A New World: Korea's Mountains and American Waters


  • Kim Jiha

Kim Jiha is a South Korean poet and playwright whose early poetry theme was in political resistance. After having written poems including Five Thieves criticizing President Park Chung-Hee's dictatorship he was sentenced to death in 1974 for orchestrating an anti-government movement, and then to life imprisonment. His sentence was suspended following Park's assassination. On January 4, 2013, 39 years after the death sentence, Kim was cleared of sedition charges by a Seoul court.

Since 1980s Kim's view of human condition has evolved to incorporate Korean traditional Dong-hak and other eastern and western philosophies into a theory of life, seeking balance and harmony in the nation and ultimately in the world. 

Kim metaphorically refers to mountains and waters to indicate the relations between Korea and the United States.

Kim was born in Mokpo, South Cholla Province, in 1941 and received a BA in Aesthetics from Seoul National University in 1966.

Kan Tae Hap Tŏk (艮兌合德), Korea’s Mountains and American Waters Must Be Brought Together. Kim Ji-ha According to Chŏngyŏk (正易, a philosophy of divination, cosmology and ethics propounded by Kim Hang, a religious thinker from the late Joseon period), Korea’s ‘mountains(艮)’ and American ‘Waters(兌)’ are destined to be brought together from the beginning of history. This is what is called ‘Kan Tae Hap Tŏk (艮兌合德)’ – out of the 64 divinations in the Book of Change, the Kan and Tae trigrams indicate a young man and woman; meaning, the couple is a match made in heaven. What is the ‘mountain’ here, and what is the ‘water’? Mountains are ‘the murmurs of rocks,’ and waters are ‘whispers of drops of water.’ Why do we use these metaphors? Why can’t we apply the old military, economic or religious comparisons here? Of course, such comparisons themselves remain unchanged. But then why do we go for a different metaphor? Is it because of Kim Jŏng Ŭn in North Korea? Or because the Park Kǔn Hye administration came into power in South Korea? Could it be because of a crisis in the New York stock market? Or the anomaly climate phenomena spreading over the American continent? No. None of the above. One reason for this is that, judgments based on taste, that of like and dislike, have become an absolute criterion and a driving force behind women consumers at countless supermarkets and malls in the States. Secondly, the old Native American tradition of calling high mountains ‘Taepaek,’ meaning grand mountains, and hometowns ‘sixteen black seas – Yelionssoria Aura-Be, in old Kamchatka language)’ is coming to light. And another reason is that the ‘neo-Renaissance’ of the Korean tradition, which is called ‘Aurachi ,’ meaning ‘great fusion,’ is surfacing again, within which ‘Sikim,’ the hidden aesthetics of the old songs and dances of America, Russia, China, Korea and Kamchatka, is revealing itself. Meanwhile, the boards of commerce at the two major ports in the Southern region of the Korean peninsula, Busan and Mokpo, are joining forces to host a marine economy symposium, with the aim of opening up Chang Po-ko’s road towards the pacific. Chang Po-ko is an entrepreneur from the ancient kingdom of Shilla– his activities out in the Pacific Ocean already harbor the ‘inklings of the Fusion Field Economic Theory’ based on his ‘view of history that encompasses the land and ocean, mountains and waters.’ And, the inaugural address of South Korea’s new president Park Kǔn Hye repeatedly emphasizes this very ‘great fusion of Korea’s traditional culture and the global economy,’ while President Obama continues to highlight the importance of approaching East Asia. For, Psy’s Horse Dance, which he performed at the inauguration ceremonies of the two Presidents, is the of the new era. Why is this? What is it? This is what I tell everyone. ‘What is our country, Korea?’ The first thing Paekpŏm Kim Ku, a prominent independence activist in modern Korean history, said when he returned to Korea after its liberation, was that ‘the greatest power our country has is the power of culture!’ What does the global community call for, right now? The power of culture. Does Korea have this, culture as a cosmic life force? Yes. But the only way to enliven and universalize this force as a modern and global power is through the U.S. Therefore, ‘Kan Tae Hap Tŏk’ is the hidden desire of the contemporary society. I recall Millington/Wedefield’s following prophecy: ‘There is a mountain shade this solitary lake called America awaits all day. When the shadow falls on the water, Ah! Do you remember? That the ‘Ssamudarini (an oceanic kingdom in the legends of Native American Mexicans)’ of the divine purple ocean begins the dance of heaven!’ May not Ssamudarini be the “new cosmos to arise from the future ocean of mankind” Einstein mentions in his last words? Remember! The strange song that haunts the Bering Strait across the ‘Mongolian Route’ for over nine thousand years! ‘Ikaiika De-emu Waisumi Konankatui’ (Bird oh Bird! Where are you going? That blue, new sky beneath the vast ocean you wet your feet in?) What is this? Can’t this be what Stephen Hawking talks about in his prophesy, that ‘one day, mankind will go out to the sea, and find a path to a completely new cosmos underneath the depth of the ocean.’ This dream-like story is also a hidden legend in the coastal waters of Busan Gadeok Island in Korea, a place also called the new ‘Rotterdam of the East.’ What is the meaning of the white cross – instead of a dead baby – that jutted out from the bosoms of ‘Yongok,’ who drowned in the crazy coastal waters of Gadeok Island, the protagonist of the late novelist Park Kyoung-ri? I now come to realize that it is the name of the final destination of ‘Avatamska Sutra(大方廣佛華嚴經),’ the Avatamska scripture of Vairocana, reached through the efforts of the Chahaeng Tongnyŏ’s Sachadang. Hae In, the Seal of the Sea! That’s it. I would like to tell you that, although I may never have the opportunity to visit the U.S. again during the remainder of my days, I firmly see the U.S. as an eternal ally and brother nation of my own country, Korea. Why am I making such strong statements? Because the threat of the Third World War looms over us, which is more than likely to break in East Asia, the Pacific. Why would that be? Because of North Korea’s nuclear threat. Let me go into some more details. But most importantly, it’s because South Korea’s motivational potential for the creation of new civilization. If North Korea ventures to wage war against this potential, then a World War begins. ‘Rudolf Steiner,’ a famous European Gnostic from 20 years ago, clearly said that “when history faces a paradigm change amongst its grand civilizations, a small, poor nameless people will arise to herald the advent of a new era. The . When the Roman Empire was falling, the people were the . Now, where do these people stand? In the Far East. Takahashi Iwao, who studied under Steiner, in turn says, “Those people are the Koreans.” Korea now begins to propose this ‘Holy Grail.’ In the form of ‘Neo Renaissance ’ and ‘Chang Po-ko’s attempt at Pacific marine economy.’ President Park Kǔn Hye is emphasizing the ‘fusion of culture and creative economy.’ And at the same time, North Korea continues its nuclear threat. What is , and who is ? It is the etymological origin of Korea’s folk song . “Let’s hold hands and live in harmony” means ‘fusion.’ How can this be the title of ‘Neo Renaissance’? , widely found in folk songs from the southern and northern regions of Korea, ‘Pansori’ and ritual songs, ‘Yukchabaeki (a brisk and lively folk tune with six words to each line)’ and Buddhist poetry, and even mask dancing, springing from the home town of Gangwondo ‘Chŏngsŏn Arirang’ and distributed along with Chungchungdo ‘Maenari,’ is the origin of fundamental , and the beginning of , which is the foundation of (white shadow). It is the primal origin of the , Benjamin’s aesthetics of transcendence. Let me state this again. is the primal origin of the . Please note that at the base of the esthetic, philosophical and historical flow I mention here, sits the ceaseless efforts of Korean intellectuals who have devoted themselves to inquiring into, and practicing, cosmic life. Korea’s philosophy of peace, pursued for centuries through and by Avatamska Buddhism and Confucian Yŏngnam studies(嶺南學), Tonghak and Chŏngyŏk (正易), and numerous Christian visionaries, is none other than , in other words the philosophy of convergence, fusion and moderation. Its most popular self-expression was the folk song Arirang, < Arirang Arirang Arariyo >. And the ‘Sinsi.’ god city, which means the at the traditional , or ‘the fusion of happiness and sorrow,’ which are the most concrete expressions in life; or ‘Chang Po-ko’ s a millennium before our time, which embodies the ‘fusion field of maritime and land economies’ based on Karl Polanyi’s ‘reciprocity, exchange, and radical redistribution’ – this is the of life. This is what I want to clearly emphasize today, at this point. The reason why this shy Korean man speaks of and the story of , making connections all the way up to ‘Neo-Renaissance’ and the Pacific market economy. What I’m saying is that our time, now, is the ‘era of the moon,’ ‘the water,’ ‘women and children,’ ‘shades and warm healing.’ I accept the Christian prophecy that millennia of human history is at the brink of annihilation. But why only several millennia? It is because Christian science grounds the origin point of history in its eschatology at the birth of Christ. It is what one might call, the view of history based on . I fully embrace this. , the key in the Myoyŏn Avatamska beginning revelation I believe in, is the three-thousand-year-old ‘Nephesh Tree (cursed perineum)’ in – that is, the hidden of women. Therefore, ‘dawn of civilization’ is my ‘ending,’ the beginning of an ‘Avatamska World,’ the of Gangwondo Chŏngsŏn’s nine-fold valleys, and the mellow aesthetics – “nine tastes” – of the green herb in , which is the hidden source of Korea’s culture of the people. That is the Chŏnbukyŏng, Korea’s most highly respected scriptures of 81 characters. It is the philosophy of ‘9x9=81.’ Also, it is the practice of bringing forth the dawn of civilization through a cosmic apocalypse – it is called, . Embracing and supporting with respect. Mosim. This is my belief, ‘Avatamska Tonghak(華嚴東學),’ and ‘the path Jesus took,’ as you all would be familiar with. There’s something I openly tell everyone. I will proclaim the secret of this land in a loud and clear voice. That ‘Kung Kung,’ an incantation in Tonghak and the secret of Chŏngkamrok (a Korean book of prophecy), will come together. That the ‘Kung’ of Korean mountains, called , and the ‘Kung’ of American waters, called , come together, and reach the , called , yin and yang. If someone asks me why I’m saying such things, this is how I’d answer. “There’s a mark inscribed here. At the very end of ‘Mitan,’ the ‘valley of weeping women’ and the ‘small ravine’ in Gangwondo, where the pronunciation of ‘Arirang’ begins to ring with the sorrow of ‘Sigim,’ there sits the mournful village of ‘Hantan,’ slanting to the side, and in front of it, the beautiful woods of ‘Pangrim’ stands luminous, the most beautiful and magnificent village in all the mountains and rivers of Gangwon. The I-Ching trigram for ‘Mitan’ and ‘Hantan’ is the mountain, namely Kan, and the trigram for ‘Pangrim’ is Tae. That’s it. This is the most important trigram in I-Ching called , Eastern culture. It is ‘Sinsi,’ god city, the best and largest socio-economic system in the East. In contemporary terms, it is a ‘reciprocal market of reciprocity, exchange, and radical redistribution’; in cultural terms, it is the of . What more can I say? I see the return of Japanese Imperialism. But I also remember that, before the great earthquake and the nuclear plant meltdown that had caused such a come-back, and embodied in and coming from Yon-Sama as the symbol of Japanese women’s self-revival movement; Karl Polanyi’s God City; and the Japanese traditional market were all eruptions of women’s power, and . Is the South Korean President Park Kǔn Hye a man? She’s a woman. Aren’t there any women in Japan, other than Korea? There are. And let me say more. In the States, a woman named ‘Hilary’ stands amidst highest expectations. Is this woman someone who’s completely unrelated to ‘Aurachi’ or the of ‘Chang Po-ko’s marine economy’? Where does her remarkable popularity, running over 19 years, come from? This is not simply the time of ‘feminism’ or ‘gender struggles.’ Is ‘Sacralion,’ Luce Irigaray’s ‘Gethsemane theme,’ simply nonsense? Islam’s secret Myoyŏn movement “true light upon darkness,” , which had been growing underground for the past 50 years, spread over to the village market movement of , which again inspired the , then went on in the form of the revolt of a fifteen-year-old Pakistan girl and the democratic protests in China – can we forget all this? Could our time’s democratic revolution, apocalypse, the dawn of civilization and the great Avatamska, be possible without ? Is Aurachi simply ‘fusion’? No. It is the cosmic life energy of the strange female perineum in the name of that famous or from the Tang dynasty, which has begun to return to the ‘female perineum cerebrum’ after thousands of years. Is it simply ‘convergence’? No. Then what is it? Now it is time for me to present the conclusion of this talk. ‘Goethe’ wasn’t a fool. ‘Women save us’ – does this realization only apply to Faust? North Korea’s nuclear threat is an opportunity. Let us now use this opportunity to create the history of new civilization based on ‘East-West fusion and convergence,’ between Korea and the U.S., across the Pacific. No?