A Study of Geomancy in Korea

Edited by Hong-key Yoon

Subjects: Korean Studies, Environmental Philosophy, Geography
Hardcover : 9781438468693, 444 pages, January 2018
Paperback : 9781438468709, 444 pages, January 2019

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Table of contents

List of Figures and Tables

PART I. Toward a History of Geomancy in Korea
An Overview of Its Development

1. Introduction: Historical and Cultural Studies of Geomancy in Korea
Hong-key Yoon

1 A Journey to the Collective Authorship of This Book
2 The Aim and Objectives of This Book
3 The Contents and Structure of This Book
4 Astro-Geomancy in Korea
5 The Definition of P’ungsu and Korean Geomancy
6 Why Geomancy Instead of Fengshui? The Roots of Western Academic Studies of Fengshui (Geomancy)
7 Review of Modern Research on Korean Geomancy

2. The Eight Periods in the History of Korean Geomancy
Hong-key Yoon

1 From the Time of Introduction to the Time toward the End of the Silla Dynasty before Tosŏn, the Geomancer-Monk (from the Ancient Era to the Ninth Century)
2 From the Time of Master Tosŏn to King Kojong of the Koryŏ Dynasty (from the Ninth Century to 1259)
3 The Paucity of Practicing Geomancy during the Mongol Domination (1231–1356)
4 From King Kongmin of the Koryŏ Dynasty, Post Mongol, to the Fourth King of the Chosŏn Dynasty, King Sejong (1351–1450)
5 From King Sejo (r. 1455–1468) to the Time before the Rise of Sirhak or the Practical Learning School (1670)
6 From the Sirhak School to the End of the Chosŏn Dynasty (1670–1910)
7 The Period of Japanese Colonial Rule (1910–1945)
8 From the Liberation (1945) to the Present

3. Geomancy and Major Social Upheavals (Armed Uprisings) in the History of Korea
Hong-key Yoon

1 The Myoch’ŏng Rebellion
2 The Hong Kyŏngnae Rebellion
3 Chŏn Pongjun and the Tonghak Peasants’ Movement
4 Summary Remarks on Geomancy and Social Upheavals

4. Government Affairs Relating to Geomancy during the Time of Premodern Korea
Hong-key Yoon

1 Government Examinations for Geomancers
2 Government Bureaus of Geomancy
3 Important Textbooks of Geomancy during the Chosŏn Dynasty

5. A Glimpse of Environmental Management through Geomancy in Korean History
Hong-key Yoon

1 Official Records on the Impact of Geomancy on Vegetation in Korean History
2 A Small Grove of Trees around a Commoner’s Grave as a Means of Environmental Management
3 Royal Graves and Conservation of Forest
4 Preference for Certain Trees in Geomancy for Cosmological Harmony
5 Geomancy and Forest Land Tenure
6 Serious Geomantic Debates on Water Pollution

6. Principal Characteristics of Korean Geomancy
Hong-key Yoon

1 Mainly Based on the Form (Landform-Landscape) School
2 Preoccupation with Grave Geomancy
3 Strong Belief in the Idea of Reinforcing Geomantic Conditions through Artificial Means or Sanch’ŏn Piboron
4 Close Association with Geomantic Prophecies or Chiri Toch’am 地理 圖讖
5 A Close Association with Social Upheaval (Armed Uprisings)
6 Chigi soewangnon—the Idea that the Vital Energy of an Auspicious Site Can Wane or Wax through Time
7 Significant Impact of Geomancy on Korean Cartography
PART II. Selected Topics in Korean Geomancy
Historical-Cultural Studies

7. Geomantic Practices of Water Acquisition and Management during the Chosŏn Dynasty
Dowon Lee

1 Background
2 Acquisition and Management of Water Resources
3 Conclusions

8. Geomantic Folk Narratives on the Bamboo Groves in Chinju City: Landscape as a Sign of Geomantic and Confucian Ideology
Kim Duk Hyun

1 Understanding the Groves of Traditional Korean Settlements
2 The Groves as Signifiers
3 The Formation of Geomantic Space and Groves in Chinju
4 Decline of Nam River Groves
5 Interpretation of the Significance of Settlement Groves
6 Conclusion

9. Geomancy and Traditional Architecture during the Chosŏn Dynasty
In-choul Zho

1 Introduction
2 Characteristics of Traditional Korean Architecture and Geomancy
3 Conclusion

10. Geomantic Aesthetics in a Traditional Korean Garden: With Reference to Kosan Yun Sŏndo’s Garden
Jongsang Sung

1 Introduction: Understanding Gardens through Geomancy
2 The Relationship between the Traditional Korean Garden and Geomancy
3 The Korean Garden as a Site of Geomantic Practices
4 Principles of Geomancy Applied to Traditional Korean Gardens
5 Geomancy as the Subject of Aesthetic Study: Geomantic Aesthetics
6 Reading the Korean Garden through Geomancy: Looking at the Puyongdong Wollim
7 Conclusion

