaction in his account Namhwan Pangmul 남환박물. Aspects of Buddhism merged with local Cheju shamanic practices such as the worship of Mirŭk, the Maitreya Buddha, for protection and fertility.

4. The Story of Kim Mandŏk (Kim Mandŏk’s tavern 김만덕 객주터)

Kim Mandŏk’s was reconstructed earlier this year and is still in the process of being finished though the project had been proposed for some years. As part of the so-called “T’amna Culture Plaza” 탐라문화관장 project, the reconstructed tavern of Kim Mandŏk is probably the only thing vaguely “cultural” in the redevelopment scheme. On the other hand, while Kim Mandŏk is no doubt a figure worthy of remembrance and top honors, there are many problems with the current reconstruction and the hideously pretentious “Kim Mandŏk Memorial Hall” 만덕기념관 built at the side of Sanjich’ŏn 산지천. The architecture used for the reconstructed tavern is reminiscent of an exaggerated folk village style – and hence is not true to a Cheju-style ch’ogajip 초가집 – and the actual location of Kim Mandŏk’s tavern is a matter of debate as she may have based herself at the historically larger port of Hwabuk 화북. The “Tamna Culture Plaza” utterly fails to do appropriate honors to the memory of Kim Mandŏk and so it is important for people not only to have a critical perspective of things now done in her name but also to know the value of her story.

Kim Mandŏk (1739-1812) actually lived some centuries after the scope of this excursion, but her story is worth contemplating, especially as she remains a relevant figure. In official state record, merchant-philanthropist Kim Mandŏk appears only in a single statement during the history of King Chŏngjo. Yet even this one statement demonstrates how remarkable a character she was to have merited the reward she was given. For Kim Mandŏk’s virtuous work in spending her fortune to save Cheju people from famine, the Chosŏn court granted her an official title as well as her wish of bypassing official travel restrictions to visit the Diamond Mountains 금강산.

In a semi-caste and rigidly stratified society where women were seldom expected (and often discouraged) to act outside their proscribed social roles, Kim Mandŏk was in every way an exceptional figure in the Chosŏn Dynasty. Kim Mandŏk was born in 1739 and is a descendant of the Kimhae Kim clan. Her parents died when she and her siblings were young. Her brothers became livestock herders while Mandŏk became a kisaeng 기생. As a kisaeng, Kim Mandŏk was known for her exceptional artistic talent. She sought to regain her yangban 양반 status, but was initially rebuffed by the governor. She ultimately did persuade the governor by insisting that she would use her status to help people. Kim Mandŏk was approached by many suitors, but she refused all offers. She instead set up her own business based in her tavern, performing a variety of functions from dealing in goods brought in via mainland mercantile activity, warehousing products, providing finance services, as well as lodging merchants. Although she acquired significant wealth, she lived a very simple life and avoided luxury. Cheju was hit with terribly lean years from 1790 to 1794 and during 1794, the worst of those years, Kim Mandŏk expended her life’s fortune to purchase rice to save Cheju from starvation. Out of recognition for her philanthropy, King Chŏngjo granted her the title of Ŭnyŏbansu (醫女班首), the Head Lady Doctor, in 1796 and she was granted special permission to tour the Chosŏn capital of Hanyang (Seoul) as well as the fabled Diamond Mountains 금강산.

Kim Mandŏk’s story also reflects certain aspects about women in Cheju society. Historically Cheju women were expected to have a greater degree of economic independence, even though this did not necessarily translate to social clout. Due the particular geographic conditions on Cheju, all community members were expected to contribute to the shared survival of not only the family but also the village as a whole. Even during the eighteenth century, because of the high mortality rate of men and the greater economic value of women, it was commonly known in Cheju that to have a daughter was a treasured thing while having a son was simply to have “food for the whales.” Cheju having such a harsh environment curiously also meant that community security depended as much upon women as it did upon the labors of its men. As one can notice in women diver households, because of the volatile nature of Cheju’s geography towards agriculture, a family can manage to survive and eke out a living with a woman diver’s catch. Kim Mandŏk as an economically independent woman was exceptional for a masculine-centered Chosŏn Korea, but she also was very much a Cheju woman.

Going South: Cheju Islanders in Vietnam

When Cheju went to the World…in the 18th Century, Part II

Whether people anywhere in the world ever concieved of themselves in concepts analogous to the “nation state” prior to the nineteenth century remains ambiguous but it is clear that different cultures had a particular awareness of an Other. The Other, however, was not always viewed in necessarily negative terms and the exoticism afforded to cultural Others sometimes served to inspire a sense of novelty. While many, including scholars, consider (with varied degrees) much of East Asia as being a part of a larger sinosphere, early travel accounts such as Song Dynasty Chinese emissary Xu Jing’s account of Koryŏ Koreans demonstrate that these cultures were very much aware of and were sometimes ambivalent about their differences. Accounts of the accidental adventurer, the castaway, even if there may have been later embellishments after the fact of the journey, also provide interesting insights on how people viewed themselves in the reflection of the Other. Cheju islander castaways were no exception.

Going South: Cheju Islanders in Vietnam

The account of Choch’ŏn (Jocheon) resident Ko Sang’yŏng and his shipmates becoming castaways on the shores of Vietnam is one of the more extreme examples of the hundreds (if not thousands as extant records in Tokugawa Japan alone counted 404 Korean castaways) of accidental adventurers during the Chosŏn Dynasty. Chŏng Min, who edited the 2008 re-compilation of Chŏng Un’gyŏng’s important yet long-forgotten text, notes that several different versions of Ko’s account exist in other texts, but the T’amna mun’gyŏllok contains one of the more complete story. Though South Korea’s involvement in the Vietnam War, the current global economic situation, and social issues such as foreign brides in particular have made Vietnam a striking presence in Korea in the past six decades, contact between the two lands go back farther than one would think.

