Sunday, April 8, 2018

Spirited Garden (Jeju)

Sung Bum-Young was born into a poor family in 1939. In 1963, he set foot on Jeju to visit a friend. He purchased land at Jeoji-ri and in 1968 started to develop the wasteland covered with stones, with no water or electricity supplied to the area. During those days, residents in his neighbourhood called him a "madman" as he developed this garden. And today the Spirited Garden is a well-maintained garden exuding a zen-like feel. Entrance fee is 12,000 won per adult and 10,000 won for seniors (65 years old and above). 

Even at the entrance, we spent some time there as my father-in-law was interested in the bonsai plants. There was also a guide on how to appreciate bonsai. Unlike how I usually just walk cursorily from plant to plant, according to the founder, you have to observe the tree, looking from the bottom to the top. There are also several etiquette to observe, including not asking the price the bonsai might sell for as beauty cannot be expressed in monetary terms.

There were nuggets of the founder's own wisdom at the signs next to the trees.

One example is this: "In spring, flowers bloom and leaves sprout. Before the blooming and sprouting comes the formation of a bud or germ. When does this germ form? Many assume that it must be either winter or spring. The correct answer is autumn... Trees prepare for the next spring as early as the previous summer or fall (mostly in June or July). And then against the cold winds of winter, they temper themselves. When spring arrives at last, they bloom their beautiful flowers. In human life, only those who prepare well for the future by enduring hardships seem to be able to enjoy the beautiful blooming season of life just like the trees that must withstand the cold winter before sprouting. It seems that resolutely enduring hardships are a prerequisite to all successes and achievements."

For a quick walk through the gardens, it will probably take around an hour. However, if you want to take a more leisurely walk through the gardens, give it around 2-3 hours.

As we completed our walk around the garden, we saw the founder and spoke to him. He was a kind-looking elderly gentleman and was happy to speak to us through his translator.

I did not have much expectations of this place but this place turned out to be rather thought provoking, and allows you to draw parallels between nature and how we should live our lives.


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