On-line Interview on "the Inkwell"
-- May/June 2002 --
Inkwell.vue topic #150:   David Mason:  Spirit of the Mountains

#0 of 232:  Linda Castellani (castle)  Wed 15 May 2002

David A. Mason grew up in Michigan during the '60s & '70s, and then furthered his education in and
around San Francisco for six years.  He has lived in South Korea for eighteen years as of 2002,
exploring it and writing about its history and culture.  He earned his second M.A. (in the History of
Korean Religions) at Yonsei University in Seoul.  He now works as a consultant for the Ministry of
Culture and Tourism.

Spirit of the Mountains is David's fourth book about Korean history, culture and tourism.  It describes
Korea's ancient and pervasive traditions of ritually respecting the spirits of its beautiful peaks, with
Shamanic, Buddhist, Neo-Confucian, Daoist and purely nationalistic themes all intertwined.  It is filled
with hundreds of David's photographs of the Mountain-Spirit paintings and shrines from all over
Korea, demonstrating both the traditions of mountain-worship and how it is still flourishing and
evolving in 21st-century high-tech Korea.

Leading the discussion is Mitsu Hadeishi, who has practiced and studied Buddhist, Taoist, and other
Eastern philosophical and spiritual traditions for twenty years, with a particular focus on Chinese and
Japanese Chan/Zen Buddhism, Chinese Taoism, Tibetan Buddhism, and some small familiarity with
Tibetan as well as Japanese Shamanic practices found in Bon and Shintoism, as well as Confucianism.
He graduated from Harvard with a degree in physics in 1987, and currently works as a multimedia and
internet software architect, doing both commercial and artistic projects with a focus on integrating
design and technology.

Please join me in welcoming David and Mitsu to Inkwell.vue!

#1 of 232:  Pseud Impaired (mitsu)  Wed 15 May 2002

Hello, David.   As I was reading your book it struck me that you must have visited a dizzying array of
different Korean temples and mountain redoubts, and along the way you must have encountered a
large number of interesting people.  I'm quite interested, in particular, in the personal interactions
you might have had with some of the practicing Man-shin shamans you came across in your journeys.  
Were there any particular personal encounters with shamans or other Koreans living in remote areas
which stand out in your mind?  What were these people like?

#2:  David A. Mason (mntnwolf)  Wed 15 May 2002

Hello, Mitsu and everyone.  Glad to be here.

Yeah, good question-- in visiting nearly a thousand Buddhist temples & Hermitages and Shamanic
shrines, during my 18 years here, I've encountered a whole wide range of strange characters.  South
Korea is still a fairly socially-conformist, personally-repressed place, but it is exactly in these
mountain/religious places that you find the real non-conformists, the dropout "bohemians" if you like,
of this society -- and the really strange, weird and disturbed!

Actually, the most common reaction i've gotten in the remote places -- where it may be that i'm the first
non-Korean ever seen there -- is just to ignore me.  It's a Korean thing.  People have a surprised
expression, like "what is HE doing here??" but then they just turn away, keep watching me from the
corner of their eye, probably hoping that i'll just go away soon and they won't have to try to speak
English to me.  If i speak some Korean, they're further shocked and have to re-assess the situation.  

That attitude of just ignoring me actually works out pretty well many times, because i can take my
photos without being restricted, and then move on to the next place (i can cover anywhere from 1 to
20 sites in a good day of hiking) without having to answer a lot of elementary questions while having
tea for an hour or more.  Some of the folks are good to talk with and i can learn some things, of
course, but some may just waste the daylight hours...  and sometimes i'm just not in the mood to chat
or explain myself.

#3:  David A. Mason (mntnwolf)  Wed 15 May 2002

When i have interacted with the monks or shamans (and there is a large gray area between those two
types!) at these sites, well, it has been interesting.  Some shamans have sharply cursed me for taking
their photo while they are pray-chanting to the San-shin [Mountain-spirit] from a distance.  Some have
made it clear that they don't mind, and have even offered to pose for me to get a better shot.  Quite a
few have submitted to on-the-spot interviews about their beliefs & practices, giving material for my

Once an elderly Buddhist nun caught me photographing the San-shin painting in the Main Hall of her
temple (which is a public place),started angrily shouting at me and demanded the film from my
camera!  I wasn't gonna give her that, and she chased me out downhill for awhile, waving her hiking-
staff...  i got away all right, but didn't ever publish that photo anywhere, since their non-permission
was obvious.    Sometimes i had to "sneak" photos, spy-like... but such problems have been rare.