11. Geomantic Landscape of a Sailing Boat: An Examination of Cultural Ecological Links
Hong-key Yoon

1 The Formation of Geomantic Landscapes
2 Types of Geomantic Landscapes in Korea
3 Geomantic Landscapes as a System Comparable to a Mini-Gaia
4 The Site Characteristics of the “Landscape of a Sailing Boat”
5 Concluding Remarks

12. Geomantic Modification of Landforms: The Idea of Chosan Pibo
Hong-key Yoon

1 Introduction
2 Previous Studies on P’ungsu and Chosan Pibo
3 The Three General Premises of the Geomantic Idea of Pibo
4 Historical Examples of Chosan Pibo
5 Characteristics of Chosan Pibo
6 The Significance of the Geomantic Idea of Pibo as a Geographic Agent in the History of Humanity
7 Conclusion

13. Geomancy and Psychology: A Psychological Analysis of Geomancy
Cheol Joong Kang

1 The Significance of a Psychological Study of Geomancy
2 Symbol and Psyche
3 Psychological Aspects of Auspicious Places
4 Reflective Remarks on a Psychological Analysis of Geomancy
5 Conclusion

14. Geomancy and Buddhism: An Examination of the Interaction during the Koryŏ Period
Won-suk Choi

1 Introduction
2 The Origin and Development of Interaction between Buddhism and Geomancy
3 Buddhism and Geomancy in Connection with Political Leadership
4 Mutually Beneficial Relationships between Buddhism and Geomancy
5 Conclusion

15. Geomantic Discourses of the Chosŏn Confucian Literati
Hwa Lee

1 Geomancy Discourse of the Chosŏn Royal Court: “Unbelievable but Indisposable”
2 Chinese Confucian Predecessors’ Geomancy Practical Index
3 Confucian Scholar-Officials’ Adoption of Geomancy
4 Reasons for the Adoption of Geomancy: Its Economic Aspects and Burial Site Litigations 山訟
5 Conclusion

16. Geomantic Ideas in T’aengniji Manuscripts: An Examination of Changing Perceptions of P’ungsu during the Late Chosŏn Dynasty
Inshil Choe Yoon

1 Why T’aengniji Manuscripts?
2 Constant Features of Geomancy
3 Changes in Geomantic Discourses over Time
4 Conclusion

17. Concluding Remarks and Reflections
Hong-key Yoon
List of Contributors

The first scholarly book to address Korean geomancy through an interdisciplinary lens.


This book is a milestone in the history of academic research on the development and role of geomancy (fengshui in Chinese and p'ungsu in Korean) in Korean culture and society. As the first interdisciplinary work of its kind, it investigates many topics in geomancy studies that have never been previously explored, and contains contributions from a number of disciplines including geography, historical studies, environmental science, architecture, landscape architecture, religious studies, and psychoanalysis. While almost all books in English about geomancy are addressed to general readers as practical guides for divining auspicious locations, P'ungsu is a work of rigorous scholarship that documents, analyzes, and explains past and current practices of geomancy. Its readers will better understand the impact of geomancy on the Korean cultural landscape and appreciate the significant ecological principles embedded in the geomantic traditions of Korea; while researchers will discover new insights and inspirations for future research on geomancy not only in Korea, but in China and elsewhere.

Hong-key Yoon is Associate Professor of Cultural Geography at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and the author of The Culture of Fengshui in Korea: An Exploration of East Asian Geomancy.


"…the book is a substantial, well-edited, and scholarly sound collection, which will be the chief reference on p'ungsu for years to come. " — Religious Studies Review

"The book is the product of an ambitious project that brought the seven authors together over a series of four workshops between 2009 and 2011 with ample opportunity to consult with each other and with the editor. Yoon himself has written more than half of the chapters yet he has also invited an array of distinctive specialist projects beyond the scope of a single scholar. The culmination of years of planning, the resulting volume was clearly a labour of love, enhanced by a wealth of illustrations of historical sites, geomancy maps, and artifacts … one gains a deeper, richer knowledge of life in the Korean past by reading this volume. " — Pacific Affairs

"…a rich reading and learning experience … I highly recommend reading P'ungsu as an appropriate introduction to the traditional theories and practices of East Asian geomancy. " — David J. Nemeth, AAG Review of Books