After the Byungja Horan, the Manchu invasion of the Josun dynasty, Jeong Yeong-bang gave up on being a state official and left for Imcheon, where he stayed as a hermit. He accepted his natural surroundings, using stones to build himself a place to live. There he lived the rest of his life with the aim of becoming a Daoist heavenly man. Even to this day, his house is managed by his descendants who keep the place clean and treat visitors with home-grown tomatoes.
Lee Ha-gon was born into a prestigious family and passed a civil service examination with the highest score, but discontinued his studies owing to a shifting political climate. But he kept close contact with prominent literary scholars of his time. He returned to his home in Jincheon and built a private library, which he named Man-gwan-lu and kept his books. He also built a pavilion named Sig-yeong-jeong and spent the rest of his life enjoying the beautiful moonlit nights. All that is left of Man-gwan-lu now is an old annex that used to be attached to the main building, and the site where Sig-yeong-jeong used to be is now owned by somebody else.
It is not an easy task to preserve or restore cultural sites and buildings. Before doing either of these things, one should first think about the meaning of culture. The establishment of new cultural spaces should also be considered.
Professor Choi Jae-nam is a professor in the Department of Korean Language & Literature. He received his master’s degree in Korean Language & Literature in Seoul National University (SNU) and his Ph.D. in Korean Language & Literature in SNU.