Monday, November 2, 2009

Eunpyeong New Town, Old Tombs

Eunpyeong New Town is spreading its wings along Bukhansan, welcoming thousands of households in brand new apartment buildings.

How about former inhabitants ? The living ones have long been compensated, and the dead ones have eventually their time to shine starting this week in Seoul Museum of History*.

The dead ones ? 5,000 tombs have already been excavated in the area. Some remnants and artifacts stretching over centuries will be exposed, including bones revealing widespread scoliosis among the older generations, porcelain, earrings, or mudang (shaman) material.

Why did this site become a huge cemetery for nobles as well as for commoners ? Feng shui has something to do with it, but so did the Joseon law, which imposed a minimum distance between the royal palace and burial sites : 10 li, or about 4 km depending on which "li" you're talking.

The Royal Ten Li can be translated as 왕 십 리 or wang shib li. To get an idea, check on a map the distance between Gyeongbokgung and Wanghimni (왕십리).

Q.E.D.

Eunpyeong Excavation: The Exceptional Story
2009-11-04 ~ 2009-12-13
Seoul Museum of History - (02)724-0114

Seoul Village 2009

* and until Nov. 8, "Three Foreigners' Reminiscence of Seoul" (Albert W. Taylor in the 1920s, Fred W. Dykes in the late 1940s, Nomura Motoyuki between 1968 and 1985).

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