The linkages between Vietnam and the Korean Peninsula and its environs in premodern history are not immediately apparent, but curious events between the two have appeared on the pages of scholar-officials’ grand narratives. One of the earliest known recorded incidents of contact between the Korean Peninsula and Vietnam is the beginning of what became the Hwasan Yi and Chŏngson Yi clans. Following the collapse of the Vietnamese Ly Dynasty (1009-1225), royal family member Yi Yongsang 李龍祥 (Vt: Lý Long Tường) and relatives escaped Vietnam and found themselves castaways on the shores of Hwanghae Province (a western region currently within the territory of North Korea). Yi Yongsang passed the Koryŏ exam, was granted official title in the Koryŏ court, and became the ancestor of the Hwasan Yi clan. Yi Yongsang’s arrival at Ongjin is even commemorated in local folklore.

As far as Jeju is concerned in the chance encounters with Southeast Asia, two accounts stand out – that of Ko Sang’yŏng in the T’amna mun’gyŏllok and Kim T’aehwang in the Sukjong sillok in the 15th year of King Sukjong (1689). Both castaways were aboard the same boat that was blown off course to the shores of Vietnam. In the Sukjong sillok, Kim T’aehwang (who is identified in Ko’s account in the T’amna mun’gyŏllok as the chief communicator) is said to have raised tribute horses for the Chosŏn court and boarded a ship for the mainland on behalf of then-governor Yi Sangjŏn. The Sukjong sillok gives a summary of the crew running into stormy weather and being blown off course for 31 days until they reached the Vietnamese city of Hoi An where they were granted provisions by the Vietnamese king as well as permission for passage aboard a trade vessel bound for Zhejiang, China.

The T’amna mun’gyŏllok, being a work of a literatus’s personal interest rather than a royal court-sanctioned historical narrative, provides many more details. When Ko’s and Kim’s boat was blown off course to islands off the coast of Vietnam, they initially thought that they had reached the shores of the Ryukyu Kingdom. It was when they attempted to communicate with local people using body language and classical Chinese script that they realized just how far they had drifted from Cheju. The castaways were met with initial suspicion by Vietnamese officials as an incident in which Chosŏn officials executed a Vietnamese royal castaway lingered in their memory, but after being taken to Hoi An they were treated with benign neglect rather than outright hostility. Eventually taking to begging for provisions, the castaways began to learn about the local language and customs and it is in this section of Ko’s account noted the relative prosperity of Vietnam as well as the variety of local tropical fauna and flora. Of particular interest to them were water buffalo native to Southeast Asia and used as draft animals for agriculture. Despite the language barrier and the fact that they were castaways, they were treated with much food and goods, reflecting the stability of the kingdom at that time. Even despite the aforementioned incident, they were called to have an audience with the king, who granted passage back to Chosŏn via a trade ship. Ko’s description of Vietnamese society notes that women outnumbered men and that they appeared to hold higher actual status, an interesting observation (for us in the present) given that a similar thing could be said about Cheju in that time.

——

Sources:

Chosŏn Wangjo Sillok

Chŏng Un’gyŏng. 2008. T’amna mun’gyŏllok pada pak-ŭi nŏlbŭn sesang. Chŏng Min, editor. Sŏul-si: Hyumŏnisŭt’ŭ.

Kang Ŭnhae. 2011. “Han’guk kwihwa Pet’ŭnam wangja-ŭi yŏksa-wa chŏnsŏl: Koryŏ Ongjin-hyŏn-ŭi Yi Yongsang wangja,” Tongbuk’a Munhwa Yŏn’gu, 26: 223-240.

When Cheju went to the World…in the 18th Century

Cheju’s Accidental Adventurers and Castaway Narratives of the T’amna Mun’gyŏllok 탐라문견록

Introduction

“Cheju goes to the world, the world comes to Cheju.”

Many visitors and residents alike in Cheju likely have heard this or seen this slogan posted around the island, especially on tourist information boards and massive development projects (which both ironically efface if not outright destroy the very unique aspects upon which developers atempt to capitalize). The slogan is not only an uncreative derivative of an earlier “Korea goes to the world” catch phrase used by politicians to advertise national progress in spite of actual underlying contradictions, but also is a reflection of Cheju’s awkward reorientation to internationalism. Adding a futher paradox is that this reorientation appears in the very intellectual discussions that critique it.

In recent years, more and more scholars have become interested in Cheju’s maritime past. That such an interest comes amidst Cheju’s shift to a globalizing orientation (as well as the uncertainties that accompany such a change) is not coincidental. Around the same time that Cheju hosted the 2012 World Conservation Congress, the T’amna Culture Festival included special lectures on cultural exchange and contact in the Pacific Rim, a notable shift in discourse from emphasizing Cheju as a unique yet Korean locale to a Pacific island culture in its own right. Discussions about Cheju’s earlier “globalization” in the context of the East China Sea as Northeast Asia’s Mediterranean serve to promote Cheju’s turn to international tourism on the one hand but also critique the superficiality of its current commoditized manifestation. In any case, Cheju reinterpreted as a maritime entity marks a departure from earlier scholarship that emphasized (or perhaps overemphasized) the island as a remote and isolated place constantly at the mercy of more powerful and threatening forces from beyond. This is, however, not to say that current geopolitical and economic trends are necessarily creating fabrications in Cheju’s grand narratives. Rather, the conditions and situations of today’s Cheju have prompted reassessments and rediscoveries of things long overlooked due to previous exigencies.

The global present has, if anything, made us become more aware of a global past. Refocused attention on past globalizations have been an important trend in Northeast Asian studies and such works have brought valuable insights that challenge many prior assumptions that the cosmopolitanism that characterized the 7th to 14th centuries had long given way to an inward-facing conservatism in this region. While historians such as Pak Chonggi (2008) have refocused attention on the conspicuously cosmopolitan nature of the Koryŏ Dynasty (918-1392) and evidence that the Chosŏn Dynasty (1392-1910) was hardly a total “Hermit Kingdom” that most have assumed (and still do so today). Maritime Northeast Asia, even as Tokugawa Japan (1603-1868), Qing Dynasty China (1644-1912), and Chosŏn Korea took more inward turns, was still active with international exchange. Regardless of tightening travel restrictions that culminated in pronounced reactionary turns by the 19th century, people still found themselves on stranger shores.