Many times, Zen monks and Abbots of Monasteries have invited me in for Korean-style green tea or a
vegetarian meal in their quarters or out on the wooden porch (which i gladly accept), or even to
spend the night (which i almost always decline).   We've had fascinating chats.  They're usually excited
(and a bit shocked) to find that i'm interested and already knowledgeable about their traditions.  
They're pleased with my subject of study, even regretful that no Korean has yet done such a book.  
They tell me stories and info about San-shin from their own point of view.  Some of them buy a book  :-
)   Some give me cool gifts (and get a book in return).  Some try to recruit me into monkhood, or at
least to be more active in Buddhism.  Most've been fully supportive of my research.  I've made a few
lasting friends.

#4:  Pseud Impaired (mitsu)  Thu 16 May 2002

I notice that you on a couple occasions make brief reference to your own meditative attempts to attain
a vision of a San-shin, etc.  I am curious to what extent you explored this in your travels and
conversations and studies, and in what way this might have influenced you personally?  I don't mean
necessarily just with respect to the San-shin but also with respect to Korean Shamanism more
generally, or Korean Buddhism or Daoism, etc.

#5:  David A. Mason (mntnwolf)  Thu 16 May 2002

I've always been interested in religions and spiritual practices, but have always been a skeptic, even
atheist, about every sort of deity.  A lot of Koreans are afraid of shamans and Shamanic deities and
have warned me not to do what I do, fearing curses and bad fortunes.  But I don't believe that gods
and spirits and ghosts "really" exist, I think they are creations of our mind as it interacts with the
greater Mind of the biosphere (cf: the works of Gregory Bateson).  So I don't fear them, but just feel
free to play with them, let them influence my subconscious.  Just thought I should get that out of the
way at the beginning….

When I have visited San-shin shrines, I usually do a Korean-style bowing and chanting to the icon,
after I take a photo of it.  Sometimes I state a prayer during that, of a pretty standard form, seeking the
wisdom, clarity and strength that the San-shin represents.  This is to show respect for what I am
photographing, and also as a spiritual practice of my own.  I don't know that anybody in the world has
ever prostrated and prayed at more different Mountain-spirit shrines than I have…

One time in June 1998, the Abbot of a Zen temple nearby where I was living (a friend) held a three-day-
long session with me of continuously bowing and chanting to the San-shin (in shrine of his temple).  
We were hoping that I would have an authentic vision of the mountain spirit, to better inform my
research, either on the spot or in a dream… but no vision came, sad to say.   I'd still love to have one.

#6:  Pseud Impaired (mitsu)  Thu 16 May 2002

The notion of deities-as-metaphor isn't far removed from the interpretation present in many varieties
of Buddhism, at least of the varieties that I have studied (which hasn't included very much Korean
forms, except for some study of Korean Zen --- something I hope to rectify), as I'm sure you know.  
What they are metaphors for, exactly, isn't completely spelled out --- many of these same Buddhists
tend to take an empirical attitude towards this question, i.e., to what extent they refer to psychological
or perhaps transpersonal principles is a question left mostly unanswered.  In particular many of the
so-called "higher" teachings explicitly eschew metaphysics (a la Nagarjuna) --- though I suspect most
Asian Buddhists believe in some sort of transpersonal reality beyond that which is obviously visible,
at the same time the notion of "deity" is nevertheless still considered to be a kind of metaphor, not to
be taken literally.

I wonder what sense you got from different people you encountered as to their attitudes of the
metaphysical status of these entities.  Did their attitudes vary based on whether they approached the
San-shin notion from a Buddhist, say, or a shamanistic standpoint?  A priori I would imagine that
perhaps the shamans tended to take the idea more literally --- or has Korean shamanism adopted the
metaphysical skepticism found in some strains of Buddhism (as has, for example, the Bon tradition in
Tibet --- which at this point is difficult to distinguish from Tibetan Buddhism?)

#7:   David A. Mason (mntnwolf)  Thu 16 May 2002

Your intuition is correct -- the Shamans and Shamanic-monks, and less-educated countryside lay
worshippers, always claim that San-shin is a "real" entity, they believe it has a personality and can
affect/afflict their lives & fortunes (sorta like a Greek god), perhaps they have "seen" it.  Those who
claim to have encountered it often describe it as manifested as a tiger, often a sacred white tiger;
they produce no photographs (there are, actually, no tigers left in Korea; they're extinct since 1935 or
so).  They worship San-shin to avoid misfortunes and gain real-world benefits.

