Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Location, Location, Location

Korean general Yoon Gwan picked a nice place to spend eternity, on a hillside north of Seoul. More than five centuries later, prime minister Shim Ji Won was buried a short distance away. Then, in the mid-18th century, the general's resting place was rediscovered, sparking a family feud that's still burning 300 years later.

A king tried and failed to mediate. The Yoons and Shims, who respectively number one million and 250,000 in this country of 48 million people, once banned and still discourage marriage between their children.

"Not even over my dead body!" says 77-year-old Yoon Bu Hyun, a leader of the Yoon clan. "You tell me," he says. "Would you marry your son to the daughter of your sworn enemy?"
According to the experts, poongsu (the Korean equivalent of feng shui) requires that one of the patriarchs be evicted. Though considered an embarrassing superstition by many, poongsu has well-educated adherents.
"I know a politician, a graduate of Harvard University, who has moved his parents' graves eight times, almost once a year, hoping that will bring him election or a cabinet post," said Jee Jong Hag, who runs a poongsu Web site. "He moved those tombs so often that the rest of his family lost track of them. The last time I heard of him, he was still waiting for a cabinet post." [Link]

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