Great port cities of the Qing Empire such as Fuzhou and Quanzhou in China likewise were bustling centers of cosmopolitan activity as the Emperors Kangxi and Qianlong were generally open to outside influences. In Tokugawa Japan, despite Tokugawa Iemitsu’s 1639 isolationist Sakoku edict, trade still continued with Chosŏn Korea (not surprisingly in part to satiate aesthetic tastes among well-to-do samurai and merchants for the austere elegance of Korean pottery and painting), Qing China, Dutch merchants (though confined largely at the island of Dejima by Nagasaki), and even Southeast Asians and others due to a curious policy loophole that enabled Japanese of Satsuma domain to work with Ryukyu kingdom intermediaries. Trade among Northeast Asian states also extended to the Southeast Asian powers of Ayutthaya (in present-day Thailand) and Mataram (in present-day Java, Indonesia). 17th and 18th century Chinese and Japanese encyclopedias include notable – albeit terse and simplistic – descriptions of a great variety of ethnic groups from Hokkaido Ainu to peoples of Somalia, an indication that Northeast Asians were hardly in complete ignorance of the outside world. Maritime contact in Chosŏn Korea appears to have been relatively minor compared to its neighbors, perhaps a far cry from the Koryŏ days, but the Chosŏn Dynasty was nevertheless eager to maintain active relations with both Beijing and Edo; throughout the Chosŏn Dynasty, periodic embassies were dispatched to Japan with such pomp and circumstance that they became matsuri (festivals) unto themselves as Japanese locals watched parades of Korean officials and military escorts in exotic costume.

And what of Cheju Island under Chosŏn rule? Did Cheju go to the world?

Cheju Island, being a large island located not too far from the southwest-to-northeast Kuroshio Current, could easily figure itself into oceanic travel. Both literary scholars Hŏ Namch’un (2011) and Cho Tong’il (1997) observed a recurring theme of mythical figures coming to Cheju from abroad or finding themselves in distant lands in the stories of the Kwenaegit-tang 괴내깃당 ponp’uri, Songdang 송당 ponhyangdang ponp’uri, and Samsŏng sinhwa 삼성신화, which not only appear to attest to memories of ancient travels but remained important Cheju oral histories to the present. As an island, Cheju’s dependency on the sea would seem all too obvious, but what does complicate the matter is that following the Chosŏn Dynasty’s tightened grip on the island since the 15th century travel to and from Cheju was greatly limited. Though classical records indicate a few rare instances in which the T’amna kingdom dispatched emissaries to the Tang imperial Chinese and Asuka Japanese courts in the 7th centuries aside from the mainland Korean states, Cheju lost much of its autonomy by the 12th century and likely was not a major player in maritime trade given its lack of resources (although the island did export abalone, pearls, horses, and tangerines). Cheju’s status degraded further with Chosŏn rule and thus the age of Cheju islanders’ – confined with legal restrictions on maritime activity and miniscule t’e-u rafts or short-haul tribute vessels traveling to the Korean mainland – adventures beyond the seas had long ended. Or so it seemed.

Like the mythical Cheju hero Songgoksŏng 송곡성 of the Kwenaegit-tang ponp’uri, many Cheju Islanders found themselves accidentally on the shores of foreign lands. While none were forcibly locked in a chest and cast into the sea as in the ponp’uri, five to six centuries after T’amna’s annexation as a Korean territory, Cheju Islanders still inadvertently and literally reenacted the stories of these accidental adventurers. Part of the reason for the persistence of the seas of Northeast Asia as a mysterious and dangerous Bermuda Triangle-like entity in Cheju lore is because of the harsh conditions of waters around Cheju – prone to fierce storms and fickle winds – and it is this same feature that sent many adrift as far as Vietnam. While Hendrik Hamel and the Dutch crew of the Sparrowhawk found themselves on Cheju’s shores, Cheju Islanders found themselves on the shores of Japan, China, Taiwan, the Ryukyu Islands, and Vietnam. In some instances, Cheju Islanders even observed Dutch merchants in Japan, noting their curly hair and large noses. And of further interest is that Cheju Islander castaways also came upon descendants of Korean prisoners of war from the Imjin War (1592-1598) residing in Korean communities in southern Japan. These castaways came from a variety of backgrounds – some were official merchants, some were officials, some were government-owned slaves, some were commoners. Though the details of these castaways’ lives are lost to history, their accounts nonetheless contain pieces that reveal aspects of Northeast Asian societies not often described in more official records.

Hundreds of castaways have been documented in Qing, Tokugawa, and Chosŏn records, but a piece of literature of particular interest here is the 18th century book of Chŏng Un’gyŏng T’amna mun’gyŏllok. Records such as the P’yohaerok also give valuable information on castaway narratives, but a striking feature of Chŏng’s work, written while he accompanied his father during his magistracy appointment in Cheju, is the almost ethnographic nature of his writing and the remarkable level of detail that castaways provided of their misadventures beyond the seas. Though written in classical Chinese characters and written for a literate Korean audience, Chŏng’s retelling of these castaway’s stories include interesting observations on cultures of Chinese, Taiwanese aboriginals, Japanese, Ryukyuans, Vietnamese, and (to a lesser extent) the Dutch not only from Korean perspectives but Cheju Islanders’ impressions of the world beyond.

Sources:

Cho Tong’il. 1997. Tong’asia kubisŏsasi-ŭi yangsang-kwa pyŏnch’ŏn. Sŏul: Munhakkwajisŏngsa.

Chŏng Un’gyŏng. 2008. T’amna mun’gyŏllok pada pak-ŭi nŏlbŭn sesang. Chŏng Min, editor. Sŏul-si: Hyumŏnisŭt’ŭ.

Jungmann, Burglind. 2004. Korean painters as envoys: Korean inspiration in eighteenth-century Japanese Nanga. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Remnants of the Japanese Colonial Era; Part III

Remnants of the Japanese Colonial Era; Part III: Colonial Modernities and a Tale of Saishu’s Two Cities

“Cheju modernity”?

[*For those disinterested in theoretical rambling, skip to the next section.]