Better-educated urban-origin monks & layfolk see it as a metaphor or sacred symbol, in the Zen-
Buddhist style; Neo-Confucians and some monks include a vague collective-ancestor identity to the
patriarchal grandfather-figure -- tying it in with National Founder King Dan-gun (as discussed in my
book p. 132-138).   They see ritual respect of San-shin as a "spiritual practice" for themselves, as i do.

Very few Koreans i've encountered regard San-shin as i outlined in my last Chapter -- as symbol of
traditional Korean culture, as eco-symbol, as icon of national *cultural* re-unification.   Yet.

For me personally -- it's good to have found a deity i can love, can bow & chant & pray to sincerely,
can meditate on, can even proselytize a bit  ;-)   -- hey, everybody should have at least one.

#8:   Pseud Impaired (mitsu)  Thu 16 May 2002

> there are, actually, no tigers left in Korea

Yes, I noticed that in one of your footnotes; a terrible aftereffect of the Japanese militarist occupation
(although I am Japanese-American and was not born in Japan, I still find myself ashamed at the
Japanese militarists' crimes --- in defense of Japanese culture I can only say that such behavior was
and is utterly antithetical to the original samurai ethics --- my own family, an old samurai family, was so
opposed to the militarists that my great-grandfather sent his children to America to avoid dying for
those idiots.  Which is why I am here.)

One thing I found somewhat puzzling about your account of the San-shin's status in Korea is the fact
that it seems to be simultaneously so popular that Buddhists felt a need to reintroduce the San-shin
to temples where it had been removed, and yet you also allude to the relatively low level of
awareness of San-shin among other parts of the Korean population.  Is there a big divide in terms of
awareness of San-shin between urban and rural populations?  Who is aware of it, and who isn't?

#9:   David A. Mason (mntnwolf)  Thu 16 May 2002

Well, on the extinction of tigers -- I wouldn't really blame "Japanese militarist occupation" for that.  
True, it happened due to the Japanese bringing in modern guns to use for more-efficient over-
hunting.  But if the Japanese hadn't been running Korea, the Koreans themselves would have
acquired the guns and done the same thing; it just would've taken a little longer.  The Koreans have
virtually extincted the black bears, mule deer and every other wild animal larger than a rabbit, post-
Korean-War, all by themselves.  Until quite recently they've never shown much interest in ecological
preservation or protection at all (unless it was the US Army caught polluting something!).  We're trying
to turn that around, but it's way slow.  So... one LESS thing for Japanese to feel guilty about or be
blamed for...

#10:   David A. Mason (mntnwolf)  Thu 16 May 2002

Awareness and popularity of San-shin:
yeah, that's a tricky thing to describe.  Almost any Korean knows what the term means.  Christians (20%
of the pop?) know that they don't like it, or at least are supposed to oppose it.  Buddhists, Confucians,
new-nationalist-religionists and atheists know that it fits into the traditional-culture matrix somehow,
and accept it.

A few Buddhist monks oppose its worship in Zen temples, as I tell on page 184.  Millions of people
"believe in" San-shin enough to perform the rituals and donate cash at the shrines; enough that new
bigger fancier San-shin shrines keep being built.  But very few can tell ya much info on it, or identify
the symbolism in San-shin icons.  

Quite a few urban folks will tell you that it's "just an old superstition" that they never think about.  
More than a few of those are just avoiding embarrassment by "acting modern" in front of the
Westerner.  Just like how MANY young Koreans still visit fortune-tellers, but most won't admit it
openly.  It's complex.  And a tough thing to "research" because some people don't answer honestly...

Certainly, official and scholarly recognition lag way behind actual popularity.  The government still
doesn't recognize San-shin as key to Korean culture, as a symbol of Korea, as a draw for tourism or a
good image for promotion, etc.  I'm working to change that, but there's a lot of resistance.

As my book shows, San-shin is truly central to traditional Korean culture, as such a wide range of
other religious and folk-custom factors are linked to it.  However, my book was the first book ever in
English on it, and there had been no *major* work on it in Korean at all -- this always surprised me.  

Koreans, too.  So many professor-types have leafed through the book, amazed at the range of the
subject, recognizing the importance, and seemingly stunned that it hadn't been "done" before. The
most common reaction i get to the book & web-site from scholars, journalists etc is explicit shame-at-

It's uncomfortable to be causing so much shame!  I was embarrassed when presenting on a panel at a
major academic conference in Daegu last Sept, and the Korean prof introducing me waved my book,
thundering "This foreigner has done what WE did NOT do!  He did what we OUGHT to have DONE!".  

