Supplementary Entries and Texts for the
ENCYCLOPEDIA  OF  KOREAN  BUDDHISM
by the Venerable Hyewon and Professor David A. Mason
Deleted entire Entry:
Baekdu-daegan   백두대간   白頭大幹     would have been on page 26
     the main mountain-system of Korea

The interconnected mountain-system of the entire Korean Peninsula, particularly the
continuous mountain-range ridge-line that runs from Mt. Baekdu-san (白頭山) on the
northern border of Korea down to Mt. Jiri-san (智異山) near its southern coast, and the
geomantic earth-energy main-stream that (in theory) runs along it. This is the primary
geographical feature of Korea, dividing the nation into its major regions, and this has
been an important factor in the locations of the many Buddhist temples established
along it. It is around 1600 km long, and about 735 km of the crest-ridge within South
Korea is now accessible as a hiking trail. It branches off into over a dozen major earth-
energy-line branches that follow the lesser ranges and channel all Korea's rivers to the
surrounding seas, with hundreds of lesser branches. The term literally means "white-
head great-ridgeline”.

The Baekdu-daegan thus includes most of Korea's highest peaks, and roughly half of
its most sacred mountains (most of those not included are on its major branches). The
sources of all of Korea's major rivers of fresh waters are found along it, and thus it is
the source of life which connects Heaven and Earth, the source of religion. This is a
key concept of Pungsu-jiri (風水地理, Korean Geomancy or Feng-shui) as developed
by National Master Doseon (道詵, 827-898). The Baekdu-daegan is believed by
traditionalists of all sorts (Nationalists, Buddhists, Confucians, Shamanists, Daoists and
many others) to continuously feed essential life-energy throughout the land of Korea,
and thus into all its agricultural products and spring-waters, and thus into its people.
Its unimpeded clear flow is considered necessary for the birth and raising of heroic and
virtuous citizens, and thus for the health, strength and prosperity of the Korean Nation.
Veneration of Sansin (山神, Mountain-spirits) at the great mountains along its path is
believed to assist and increase this energy-flow.

This concept belongs to the Oriental version of the ancient and varied philosophical
doctrines known as "Vitalism" and cannot be considered fully "scientific"; it remains
"unconfirmed." It is deeply ingrained in traditional Korean culture, however, and widely
accepted in current society. It is transforming from an ancient pseudo-scientific belief to
a modern conception of the theoretical unity of the peninsula and nation, and the
ecology of the wildest remaining areas of them.


For much more information, see:  
http://www.baekdu-daegan.com