What is “modernity”? It sounds like an absurd question with a self-evident answer, but in thinking about it further, one can find that “modernity” is an extremely arbitrary concept. Put another way, when does “modernity” even begin? And put in the context of Cheju Island, how does one define “modern” Cheju Island without assuming a culturally biased position that implies that Cheju Island had been “pre-modern” even while it occupies the same temporal space as the “modern” world?

“Modernity” is a strange, overwrought, contested term that we can never avoid and always reuse and abuse. In recent decades, scholars have reconsidered Korea’s entry into the “modern” world as a form of “colonial modernity.” Unlike earlier propositions (notably the so-called “internal development theory”) that Korea was on its own path to modernity before Japanese colonialism’s interference and had developed its own form of modern society in spite of imperial rule, colonial modernity considers Korea’s case a modernity wrought on under the strong penetration of the Japanese Empire at all levels of society. According to scholars that refer to “colonial modernity” (notably Bruce Cumings and Michael Robinson), many of the features of today’s “modern” Korea are survivals and adaptations of colonial Japanese institutional and cultural structures ranging from the persistence of Japanese-style bureaucratic structures and educational systems to cultural perspectives of Korean “tradition” and its place in the larger grand narrative of world history. “Modernity” as a concept is thus a controversial term unto itself and always assumes a position, however way it is deployed. Put another way, we can realize the term’s manifold problems when we consider one society “modern” and another society as “pre-modern” even though they occupy the same spatio-temporal location – how one and the other is defined is always an act of relegating one society or another into the “waiting room of history,” to whom whoever “history” itself belongs. As the chicken-and-egg debates over what exactly makes “modernity” rages endlessly in other corners of academia, for the purposes of examining Cheju Island it may be more productive to allow the concept of “modern” to take a backseat and instead consider what features of “modern” societies were imported, adapted, and transformed as they entered. In this case, Cheju Island’s case challenges us to rethink these false binaries of “modern” versus “pre-modern” as we see the remarkable speed in which islanders adapted to change. Cheju Island society, despite the dearth of sufficient research, was by no means stagnant and possessed its own capabilities for adjustment.

Perhaps a better aspect to focus in our examination of Cheju Island as a modern society is when the island became “urban.” This is again a very broad concept, but we can speak of an “urban” Cheju even in the early 20th century if we consider three things with regards to the “urban”: 1) as pertaining to the development of sophisticated infrastructure with the purpose of integrating a local into a capitalist system in order to transform a locality into a space for economic accumulation and diffusion; 2) the crystallization of a distinct administrative and economic “center” within a locality; and 3) consistent maintenance of strong cultural and political links to a metropolitan center or centers (which in this case would be both Japanese-ruled Seoul and Japan itself in early 20th century Cheju) through which metropolitan culture traverses into the local. This is not to say that Cheju had no centers prior to Japanese rule, but rather that the focus of power and economics became much more clearly emphasized within specific geographic areas and that these foci were inextricably interlinked with larger regional if not global capitalist flows.

Urbanizing Cheju: Cheju City and Mosŭlp’o as urban centers in Colonial Korea (early 1900s to 1945)

We can begin the story of “urban” development (in terms of infrastructure and integration to the global economy) in Cheju Island with the Japanese colonial administration’s projects in the early twentieth century. Cheju Island was by no means completely isolated until the moment of modernity (which scholars tend to put at 1876 with Japan forcing Korea to open its doors via gunboat diplomacy), but the beginnings of what we now take for granted as the modern conveniences and infrastructure of “Cheju City” and “Sŏgwip’o City” find their origins in colonial projects. Throughout most of the Chosŏn Dynasty (1392-1910), Cheju Island was divided into the three administrative districts of Chejumok, Chŏngŭi County, and Taejŏng County; these three districts had as their centers in present-day Cheju City, Sŏngŭp, and Posŏng-ni respectively. For most of this time, Sŏgwip’o, surrounding the coastal fortress of Sŏgwijin was hardly the city it is today as the real economic and population concentration in the south weighed heavily toward Taejŏng. Chejumok had always served as the main political and economic center of the island, but from the 18th century onward the township of Taejŏng (and in particular, today’s town of Mosŭlp’o) prospered due to its more ideal agricultural conditions, even going as far as surpassing Chejumok in wealth and population. The importance of these two towns played very important roles during the colonial period (1910-1945). Taejŏng maintained its importance well into the 1980s before Cheju City emerged as one of South Korea’s fastest-growing provincial cities.

As Yi Kiuk (1999/2004) observed in his excellent study of village economies in the island, already in the colonial period, Cheju’s economic structures were tied to modes of production and exchange prevalent in global capitalism with developments in road, sea transport, and water resource facilities. Though a modern port facility was constructed as early as the late 19th century under the reign of Emperor Kojong, it was not until Japanese colonial rule that Cheju (or “Saishu” in Japanese) had a port for genuinely large-scale oceanic transportation. Although Cheju’s maritime character is noted nowadays, Cheju does not actually have the advantage of large natural harbors and in fact every typhoon to hit Cheju demonstrates how vulnerable the island truly is. The entire waterfront at the mouth of the present Sanjicheon was redeveloped (using the very stones that comprised Cheju City’s ancient city walls) to create Cheju’s first (and not to mention completely artificial) major harbor to service massive steamships that could travel not only to the peninsular mainland but also to the Japanese city of Osaka. Sweet potatoes and today’s kamgyul (the original kamgyul native to Cheju are no longer widely cultivated) were also introduced to the island’s farmers. To facilitate the speed of transportation across the island, in which journeys across the island literally took days, the Japanese colonial administration ordered the construction of what would become today’s “Iljudoro” road, the road that circumnavigates the entire island. And, as had been the case in the Korean mainland, while the Japanese Empire was not actually as invested in enforcing compulsory education in Japanese norms as Korean nationalist historiography suggests, it was also during this period that the first regular schools were established.

