|Seoul's Nam-san 남산
the Inner-Southern Guardian Mountain
originally named Mokmyeok-san
262 meters high Part of the Bukhan-san Sub-range
Date: February 13, 2007 The government is finally ready to begin the serious work
behind the plan to restore the forest located in central Seoul. The Northern Regional
Forest Service revealed last weekend that it will make a full-fledged effort to restore the
forest on Seoul's once-southern, now-central mountain Namsan starting from this year.
The city aims to make Namsan's forest an eco-friendly spot and natural ecological
museum. The agency announced that it has already launched a joint research group
with the Seoul National Forest Station. The 21-member Namsan Rehabilitation Project
will research the original state of Namsan's forest and compare those findings to its
present condition. The Korea Forest Research Institute, Korea National Arboretum and
Seoul Metropolitan City will assist them in their work.. This year, the team will gather
data on and analyze the overall flora and fauna of the area to create a database for
systemic management. The project reserved for next year will include collection of
public opinions from citizens and environmental groups on what to plant and other
details for proper restoration of the forest. Namsan was proclaimed a national park in
March 1940 but was officially put under municipal care in September 1984. Of its total
296 hectares of land, 186 are still designated as a national forest. "In the long term we
have to remove asphalt and concrete road along with other artificial facilities that
surround Namsan Park and form a natural surroundings with pine trees and others to
help the place come back to its original form," a forest service official said. Namsan,
literally "South Mountain," is 262 meters high with over 60 species of trees, plants and
animals. It has long been a place for early morning joggers, hiking and other recreational
activities for Seoulites. The N-Tower on the top of the mountain provides an excellent
birds-eye-view of the capital city's expanse.
Oriental Arch Gyeongbok:
At Taejo's behest, master geomancers (practitioners of pungsu) fanned out across the land, searching
for the ideal spot to build a fitting capital city. One such site was discovered near modern-day Daejeon
at the foot of Mt. Gye-ryeong. With Taejo's blessing, work began quickly on the site and soon
foundation stones were readied in the ground. However, work abruptly ceased when Taejo became
convinced that Hanyang (modern-day Seoul) would make a better site. Taejo was persuaded by the
prophecies of Doseon, a 10th-century priest and master geomancer who aided the founder of the
previous dynasty in the selection of a capital. Doseon had correctly prophesied the founding of Goryeo,
and had made a prediction that the next dynasty would base itself at Hanyang and rule for 500 years.
Taejo decided to heed the ancient priest and moved the capital to Hanyang, fulfilling the prophecy.
What he could not have known was that his dynasty did indeed last about 500 years as Doseon
predicted, surviving until 1910 when Korea was annexed by the Japanese Empire.
Taejo's geomancers found at Hanyang the potential for an ideal capital. Using pungsu, they selected
four sites for royal residences where the topography of the land heralded good fortune for the dynasty.
The most auspicious of all sites was the northernmost one, and it was there that they decided to build
the main royal palace and major government buildings of the young Joseon dynasty.
The geographical center of Seoul (in its contemporary boundaries, all 25 districts) was found to
be at the northeast corner of Mt. Nam-san's summit, just NE of the Tower, in January 2009. The
Seoul Metrpolitan Government announced that the GPS coordinates of the center are 37˚33′06″ N
and 126˚59′30″ E, and it built a symbolic plaza with designation-monument there in 2010.
This graceful mountain in the middle of central Seoul north of the Han River, and coincidentally
standing at the geographical center of the entire Seoul Metropolitan City Region, is known to
everyone as Nam-san. It serves as the metropolis's best-recognized landmark due to the high
observation & radio tower built on its summit by President Park Chung Hee in 1968. It formed
most of the souther border of old Hanyang when it was a secondary capital of the Goryeo
Dynasty and of the national capital throughout the Joseon Dynasty and the modern era; it now
divides "downtown Seoul" (Jung-gu District to its north, and Jongno-gu north of that) from the
Yongsan-gu District that proceeds from its southern slopes to the Han River. It has two peaks,
the western summit at 262 meters above sea-level, and the eastern hill of about 200m.
"Nam-san" (南山) is an informal term that only denotes geographical position, but has become
near-universally and even officially used. The original name was Mokmyeok-san [목멱산,
木覓山 Tree Searching Mountain]. In 1394 Taejo Yi Seong-gye, founder of the Joseon Dynasty
and Hanyang as its capital, renamed it In-gyeong-san [인경산, 仁慶山, Benevolent Celebration
Mountain], but that name was rarely employed outside of formal official records. It was also
informally called both Jongnam-san and Yeolgyeong-san [열경산, 列慶山, Arrange Celebration
Mountain] in various records, due to its topographic and geomantic position. Jongnam-san
[종남산, 終南山, Southern Border Mountain] is the longer form of "Nam-san", and is a reference
to Zhongnan-shan, the sub-range of sacred mountains south of the ancient Chinese capital
Chang-an (now named Xian City).