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What Is Pungsu-Jiri? Korean Feng Shui

The ancient Korean custom of placing structures in favourable places, known as Pungsu jiri, was created in the ninth century by a Buddhist monk by the name of Master Doseon. This form of geomancy, which translates to “the study of the earthy patterns of wind and water,” is analogous to the Daoist idea of feng shui and concentrates on topography.

The changing seasons and the physical geography of a person’s location are examples of natural phenomena that are connected to health and pleasure in Korean cultural ideas. The fundamental idea behind pungsu jiri is the significance of establishing your house in an auspicious site, or “myeongdang.” You and your descendants find tranquilly by living in a myeongdang and subsequently being buried at a similarly blessed location.

What Is Pungsu-Jiri?

The main themes and ideas of Korean Geomancy, also known as Pungsu-jiri-seol [Wind-Water Earth-Principles-theory, or “Study of the Patterns of Wind and Water,”], were created by the great meditation master Doseon-guksa in the late 900s, or at least the earliest records we have of him doing so. Some Koreans studied Chinese Daoism during the Three Kingdoms and Unified Pungsu-jiri-seol is a term used to describe a sort of topographic divination used in Korea, or a theoretical framework that links various land, mountain, and water elements to human fortune, misfortune, peace, and advancement or decline.

Feng-shui, the modern name for the ancient Chinese Daoist geomancy, is widely used in Western countries. This contains some vaguely scientific notions of geography, geology, and energies (mixed with numerology and other overt superstitions) that interact in a variety of fascinating ways with the more ancient shamanic notions of San-shin [mountain spirits]—sometimes in ways that are antagonistic or competitive, and other times in ways that are complementary.

Feng-shui was established in close association with Seon [Meditational, Zen] Buddhism rather than formal Daoism in Korea because of the dearth of formal Daoism in that country (the rise in popularity of both was caused by the decline of Shilla royal power in the 800s and the rising self-interests of provincial clans, who used them to justify their independence).

Master Doseon left his family at an early age to study astronomy, astrology, mathematics, cosmology, and feng shui in China using Buddhist and Daoist principles. Doseon returned to Korea and toured the entire peninsula to take in its topography and special vitality. Legend has it that following his travels, a mountain spirit known as “Sanshin” came to see him and taught him the techniques of pungsu jiri.

In contrast to feng shui, pungsu jiri emphasises harmony with nature and the spiritual energy of mountains more so than it does the placement of objects inside the home. Baekdu-daegan, the notion that the Korean Peninsula has a “earth energy spine” that supplies energy to everything, is a fundamental concept of pungsu jiri.

In Korea, a lot of temples are constructed on “hyeol,” an auspicious location on a mountainside where it is said that the energies of heaven and earth converge. Pungsu jiri adherents think that these areas enhance visitors’ health.

Even though pungsu jiri has been around for centuries, it is still used today in Korea. Finding lucky burial grounds for family members and considering how natural energy would effect the placement of residential and commercial zones in city planning are contemporary instances of the tradition.

James Yeong
James Yeong

Once a quaint dweller of the English countryside, James is now a vibrant voice narrating his adventures in the bustling heart of South Korea. Since relocating to Seoul in 2019, James has immersed himself in the dynamic tapestry of Korean culture, from the serene temples tucked away in mountainous terrains to the neon-lit streets of modern cities.

This blog has become a haven for those seeking an outsider's yet intimate perspective on South Korea, often shedding light on hidden gems and local favourites rather than just the typical tourist hotspots. With a keen eye for detail and a writing style dripping with wit and warmth, James has managed to amass a devoted readership from all corners of the globe.

Whether you're planning a trip to the Seoul, the surrounding cities or just vicariously traveling from the comfort of your couch, Jame's tales of exploration and discovery are sure to ignite a passion for the Land of the Morning Calm.

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