In terms of scale, infrastructural developments (with the notable exceptions of the three major military airfields of Chŏngt’ŭrŭ, Chindŭrŭ, and Alttŭrŭ constructed at the end of the Pacific War) were hardly impressive. The Iljudoro road was constructed to allow automotive vehicle traffic, but was barely wide enough to fit a single car. It was clear that like the Chosŏn Dynasty rulers, the Japanese colonial administration was merely interested in developing Cheju to the extent that the island was subordinate yet sufficiently useful. As had been the case in most of the Korean mainland, development in Cheju never matched those of locales more important and readily exploitable for the Japanese Empire such as P’ohang and Pusan (industrial port cities facing the Japanese mainland), Kunsan (a major port from which Korean rice was shipped to Japan), or Taejŏn (a town conveniently located along a major rail line). On the other hand, these changes on Cheju’s physical landscape, the methods of administration, and the goals of centralized urban planning had an irreversible effect upon the island and maintained a remarkable continuity even into our times.

Cheju City

While much of the late 19th century native characteristics of Cheju City persisted (and still persists in pockets), the Japanese colonial administration expended some effort to transform it into another city within the Japanese Empire. For all intents and purposes, Cheju City served as the locus of the island’s administration and as somewhat of a representative for the central authority of the Japanese Government General in Seoul, the colonial authorities converted or built over symbolic sites to demonstrate their presence. Physical effacement of built space for the purpose of official forced forgetting is by no means unique to the Japanese Empire (and indeed the Chosŏn Dynasty was also invested in such a practice to cement its rule following the overthrow of the preceding Koryŏ Dynasty), but many of the visible features and urban planning arrangements of today’s Cheju City maintains a dialectical link with practices during the colonial period.

As had been the case in Seoul (referred to as “Keijo” under Japanese rule), Japanese settlers inhabited Cheju’s old downtown, which is based around Kwandŏkjŏng and Ch’ilsŏngt’ong. Ch’ilsŏngt’ong and the area around today’s Chung’ang-no area has continuously been inhabited since the T’amna period (and in fact the area known as Mugŭnsŏng since the 18th century was perhaps the original location of the ancient seat of the T’amna kings) and the importance of this neighborhood continued with the Japanese establishing their colonial center here. The current Ch’ilsŏng-no Arcade shopping street itself is a product of the 1980s but it was during Japanese rule that the three main parallel roads (Tapdong-no, Ch’ilsŏng-no, Chung’ang-no) were reconfigured as straight thoroughfares to mimic the norms in modernized Japanese cities; until the colonial period, Cheju City’s town streets not only wound in the same manner as ‘kolmokgil’ (country village roads) with the particular Cheju character of narrow ‘olle’ paths but also followed a distinctive pattern reflecting the Ursa Major constellation and hence Cheju’s native cosmology. Cheju City retained its small-town characteristics, but its streets were reorganized to follow those of its Japanese rulers in part due to the practicalities for effective colonial control and in part as a means of symbolic conquest.

The Ch’ilsŏngt’ong area comprised of a number of shops – many of which were Japanese-owned businesses – and Japanese settlers also owned houses here and in the adjoining Mugŭnsŏng neighborhood. Unbeknownst to many including Cheju residents, Japanese influences in residential architecture remains conspicuous in the unusual design (in particular square-shaped beams, sliding panels reminiscent of Japanese shoji, or central corridors) of some old tile-roofed houses that remain (for now) in the Ch’ilsŏngt’ong area. Hyangsadang, a shrine dedicated to founding ancestors a short distance across from Kwandŏkjŏng, was converted to a branch of a Japanese temple, Higashi Hon’ganji. A Japanese-style inn (ryokan) was established not too far from Kwandŏkjŏng, serving as a convenient place for bureaucrats to spend the night when transportation back home would be too inconvenient. Also near Kwandŏkjŏng is the site of Cheju’s first movie and performance theater. The building that still exists today near Sŏngnae Church (another very old site with a century-long history as the first Protestant church in Cheju) is the site of the 1950s Hyŏndae Theater, but another theater existed during the colonial period; records of this theater, however, are no longer available to us.

Most of Cheju City’s schools were also concentrated in this tight area, in particular Puk (Buk) Elementary, Nam Elementary, and Sinsŏng Girls’ High School. That a modern education system was centered in this one neighborhood was not at all an accident – the area around today’s Chung’ang-no was the prime center of education in Cheju from as far back as the Chosŏn Dynasty. Of the schools within Cheju City, Puk Elementary, founded in 1907, is a source of pride for many longtime residents as it was the first elementary school to have been established by Cheju Islanders and is the only school in the city that remains in precisely the same spot as it did over a century ago. Nam Elementary school was established under the Japanese colonial administration and was moved in the second half of the twentieth century. Sinsŏng Girls’ High School, originally located near Chung’ang Cathedral, was founded under the auspices of Catholic missionaries and like Nam Elementary it was eventually moved to a different location.

Taejŏng

Taejŏng’s center was historically in what is now Posŏng-ni where the 18th century exile Ch’usa Kim Chŏnghŭi resided and the remains of Taejŏng’s town walls still stand. Whereas soil conditions in other parts of Cheju were not particularly ideal for larger scale agriculture, Taejŏng possessed some of the island’s most arable land and this better quality soil is evidenced in the superior onggi earthenware ceramics unique to this region. The greater degree of wealth – as well as the fact that many mainland elites who were exiled to Cheju tended to reside here – also gave Taejŏng the distinction of having more educated residents. In the colonial period, however, Taejŏng’s center of activity shifted south to the seaside town of Mosŭlp’o. Local historian Kim Ungch’ŏl insists that in order to understand the story of Cheju in the early twentieth century, one has to look at Mosŭlp’o.

The town of Mosŭlp’o holds an unusual position in Cheju’s early 20th century history, a position that would surprise most visitors given the town’s current modest state. Whereas remnants of the colonial era are still evident in Cheju City, almost none exist in today’s Mosŭlp’o in part because the town consistently developed over several decades until its fortunes declined toward the end of the twentieth century. Until the 1960s when Cheju City’s development began in earnest due to the Park Chung Hee regime’s National General Development Plan (Kukt’o Chonghap Kaebal Kyehoek – initiated in 1964, but put into full implementation in 1985), the town of Mosŭlp’o was perhaps the closest thing Cheju Island had to a “city,” boasting a more active cultural scene and a better developed infrastructure with a more defined townscape.