#11:  Pseud Impaired (mitsu)  Thu 16 May 2002

Very interesting.  I am curious about this because although Japanese have also left behind a lot of
their heritage in the rush towards modernization, I don't get the sense that Japanese have this
sense of embarrassment about their old traditions and nature religions.  They are not nearly as
central to Japanese life as they once were, but at the same time they're still seen as quite "normal"
even if somewhat quaint, nothing to be embarrassed about, still a source of tourism, etc.  

I wonder why you think that some urban Koreans may feel this sense of embarrassment regarding
their national religious/cultural heritage?

On another subject, there is one thing which I have often wondered about, which is the special use
of color in Korean culture.  Color in Korean paintings and traditional clothing strikes me as quite
beautiful and also different from, say, color as it is used in China or Japan.  Do you have any thoughts
about the Korean traditional use of color, how it might have evolved, and/or the meaning of this use
of color?

#12:  David A. Mason (mntnwolf)  Fri 17 May 2002

It's a fact that many urban Koreans feel a sense of embarrassment regarding their national
religious/cultural heritage, particularly those who came of age in the '70s - '80s.  The dominant theme
then was "we should be modern, and throw away all the old-fashioned superstitious crap that held
our ancestors back, and adopt The American Package instead -- blue jeans, coffee, Hollywood,
sports, chemical medicines, computers, English Lit, consumerism, classical music, sex-oriented
commercialism and Protestant Christianity".  Just a natural -- and maybe necessary -- part of the
industrialization /modernization thang.  Which the (south) Koreans have been extremely successful
at, far more than most of the 2nd or 3rd World.

The 88 Olympics started an "Our Culture" backlash.  My late teacher/ mentor Zo Zayong (see website)
was a big part of getting that going.  It's progressing pretty well, i guess -- knowledge of and pride in
and display of what is "really Korean" -- very much selected -- is growing.  I'm doin' what i can to
encourage that along...

#13:  David A. Mason (mntnwolf)  Fri 17 May 2002

The traditional Korean use of color seems rooted in their strong Shamanic heritage.  It's one of the
things that first attracted me to Korea.  The Japanese use of plain unfinished wood is cool for its
simplicity and naturalism, but just gets TOO stark after awhile.  The Chinese (and Japanese Shinto)
over-use of Fire-Engine-Red trimmed with gold is exciting but just SO tastelessly garish after awhile.

The Koreans get it just right, in-between -- rich colors but earth-tones, deep dull red with
forest-green, cobalt-blue and imperial yellow, intertwined complexly making a rich harmony.  
Temple/shrine buildings painted this way rest prominently but perfectly harmoniously amidst the pine
& maple forests and gray granite cliffs.  I never get tired of seeing them.

#14:  Pseud Impaired (mitsu)  Fri 17 May 2002

I'd agree with your assessment of Korean use of color.  Especially when watching traditional Korean
dancing, I find it quite spectacular.  Korean traditional dress is very appealing in its use of color, in
my opinion.

Another question I have regards the nature of Korean mountain worship itself.  As you describe, the
San-shin is sometimes regarded as an actual human being who eventually reached a level of spiritual
realization which allowed him or her to become a San-shin.  In other places, however, you discuss
the San-shin as a sort of personification of the spirit of the mountain itself.  To what extent are San-
shin seen to be in some sense co-extensive with the mountain (is San-shin worship seen as worship
of a spirit who just happens to live on a mountain, or worship of the spirit of the mountain itself?)

#15:  David A. Mason (mntnwolf)  Fri 17 May 2002

Well, it can be both.  The nature of all Shamanism is that it's very inclusive, ambiguous and tolerant of
contradiction.  Or maybe we should say that the potentially mind-bending transcendence of either /or
dualities is the nature of religion?  "Jesus was both fully human and fully divine", that sortta thing...  
Saying that it's one way and also simultaneously is another contradictory way doesn't seem to bother
the general Korean religious mind one bit.

Most all of the thousands of San-shin in Korea are the spirit of the mountain itself, manifest in human
(and/or tiger) form.  A few of the greatest and most famous mountains have sort of additional
San-shin spirits that were once people.  Could be a legendary person, like "Holy-bone General",
ancestor of the founder-king of the Koryeo Dynasty (918-1390) who was married and sortta absorbed
by the female San-shin of Pine-crags Mountain north of Kaesong City (which became the Koryeo
capital) (book pg 36).  Or Korea's original founder-king Dan-gun at Mysterious-Fragrance Mountain
(pages 132-138).

