|The Tomb of "Horay" Zo Zayong
as of late 2010
South of Cheonwang-bong in the Sogni-san National Park
|Zo's tomb-site is guarded-over by the Inja-bawi / Tiger's-head of Sogni-san Cheonwang-bong. The location is here.
This inscription on the back reads:
The strength of a national culture can be estimated by how its cultural heritage is preserved. In our case, for a century
the only awareness of our remaining cultural assets was formed by foreign culture’s hierarchical standards, and
therefore devalued. The roots of our national culture are crucial things that should be protected, but they were
neglected for a long period and we must even admit that there were decades of contempt for it.
“Horay” Zo Za-yong awakened the outstanding characteristics of Korea’s indigenous culture and heightened our pride
in it during that bleak period. How could we have encouraged the essence of our national culture that has been passed-
down since (Founding-King) Dan-gun without his leadership and insight?
Zo Za-yong was born in Hwanghae Province in 1926. In 1947, he moved to United States at 21 years old, and became
an excellent structural engineer and architect. He finished graduate school at Vanderbilt and Harvard. In 1957, he
returned to his motherland ruined by the Korean War and constructed buildings such as universities and general
hospitals. These buildings are masterpieces with Zo Za-yong’s soul in them, often built in partially-Korean-style, such as
the American Ambassador’s Residence located in Jeong-dong, the YMCA on Jongno-2-ga, both in Seoul, and the
headquarters of the Salvation Army in Busan.
However, while he was applying the ancient beauty of lines and structures inspired by Seokgur-am and Dabo-tap to the
designs of modern structures, he was awakened to the fundamental ‘matrix of our culture’ -- the precious warmth and
heart-felt desires for protection and blessings soaked into the common Korean people. Afterwards, he concentrated
only on revealing and spreading the essence of our people’s soul as manifested in our folk-culture. For years he
traveled all parts of the country to examine, collect, classify, and research folk paintings, tiles, statues, shrines and
ceramic artworks. Especially, he examined the value of folk painting as a part of the root of aristocratic painting. His
research on folk painting was considered as ‘the flower of our people’s painting’ that will never be forgotten as his
primary achievement. He was not only a careful scholar, but also the leader of our national culture.
In 1970 he opened his famous Emile Museum, and it soon became a cradle of our folk culture among private Korean
museums. Based on this place Zo Za-yong became the President of the Korean People’s Museum Association, which
in these days is known as Korean Museum Association. In the 1970s he brought up a hot issue on cultural about the
movement of learning ethnic, including holding the ‘National Foundation Domestic Contest’, reconstruction of village
shrines, re-establishing guardian-spirit poles [jangseung] everywhere, reenacting lost village celebrations, and
designing / building / managing a national cultural shrine of the legendary three founders and main spirits of Korea
[Samshin-sa], which developed into the Sogni-san Samshin-hoegwan.
Such various cultural movements were thoroughly accomplished by his passion and tenacity towards them. As he was
performing his activities passionately in this way, he passed away due to overwork, at the age of 75 on January 30th in
the year 2000, while exhibiting tigers and goblins [dokkebi] to our future generations.
Although he is gone, the seeds he sowed are already firmly rooted in our native soil and have been blossoming and
continue to be a dynamic power for inspiring research and love for our national culture as it is passed-on to the next
generations. Indeed, we should be proud of being Koreans because he lived in this land.
His followers and successors have placed this simple monument to yearn for Zo Za-yong. His honorable passion and
tenacity will be a model of the ones studying our national culture for a long time to come!
|Donors for this monument and Supporters of his cause
|The poem on the front reads something like:
The Heavenly-King summit became a scenic heaven, putting aside the compliment of Sagely Virtue;
Created the blueprint to our heart, accomplished achievement in his life;
Future generations are in his debt, the teacher’s achievement left aside;
The whole world has been filled, with the rising spirit of the dragon;
Achieving a fresh name for architects, in grinding ceaseless endeavor;
As the folk-paintings now well-known to the world, celebrate the Spirit of Joseon;
Receiving a degree from Harvard, the seagull achieved its dreams;
Born in the land of Life’s flow, lived the way of a man as grand as the Han River.
Directly to the right (east) of his tomb stand three 6-feet-tall oval-shaped stone monuments, with his favorite deities designed and
carved in relief by Horae himself, his own version of the Sam-shin Trinity: the Chil-seong [seven stars of the big dipper] on left,
San-shin [Mountain-spirit] on right, and Sam-shin-halmoni [Triple-Spirit Grandmother, a matriarchal fecundity spirit] in the center.
By his own design, Zo Zayong's tomb-site is also a permanent shrine for his folk-religion ideas. In his originally-
interpreted cosmology, they also represent the Cheon-ji-in trinity of Heaven, Earth and Humanity -- root-fundamental
to all Oriental philosophy, from the I Ching thru Daoism, Confucianism, NE-Asian Buddhism and Neo-Confucianism.
On right, the Chil-seong holding a seondo peach-of-immortality on a rooster-bird represents the powers of Heaven.
Center, the Sam-shin-halmoni holds an infant and stands on a turtle (like a traditional biseok), icon of Humanity.
On the right, San-shin holds a bullocho mushroom-of-immortality [related to the medicinal herb yeongji-beoseot]
while sitting on a tiger. The three animals form a natural trinity of their own, and several other triad-interpretations of
this set of icons can legitimately be made. Compare with the earlier set Zo created in front of his nearby house...
Horay had prepared the site in advance, just above one of his houses where he held educational festivals. It is at the opening
of a deep valley which is dominated by a huge granite outcropping called the "Inja-bawi" [humane-person cliff] (the southern face
of Sogni-san's summit Cheonwang-bong), which as Zo often said, strikingly resembles the head of a tiger (with that distinct v-slash
being the nose). Horay loved that bawi, and once intended to erect a gigantic shrine to Founding-King Dan-gun beneath it; it
seems appropriate that his body now rests there below it.
The tomb is a rectangular mound with white-granite side-walls. Horay's name is carved into the front
wall in English, with the spelling "DR. CHO JA YONG", which I have found curious -- he always used
the spellings "Zo Zayong" or zozayong" himself; don't know whose decision this was. There is a
square-block granite altar in front of it, carved with Chinese characters in the traditional way.
|post-ceremony Nov 14th 2010, before the final clean-up
|his kindly & supportive wife, who died less than a year after he did, rests in an equivalent tomb beside him