All along the road from the current bus terminal in Mosŭlp’o going down to the harbor was the old town center. Some time in the 1920s, Japanese “New Theater” (Shingeki) drama was introduced to Cheju for the first time and the first performance of this import was in Mosŭlp’o’s first theater. The original theater during the colonial period was near today’s Mosŭlp’o harbor, facing the pier and along the current “Olle Course 10.” The area around the theater was once bustled with commercial activity as there were also inns for travelers. Mosŭlp’o’s importance was due to its proximity to the productive agriculture of the greater Taejŏng area, its fishery resources, and its harbor.

Toward the end of the Japanese colonial period, Mosŭlp’o and Taejŏng gained the dubious honor of hosting major imperial military fortifications that stretched from Song’aksan to the large air base and army bunkers at Alttŭrŭ (Alddeureu). With the defeat of the Japanese Empire imminent, military authorities planned for a final desperate attempt to reassert themselves as they established massive facilities of war on the backs of forced labor. The scars of Cheju’s traumas are much more visible in this part of Cheju Island as the now-abandoned aircraft hangars, watch towers, and gun turrets among the otherwise tranquil barley fields are a haunting reminder of this region’s complicated past.

Sources:

Interviews with Cheju City residents conducted during the period from July 20, 2014 to August 27, 2014

Remnants of the Japanese Colonial Era; Part II

Remnants of the Japanese Colonial Era; Part II: Buddhist Resistance and Accommodation

Perhaps one of the earliest most overt act of outright rebellion against the Japanese in Cheju Island was the Mu-o Pŏpjŏngsa 무오법정사 event on October 7, 1918, an armed insurrection led by Buddhist monks Kim Yŏnil 김연일, Pang Tonghwa 방동화, and Kang Ch’anggyu 강창규 five months before the famed 1919 March First Demonstrations (Samil Undong 삼일운동). For a few days, a rebel movement that began with a group of few dozen Buddhist monks plotting to drive out Japan’s colonial domination of the island through force of arms at the mountainside temple of Pŏpjŏngsa ballooned to a 400-strong rebel force as the group descended upon Chungmun 중문. Though the event is known as “Mu-o Pŏpjŏngsa,” the first actual outbreak of violence was at the colonial police station in Chungmun where rebels assaulted colonial gendarmes and freed prisoners. Whether it was truly a “nationalistic” rebellion or instead an explosion of anger directed at colonial policies (and not any notion of a ‘nation-state’ per se) that threatened local livelihoods, it is nonetheless telling that the rebels marched across the Cheju countryside unchallenged in the beginning and that the Japanese officials were unaware of the rebellion until the first outbreak of violence. Cheju residents, highly resentful of colonial authorities’ interference with local lives, chose not to inform officials or even joined the ranks of the rebel force.

Armed with mostly bamboo spears and a handful of antiquated matchlock rifles, the rebellion was crushed in only a matter of days. Many rebels were arrested and a few died in prison. Leaders Kim Yŏnil, Pang Tonghwa, and Kang Ch’anggyu were imprisoned for a time and released, but were under close colonial surveillance for the next two and a half decades of Japanese rule. After the brutal suppression of the uprising and the eventual March First uprising a half year later, as had been the case with most Cheju Islanders in the course of the colonial period, how Cheju Buddhists responded to increased Japanese colonial interference is unclear. A small number continued to support resistance activities. Most gave up on openly resisting and decided to adjust to their reality under Japanese rule and it is known that Cheju Islanders were among the most active in traveling to the burgeoning city of Osaka, Japan for work.

People may have engaged in their own forms of passive resistance by maintaining their own Cheju traditions or simply ignoring colonial programs aimed at integration into the rising Japanese Empire. The role of nun visionary An Pongnyŏgwan, who is regarded somewhat as a local saint and credited as a key figure in the success of Cheju’s Buddhist revival, is unclear as the information we possess today is largely through word of mouth. These rumors regarding her activities reflect the ambivalent nature of Cheju Buddhists’ relationship with their colonial rulers. Japanese colonial authorities, anxious to bring common Koreans under their control, supported Japanese Buddhists’ missionary activities; Hyangsadang shrine, once a Confucian shrine for the island’s ancestral forbears, was converted to a branch temple of Higashi Honganji temple during the colonial period. An Pongnyŏgwan did not appear to support the 1918 rebellion and was perhaps more concerned with pursuing her spiritual mission (somewhat in disagreement with the more millenarian Pang Tonghwa and Kang Ch’anggyu) and the very real threat of Japanese retaliation, but anecdotal evidence suggests that she secretly raised funds to support the rebels and even continued to do so for the March First Movement. On the other hand, the fact that she openly avoided politics and attempted to maintain an autonomous Cheju Buddhist sphere from the rising influence of Japanese sects is rather telling about the cautious attitude many Cheju people maintained. Unlike the Korean mainland, while the Japanese colonial policymakers’ requirement for many Buddhist clergy to marry (a longstanding tradition in Japanese Buddhism, but there were a few known cases of married clergy in Korea even before the colonial period) remained a controversy and embarrassment until the separation of the Chogye Order resolved the matter some decades later, it was not so much an issue in Cheju due to the islanders’ preference for family-based religious practice. The question of simple accommodation to present realities versus the matter of outright collaboration did not leave an open wound in Cheju’s Buddhist community as it did in the mainland. As had long been the case in Cheju’s history, the need to survive ultimately trumped any sort of idealistic ideological fervor.

