Travel & People

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[Book] A foreigner extols the beauty of Korean gardens

Onepark 2018. 7. 9. 20:00

Surprisingly, a foreign garden planner has written a book on the Korean gardens.

On July 9, the book launch of Korean Gardens - Tradition, Symbolism and Resilience published by Hollym (한림출판사) took place at the Korean Publishers Association Center near Gyeongbok Palace.


Australian Ambassador James Choi attended the ceremony and delivered a congratulatory address for the author, Jill Matthews.


* Australian Ambassador James Choi gave her a congratulatory remarks.
* Brother Anthony of Taize (An Son-jae), President Royal Asiatic Society, Korea
* SNU Prof. Sung Jong-sang said the author understands the genuine beauty of Korean gardens.

After some congratulatory remarks by other VIPs, to my surprise, the author mentioned my name first in her lecture on the subject.

"Prof. Whon-il Park assisted in many ways over many years, including organising field trips, reading every word of the manuscript, making gentle suggestions for improvements, and inserting Hangul and classical Chinese characters where necessary."


* Prof. Graham Greenleaf, Jill's husband and reliable partner for life

She asserted in her lecture as follows:

The Korean gardening tradition is a separate, distinctive and venerable tradition, which deserves to be more widely recognised and enjoyed outside Korea.

There is much more than meets the eye in Korean gardens. The Western eye needs to be educated to better enjoy all aspects of Korean gardens, not just the aesthetic or horticultural. There are literary, spiritual and symbolic elements in each Korean garden, which the trained eye can recognise. This book would help train these untrained eyes and enhance the enjoyment of their owners when visiting Korean gardens.

This book has been dedicated to celebrate the resilience of Koreans in the face of repeated adversity as expressed in their gardens. No matter how many times Korean gardens are destroyed either by accident or war, Koreans get right back up and replant, restore and rebuild them. This tradition of constant renewal of Korean gardens is wonderful example of cultural continuity and resilience sometimes in the face of attempted cultural genocide by Japanese invaders.


The author explained the 10 most important things Westerners should know about Korean gardens:

1.  Very old gardens

2.  Harmony with nature  

3.  Tradition of renewal  

4.  Iconography & symbolism  

5.  Chinese literary tradition  

6.  Importance of site selection based on Pungsu theory  

7.  Location scattered across the nation  

8.  Sustainability  

9.  Reverence for trees  

10.  Two main streams of Korean garden design - Buddhism and Confucianism.


After the lecture, I made a comment (pictured above) that the author is a part time lawyer specialized in the family law and privacy law, and that Prof. Greenleaf is a reliable partner in her pursuit of Korean gardens for the past three decades.

At the book launching ceremony, a number of his Korean colleagues, as shown below, in the field of data protection and privacy law gathered to celebrate the publishing of a long awaited book on the Korean culture written by the spouse of our honorable Professor Greenleaf.


Mr. Jeong Jae-ho (the fourth person from the right) reported the book launching for Kookmin Ilbo. According to the article, Jill Matthews said she likes best Seyeonjeong, Bogildo and Soswaewon at Damyang for many reasons.


* At the roof garden of the architect prize winning The Book Company Bldg, Gangnam-gu