Sunday, May 01, 2005

Forest fires are a wake-up call: Defend Dokdo or King Munmu will be angry!

My university is funded, or founded, or otherwise connected to Myoungji. Seoul has a Myoungji elementary, middle and high school and a university. There is also Myoungji construction. Today, I found an artcle by someone from the Myoungji Education Foundation. So much for disclosure.

The article is titled "Lessons from the Forest Fires" and anyone who has seen my blog knows this is a subject of interest for me. The article discusses the Naksan fire and was in the Joongang Ilbo a day before Yangyang experienced it's second major fire of the year.

I was expecting suggestions on fire fighting, maybe some critism of the fire fighters or of smokers or farmer burning refuse.

Instead, it is a strange and mystical account of how the burning of Naksan is related to Korea's ownership of Dokdo.

King Munmu was the greatest ruler throughout
the thousand-year history of the Silla Dynasty,
and he asked that his ashes be thrown in the East
Sea to defend his country forever, even after his
death, and Venerable Euisang established Naksansa
temple to defend the East Sea with the help
of religious power.

A political leader and a religious leader of the Silla
Dynasty devoted their body and heart to the
defense of the East Sea, wishing a lasting peace
in their fatherland at a time when Korea's first
unification was achieved with greatness.

There are strong winds and high waves in the
East Sea near Dokdo islands, between South
Korea and Japan. Now Naksansa temple, the
watchman of the East Sea, has been burned
to the ground. Can we not see the historical
providence and lessons in these events?

Although I cannot read much Korean beyond street signs and books for very young children, I have read a fair bit in English about Naksansa. Buddhapia has a good description of Naksansa as says only that Euisang went to the East coast to find the Bodhisatva of Mercy.

I am fully aware that the legends that attach to historic events are larger-than-life and written according to the sensibilities of the contemporous times. Still, finding the Bodhisatva of Mercy seems more reasonable than using the Bodhisatva of Mercy to defend the country.

"Defending with Mercy" sounds sufficiently mysterious and abstract to to be a line in a Kung-fu movie. Maybe some people really talk this way, I sure don't.

Anyway, if you want to read about how forest fires are part of the design of nationalistic demi-gods, give it a read.

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