The nature of Mu-o Pŏpjŏngsa has been a topic of debate for some time – some scholars such as Yi Yŏnggwŏn (2004) argued that the rebellion cannot be considered “Buddhist” because although the leaders identified themselves as devout Buddhists most of the followers were of a syncretic religion known as “Poch’ŏn’gyo,” but others such as Kim Kwangsik (2005) note that the lines between “Buddhism” and other religious movements in Cheju in the early 20th century are very blurred and that even the leading members of such movements had some affiliation with one Buddhist community or another. The second line of thought has some considerable support to it as the Pang Tonghwa and Kang Ch’anggyu, both Cheju locals and perhaps the actual leaders of the event (Japanese records instead credit mainlander Kim Yŏnil as the rebel leader), were known to follow a highly inclusive form of millenarian Buddhism that incorporated existing beliefs in Cheju. Both leaders sought to realize utopian visions of a this-world Buddha land in Cheju through the elimination of colonial exploitation. Some decades later, a number of Buddhist clergy did take up arms against the militant ultra-right wing Northwest Youth League’s slaughter of Cheju islanders during the fallout of the April Third Incident from 1948 to 1950, an echo of the community’s strong localist identity that first sounded in the 1918 rebellion. Regardless of where one stands on the debates and regardless of the short-lived nature, Mu-o Pŏpjŏngsa remains a strong source of pride for many local clergy and Buddhists as proof not only of Buddhists’ contributions to Cheju history but also the stalwart determination of their forebears.

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Site of Pŏpjŏngsa near Yŏngsil Trail. The temple was first built in the early 20th century, among the first major Buddhist temples established during Cheju’s Buddhist revival from the late 19th century to early 20th century. It was destroyed completely during the turmoil from the April Third Incident in the period from 1948 to 1950. The site today is a local heritage site and a memorial honoring the rebellion was recently constructed nearby.

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Remains of a Buddhist altar. According to the granddaughter of Pang Tonghwa, rebels used a clever combinations of Buddhist chanting to convey secret messages to one another during their meetings for plotting rebellion.

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Sources:

Hyejŏn. 2007. “Pongnyŏgwan Sŭnim-kwa Cheju Pulgyo-ŭi chunghŭng,” in Han’guk piguni-ŭi suhaeng-kwa sam, Vol.1, edited by Son Hyeyŏng, 343-366.
 
Kim, Kwangsik. 2005. “Pŏpjŏngsa hang’il undong chaeinsik,” Han’guk tongnip undongsa yŏn’gu, 25: 141-176.
 
O Sŏng, et al. 2006. Cheju ŭi sach al kwa Pulgyo munhwa. Sŏul T ŭkpyŏlsi: Sach al Munhwa Yŏn guwŏn.
 
Yi Hyangsun. August 2011. “Pongnyŏgwan yŏn’gu-ŭi hyŏnhwang-kwa kwaje.” Paper presented at Pongnyŏgwan sŏnyanghoe, Cheju City, Cheju, South Korea.
 
Yi Yŏnggwŏn. 2004. Cheju Yŏksa Kihaeng. Sŏul-si: Han’gyŏre Sinmunsa.

Remnants of the Japanese Colonial Era; Part I

Searching for the Remnants of the Japanese Colonial Period

Part I: Traces in Old Cheju City

Although Japanese rule over Korea officially began starting from the annexation of Korea in 1910 until the end of the Second World War in 1945, Japanese penetration and domination over Korean affairs had begun since the end of the 19th century, especially after the 1876 treaty, which opened up Korea to Japanese interests. Like their mainland counterparts, Cheju islanders found themselves increasingly threatened with Japanese economic and political power even before a more substantial Japanese presence appeared on the island. The Japanese colonial authorities on the one hand tolerated Japanese fishermen’s over-exploitation while on the other hand occasionally relented to Cheju Islanders’ discontent in setting up minimal legal provisions to curtail some illegal fishing. Stories of resistance (such as Mu-o Pŏpjŏngsa and the Haenyŏ Hangil Undong) are commemorated not only through literature and rhetoric but also through annual practices – both ritual and ritual-like – to call the past into the present as a means to mark the turbulent discontinuities of history with continuities of Cheju identity.

The history between the Japanese and Cheju Islanders is equally as complicated and contradictory as the history between the Japanese and Korean mainland. Cheju Islanders’ distaste for Japanese rule and resentment of economic penetration is noted, but given Cheju’s own complicated history with the Korean mainland, whether or not conspicuous acts of resistance were necessarily for the larger aims of Korean nationalism or expressions of local discontent over economic and political exploitation was perhaps not as clear as we imagine. While it is easy to gloss over the manifold aspects and contradictions created in the conditions of Japanese colonial rule, we would do both ourselves and the people who lived under colonial domination a terrible disservice by keeping ourselves to ready-made receptacles of contemporary nationalist formulations and overlooking the actual complexities that existed. What is easily categorized as “patriotism” for contemporary political purposes could have held different meanings during the context of the colonial period. The very real issues to Cheju islanders at the time were likely more related to the basic necessities of everyday living. That outrage and forms of overt or passive resistance was directed toward Japanese authorities and settlers was likely more due to the situation that Japanese commercial and industrial interests posed a direct threat to the livelihoods of Cheju locals than simply desires to express Korean patriotism.

There was much interaction between Cheju and Japan (particularly the Japanese city of Osaka) during the Japanese colonial period from the time the Cheju-Osaka line was established under Amagasaki Kisenbu company from 1920 to the dissolution of the Empire of Japan in 1945 following the Pacific War. From 1923 to 1945, the Kundae-hwan line sailed three times a month. The development of current Cheju Harbor as well as the Sanjich’ŏn waterfront were largely the result of the Japanese colonial government’s interests in expanding Cheju’s shipping infrastructure; Cheju Island itself naturally has no major natural harbors and thus nearly all of the harbors we see today were either due to the Japanese construction drive from the 1920s or the later modernization efforts of the Park Chung Hee regime in the 1960s. On the other hand, the Japanese colonial government, like the government of the former Empire of Korea (Taehan cheguk), was also not entirely interested in fully expanding Cheju Island’s infrastructure as development was only planned to reach a level that made Cheju useful yet completely subordinate to the Korean mainland and later the Japanese mainland in the colonial period. Thus Cheju remained relatively marginal until the Japanese imperial military decided to transform it into one of its last bastions of defense (through the constructions of the Chindŭrŭ Airfield [Jindeureu], Chŏngt’ŭrŭ [Jeongteureu], Alttŭrŭ Airfield [Alddeureu], and the military fortifications on Song’aksan) as the immanent defeat of the Japanese empire became clear. While the Japanese Chōsen Sōtokufu (Kr: Chosŏn Chŏngdŏkbu; Government-General of Korea) was nowhere near as active in pursuing the development of Cheju as it was in the emergent Korean mainland port cities of Kunsan, Wŏnsan, P’ohang, etc., movements between Cheju and Osaka were nonetheless active throughout the colonial period. Migrations were largely due to the economic opportunities that emerged from the post World War I boom in the burgeoning industrial port city of Osaka and the late 1930s wartime mobilization policies in which many Koreans were conscripted to assist in the Japanese military-industrial complex. But while external forces – world economics and Japanese colonial policy – largely drove the waves of migration from Cheju to Osaka, it ultimately was Cheju people themselves to define the nature of the Cheju-Osaka connection. And although there currently is still no direct passenger liner route between Cheju and Japan, during the height of colonial rule, the Cheju-Osaka route was one of the most active routes, a result most visible even today in present-day Tsuruhashi, Osaka where a “Little Cheju” still exists.