Or could be real people, like murdered King Dan-jong whose ghost rode a few dozen miles on a
white horse to become the "supplementary spirit" of the already famous & powerful Grand White
Mountain.  Like Yi Songgye, general and then founder-king of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) who is
seen as San-shin of the bizarre-shaped Horse-Ears Mountain (book pg. 34 and
http://www.san-shin.org/newdis-02.html ).  

Or like the twin-brother Buddhist monks who became extra San-shin after their deaths for the
protection of the temples at Meditation-Clouds Mountain in the same province (page 35).  This is
right now in the process of happening with a recently deceased old monk who lived out his days on
South Mountain in the ancient Shilla capital Kyeongju <

I won't be a bit surprised if it happens with my late teacher/mentor Zo, "the tiger of Sogni-san"
http://www.san-shin.org/Zo-01.html> -- there were signs of that at his funeral (like, his
funerary-portrait was set up in front of a San-shin painting of his by the officiating Shaman, and they
were ritually-respected together).

#18:  Pseud Impaired (mitsu)  Sat 18 May 2002

Along the same vein as my last question: in addition to the portraits of the San-shin spirits, to what
extent is there present in Korean art a tendency to make paintings or drawings of the physical
mountains themselves?   I am thinking, of course, of the many pictures of Fujisan in Japan, which
is a central national symbol --- is there a similar tradition in Korea, or do San-shin portraits take
the place of this?

On a different subject, I am curious about the extent to which you might feel Korean shamanism
and/or the San-shin tradition can be found influencing everyday Korean customs and culture.  That is
to say, not so much the conscious awareness of this, but rather unconscious habits of interaction or
ways of thinking or perceiving.  In what ways does it show up in language and/or customs and/or
societal structures, as you have observed?

#19:  Gerry Feeney (gerry)  Sat 18 May 2002

My humble review, for what it's worth:

The new book, _Spirit of the Mountains: Korea's SAN-SHIN and Traditions of Mountain-Worship_, by
David A. Mason, is at first striking because of its physical appearance.  The luxurious thick glossy
stock and abundance of beautiful, full-color photographs enable it to easily pass for an elegant
"coffee-table book."  But don't let its looks fool you.  The text is substantial and informative.  What's
more, it informs on a subject that is certainly obscure for most non-Koreans, and perhaps for many
Koreans, as well.  

Writing in an easy-going, first-person narrative style, David Mason treats the reader to a
comprehensive survey of Korean _San-shin_ imagery, together with a thorough analysis of its
composition, history, development, influences, etc.  While Mason's writing is casual in style, it is at
the same time, quite scholarly, given its numerous references, notes, and a substantial bibliography.  

San-shin means "Mountain-spirit, Mountain God, or Spirit of the Mountains," he tells us.  It refers to
the belief that each mountain is the home of a spirit or mountain-god that can grant protection,
healing, and even spiritual gifts.  The iconography associated with San-shin is amazingly diverse and
rich in symbolism.  The essence, though, is nearly always a grandfatherly figure, a tiger, and a gnarly
pine tree in the background.  The book contains several hundred photographs of various San-shin
icons (as well as of other subjects), and Mason offers the reader explanations and analyses of the
underlying meanings of the symbols.

Mason explains that mountain worship is both primordial and universal in origin, but at the same
time, San-shin has been assimilated and syncretized with other traditions that make it uniquely
Korean. For instance, he writes that nearly a century ago, a Christian missionary observed that
Korean mountain worship had certain similarities to worship practices he'd found on mountains in
the Middle East.  Indeed, those instances as well others found in the Himalayas, Greece, among
natives of North and South America, and elsewhere, allude to the mythological construct that Joseph
Campbell referred to as "the central mountain of the earth."  But Mason also shows how San-shin
evolved from ancient shamanism and over time blended with Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and
Korean nationalism to form part of the core of the collective Korean psyche.  

