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Jeju asks for Hallasan’s protectionLocals performed the centuries-old Hallasansinje on Feb 25 to ask for safety in the year ahead
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승인 2016.02.25  16:49:02
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The Hallasansinje tradition was restarted in 2009 after being stopped by the Japanese in 1908. Photo by The Jeju Weekly

The crowd was dominated by Aradong residents, public officials and the media as Jeju vice-governor of state affairs, Kim Bang-hun, asked for Mt. Hallasan’s protection at the Hallasansinje, Sancheondan, on Feb 25.

The Hallasansinje tradition dates back to the Tamna kingdom (?-1404) when it was held at Baengnokdam at the peak of Hallasan.

Confucian scrolls are read and the mountain's blessings are sought. Photo by The Jeju Weekly

After deaths due to the cold, it was moved down to Sancheondan in 1470 in the Joseon era.

The Japanese stopped the ceremony in 1908, and for over a century the spirit of Hallasan could not be honored.

The tradition was then revived in 2009 by the Aradong Residents Committee and continues to this day.

The Chinese characters for Sancheondan mean “Mountain-River Altar” and the site of natural beauty sits at the foot of a small volcanic cone, Sosan Oreum, and between two rivers, the Sanjicheon and the Jocheon. Three rare, and atmospheric, 500-year-old pines still stand after being planted at its foundation.

Public officials and villagers donned traditional garb for the event. Photo by The Jeju Weekly

The rite itself follows Confucian tradition and is reflective of traditional “jesa” rites seen throughout Korea. Participating officials wore Joseon-era clothing and bowed before a ceremonial table laid with food and drink.

As the rites were performed, officials read Confucian texts and asked for the blessing of the mountain spirit in the year ahead.

The rite is traditionally carried out by the Choheongwan, an office held by the Jeju governor. Due to his Christian beliefs, Governor Won Hee-ryong invited his vice-governor to perform the ceremonial rite in his place.

Jeju vice-governor of state affairs, Kim Bang-hun, bows (left) to the mountain spirit. Photo by The Jeju Weekly.

The governor did make an appearance at lunch, however, offering his support to villagers.

Kang Hyeong-taek (52) from Yeongpyeong-dong, Jeju City, told The Jeju Weekly that he took part in the ritual to ask the mountain for blessings in the year ahead. “Hallasan protects us and hugs us tightly,” he said.

When asked why it was important to continue such traditions he replied:

“Because this tradition is the inheritance from our ancestors, so we have to perform it in our duty as descendants.”

Kim Bang-hun looks down as the scrolls are ceremonialy burnt. Photo by The Jeju Weekly

Another attendee, Kim Yong-il (56) of Sancheondan, agreed that it is important to continue such rites “as tools for educational purposes” as traditional culture disappears.

Does Mt. Hallasan still provide protection for the Jeju people?

“Are you asking me whether I believe in the mountain god of Hallasan? I put the belief issue aside. I wholeheartedly participate in the ritual so that I can feel peace in my heart.”

The vice-governor finds his thoughts as an official looks on. Photo by The Jeju Weekly
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