As noted in a recent edition of Jeju Weekly, Cheju Islanders have the curious position of being one of the largest components of the Zainichi Kankokujin (Kr: Chaeil Hangukin; Resident Korean) community in Osaka, Japan. This was due in large part to the waves of migrations that took place during the colonial period and in the wake of Sasam Sakŏn (the “April Third Incident”); the former in the form of largely economic migration (voluntary or otherwise) and the latter in the form of refugee migrations. What is also often not discussed today is that  Japan maintained a continuous – albeit indirect – role in Cheju’s transformation from the 1960s to as late as the early 1990s, prior to the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. A significant degree of investment in Cheju’s agricultural development from the 1960s to the 1980s came from Japanese sapplings (for the mandarin oranges that are now Cheju’s signature crop) and financial aid from Zainichi relatives. And even as far back as the beginning of the twentieth century, it was also the Japanese that introduced another crop that has consistently remained both an important food and cash crop on the island for nearly a century – sweet potatoes. Until fairly recently, Japanese tourists comprised a highly significant portion of international visitors to Cheju Island and while we now speak of the Chinese presence, we must keep in mind that it was the mass arrival of Japanese visitors from as early as the 1980s that contributed greatly to the shift in Cheju’s developmental trajectory. The relationship between Cheju and Japan has shifted constantly throughout the vicissitudes of history and thus it would not do if we were simply to keep it to a fixed point in our conceptual frameworks.

Sources:

Hyŏn Yongchun. Chejudo saramdŭl ŭi sam. Sŏul T’ŭkbyŏlsi: Minsogwŏn, 2009.

Ko, Seong-bong. “Kindai Nichikan kōro no naka no Ōsaka-Saishūtō kōro,” Hakusan jinruigaku 12 (March 2009), pp.7-33.

Southcott, Darren, “The Story of Little Jeju – Jaeil Jejuin,” Jeju Weekly, 10 September 2013 [Accessed 30 September 2013] http://www.jejuweekly.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=3510

Yi Kiuk. Cheju nongchʻon kyŏngje ŭi pyŏnhwa. Sŏul Tʻŭkpyŏlsi: Chinmundang, 2003.

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Photo Survey

Tangible remains of the Japanese colonial period still exist in Cheju today although they can be difficult to find for multiple reasons. Any survey of these remnants, however, must first start with the old center of Cheju City itself, a section of the city we tend to call “Ku Cheju” (“Old Cheju” as opposed to “Sincheju” “New Cheju”), but also known as the “Wŏndosim” (the “Original City Center”). The old city center around Ch’ilsŏngt’ong (the present-day Ch’ilsŏngno Arcade by Chungangno and Kwandŏkjŏng) has from as far back as the T’amna period served as the heart of the original “capital” of Cheju Island and had also served as such during the Japanese colonial period given its proximity to the Japanese-built Cheju Harbor and Sanjich’ŏn. Nearly all of the Japanese colonial era buildings no longer exist, but a few can still be found.

Lacking a sufficient port for large steamships, the Japanese developed Sanjich’ŏn and Cheju Harbor. Many of the stones for the land reclamation came from the Cheju Fortress walls, which was largely destroyed for the expansion of the town of Cheju-ŭp during the colonial period. Several commemorative plaques were recently placed around this area to mark particular facilities built mostly form around the 1920s.

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This picture from 1926 is perhaps one of the few real examples we have of the ritual performed at the former Ch’ilsŏngdae, which no longer exists. Although the historical purpose of Ch’ilsŏngdae is not exactly known, some consider it an altar to the Seven Stars (Ch’ilsŏng: Ursa Major or “the big dipper”) worship. Several recently-installed commemorative monuments can be found scattered around the old city center mark the location of the ancient spiritual and administrative complex, which itself apparently mimicked the form of the Ursa Major constellation.

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This house is located right by Ch’ilsŏngt’ong and is strangely left neglected and completely sandwiched between refurbished shops and compact housing and apartment structures. One distinctive features of Japanese-style structures in contrast with Cheju-style structures are the double-roofs (as seen with this house).

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This next one is located in a narrow street across from Kwandŏkjŏng. Unlike the previous house, this one is still inhabited. There apparently are only two of these types of houses remaining in the old city as I have yet to find other examples near Ch’ilsŏngt’ong.

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This is a Japanese-style “ryokan” that is still being used today. Like the other buildings from that period, however, it is very much in a state of disrepair. This building can be found behind the Cheju Mokgwana government complex, a neighborhood that once provided accommodations for government officials sent to Cheju from the mainland during the Chosŏn Dynasty.

ryokan

This was a company house, built in 1940, for an alcohol factory. One of the major industries on Cheju throughout the twentieth century was the production of alcohol; barley for beer brewing was grown on Cheju for the production of alcoholic beverages on the Korean mainland in both the Japanese colonial period and the Park Chung Hee era. In 1940, however, alcohol production on Cheju was utilized for aircraft fuel as the Pacific War intensified.

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