"Sacred Aspects and Assets of Jiri-san"
(the Exquisite-Wisdom Mountains)
a talk with showing of photos by Prof. David A. Mason
College of Hotel and Tourism Management, KyungHee University, Seoul
was held on the evening of
Tuesday, January 9th, 2007
Royal Asiatic Society (Korea Branch)
at the Somerset Palace, downtown Seoul
Result: this talk went well, although the room was too small for the 30+
people that showed up. It was digitally-video-recorded, and the resulting
video is now posted up on http://www.korea.com -- or just click HERE.
Jiri-san or the Exquisite-Wisdom Mountains is the Republic of Korea's oldest and largest National
Park. By any ancient or modern standards, it is one of the handful of most-sacred mountains in all of
Korea. It is a great national treasure, holding a vast cultural wealth which is under-utilized for inbound
tourism attraction so far. It plays a major role in various Korean religions (particularly Buddhism and
Shamanism) and ideologies of national identity, and these combine with various historical and
ecological factors to make it such an important area.
China and Japan both have well-known “sacred mountains” that are featured in their international
tourism-promotions. Korea has quite a few “sacred mountains” yet makes extremely little use their
sacred reputations and aspects for this purpose. The speaker will argue that increasingly doing so
would be of widespread benefit to both Korea's national reputation and its tourism industry, and
present this case-study as an example. He will discuss the aspects and factors of Jiri-san which make
it one of Korea's most sacred mountains, explain how it has been regarded and treated as sacred
since ancient times, and show details of its physical religious assets, especially its many Buddhist
temples and folk-shamanism Mountain-spirit shrines, which are of unique variety and vivid colorful
interest – although good information about them in English has been scarce.
David A. Mason, a Professor of Korean Tourism at Seoul’s KyungHee University and former
Consultant for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, with many years of experience in exploring the
religious character of Korea's mountains, will explain all this tonight. In an entertaining lecture backed
by projection of some of his photos, he will show the audience all the features beyond natural beauty
that make Jiri-san one of Korea's most important mountains, and one of the most interesting to visit.