It's interesting that the mountain worship practices have survived and flourished to a far greater
extent in Korea than anywhere else on earth.  Given that "Seventy-five-percent of the Korean
Peninsula is nearly-uninhabitable mountainous terrain," it should come as no surprise that a
"Mountain Spirit" or "Mountain God" became a central feature of Korean self-identity.  Perhaps what
is surprising is how well San-shin has assimilated with other religious and cultural traditions.  From
the book, it appears that the only serious clash has been with certain Christians - both Korean and
foreign - who regard San-shin as devil-worship and have worked hard to suppress it.  Sadly, Mason
informs us, there have even been cases where Christians have vandalized San-shin shrines and
relics.  The silver lining of that dark cloud, according to Mason, is that some Korean Christians have
actually adopted certain San-shin practices, even as they deny doing so.

_Spirit of the Mountains_ is visually dazzling, a worthwhile read, and a fascinating pilgrimage to
Korea's sacred sites - one that very few people could ever hope to make in person.

Gerald Feeney
Host of "cross", the WELL's Christianity Conference

#20:  David A. Mason (mntnwolf)  Sat 18 May 2002

Welcome to the conversation, Gerald.  Thanks for the good review.  I think you got it right...

> The luxurious thick glossy stock and abundance of beautiful,
> full-color photographs enable it to easily pass for an elegant "coffee-table book."
> Mason's writing is casual in style, it is at the same time, quite scholarly,
> given its numerous references, notes, and a substantial bibliography.

When deciding with my publisher how to pitch this book -- tourist / coffee-table or academic market --
they decided to try for both.  (Koreans often try to compromise the Hard Questions).  Of course we
ended up not satisfying either audience.  Tourist-types have said it's a bit dry and too detailed, while
professorly reviewers find that it's too juicy, too much author in there, too much speculation and
advocacy, and my statistics are "insufficiently scientifically rigorous in presentation".   Yeeesh.    I
don't have a PhD, so...

But everybody loves the photos, and a dozen Korean-studies profs have privately told me that it's
great, even if i'm "unqualified".

If you can believe it, the first actual review it got (on the Korean -Studies e-mail list) claimed that it's
not a scholarly work at all, and can't be taken seriously, because it has no footnotes!  I had to post a
rebuttal (which is generally "not done" in academia) pointing out that it has 330 ENDnotes, and WHAT
does he think all those "little numbers" throughout the text ARE...?  He lamely posted back that he
hadn't seen them because they were too small, and he had read the book (3 times, he claimed)
without his glasses on, and that hey, it's impolite to challenge a scholarly review.   After some debate,
the list-miesters deleted his "review" from the archives and asked a saner prof to re-review it.  Can
you believe it?  True Story.  That's the kind of luck i've had in the Hallowed Halls...

We are now preparing an edition translated into Korean, which might make a small splash here (as
even my English edition got plenty of media attention in Korean).  My publisher wants to move it in
the popular direction -- more Me, more stories & myths, paperback & less photos, cheaper paper --
try to SELL some.   So, i've re-worked the text and drastically chopped the footnotes...
we'll see if this pays off.

#21:  David A. Mason (mntnwolf)  Sat 18 May 2002

> a fascinating pilgrimage to Korea's sacred sites - one that very
> few people could ever hope to make in person.

As currently an Officer of the State encouraging Tourism to Korea, I am obligated to say:  many of
these places are fully accessible, tix are cheap these days, Korea is not as far away as you think it is
(David Letterman recently joked that it's 29 hours by air, which just pissed us off), language-barriers
are being overcome, prices are reasonable, Koreans are in a hospitable mood, it is again "Visit Korea
Year" -- come over and see it all for yourself   :-)

#22:  Gerry Feeney (gerry)  Sat 18 May 2002

Thank you, David.  I guess academia is a tough place, generally, and I'm guessing that Korean
academia is even tougher.  But I'm inclined to agree with your publisher as far as going in the
popular direction.

Though you did describe the process of your collection and research in the first chapter, I would
think that your *experiences* along the way (such as the example you gave to Mitsu above) could be
expanded upon greatly and would be very interesting to readers who enjoy travel tales.  What an
adventure!  Someone wanting to retrace your steps during a vacation to Korea would only be able
cover a small fraction of the ground you've covered.

I've always wanted to visit Korea, and I hope to be able to do so in the near future.
For a few weeks of the late Spring of 2002 I was the guest of the well-known
book-author-interview internet-site "
Inkwell.vue" (run by The Well
discussion-forum of San Francisco, where I've been a member since 1993).  A
bunch of us talked about my book Spirit of the Mountains and the related
issues.  The slightly-edited transcript follows.  It contains a lot of good
background info about San-shin and Korea, stories from my research, and
discussion about it all.  I happy with how the whole discussion went off.

Posting your reactions & questions on this site's Guest-book is most welcome!