Management Motivation and Landscape Interpretation of the Geumcheon-Ggugok in Jinju

Article information

J. People Plants Environ. 2023;26(6):711-724
Publication date (electronic) : 2023 December 31
doi :
1Director, Tongui Urban Research Institute, Seoul 03044, Republic of Korea
2Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, Gyeongsang National University, Jinju 52725, Republic of Korea
3Director, Inforest Landscape Design Office, Sungnam 13595, Republic of Korea
*Corresponding author: Eui-Je Lim,,
First author: Jong-Hyun Choi,,
Received 2023 October 27; Revised 2023 November 20; Accepted 2023 November 24.


Background and objective

This study aimed to identify the management motivation of Geumcheon-Gugok, located in Jinju, Gyeongsangnam-do, which distinguishes it from other Gugok Gardens, and examine what characteristics and meaning it has in terms of landscape.


The research method was a combination of literature analysis and field survey. Through analyses of old maps and literature, the establishment background and landscape elements of Geumcheon-Gugok were determined, and the changes from the original landscape were comparatively examined through field surveys. These field surveys were conducted a total of four times, and the changes and status of the Geumcheon-Gugok landscape were recorded with drawings and and photographs. Based on these, the landscape composition and characteristics of each Gok (area around a bend of meandering streams) were determined. Moreover, historical landscape relics including related pavilions and seowons (Confucian academies) distributed around Geumcheon-Gugok were surveyed and reflected in the study.


Boosa Seong Yeo-sin set a total of nine Goks (Gugok) along the Geumcheon Stream by matching the scenery of Geumcheon-Gugok with that of Zhuzi’s Mui-Gugok. Boosa recited the inspiration felt in each Gok as Gugoksi poems, which reveal the various landscape elements that make up the traditional landscape in the scenery of Geumcheon-Gugok. The total stream length of Geumcheon-Gugok is 14 km, making it one of the longest of the Gugok Gardens in Korea. The distance between each Gok is irregular, ranging from about 0.5–3.5 km, and the nine Goks were established in a top-down order according to the flow of the mountain streams. Boosa created Busajeongsa and Bangujeong Pavilions in Gok 7 and used them as a base for academic research. The original landscape of each Gok of Geumcheon-Gugok has been damaged over time and due to urbanization. By establishing and managing Geumcheon-Gugok, Boosa sought to soothe the hearts of the people in the devastated village after the wars, and create an ideal place for life.


What makes the management of Geumcheon-Gugok notably different from that of other Gugok Gardens is that it contains the idea of coexistence, “helping each other and living in harmony.” Boosa developed Dongyak (village codes) as an institutional device to create an ideal village, and managed Geumcheon-Gugok as a public framework to realize this. He also installed libraries next to pavilions in Geumcheon-Gugok, and operated an educational curriculum as a practical method to cultivate future talents. As such, Boosa’s practice is the outcome of the idea of coexistence for everyone, not just one family or clan. Geumcheon-Gugok is a very valuable landscape relic as the only Gugok Garden managed by the orthodox Nammyeong School in the right region of Gyeongsang-do. However, since the original landscape is being damaged by rapid urbanization, a proper management plan should be sought.


Research background and purpose

Of Nammyeong Cho Sik (1501–1572), a prominent scholar from Gyeongsang-woodo (the region on the right in Gyeongsang-do) during the Joseon Dynasty, and his disciples, Hangang Jeong Gu (1543–1620) was the only one who managed Gugok Garden. Hangang, who studied under both Toegye Lee Hwang (1501–1570) and Nammyeong, managed Muheul-Gugok. Other than him, it was known that no one, including Nammyeong, or any of the disciples referred to as the Nammyeong School, managed Gugok. However, it has been found that Boosa Seong Yeo-sin (1546–1632), who was Nammyeong’s disciple in Nammyeong’s later days, managed Gugok named Geumcheon-Gugok in Jinju where he settled down, unlike Nammyeong’s other disciples. The following questions are in the background to our study of Geumcheon-Gugok: why did Boosa manage Gugok when no one else in his school had managed one, and what was the reality of that Gugok? While Boosa was living in Geumsan, Jinju, Gyeongsangnam-do, he experienced conflict and frustration in the process of social chaos, including party strife and the Imjin War (Japanese invasion), the Jeongmyo War (First Manchu Invasion), and the Injo Restoration. He worked to restore his hometown village, which was devastated by the Japanese invasions, based on Hyangyak (village codes), and the proprieties taught by Nammyeong, and also took the lead in fostering the younger generation.

Some of the previous studies on Geumcheon-Gugok have focused on the value of Korean literature and the discovery of new Gugok (Kim, 2014), while others have introduced Geumcheon-Gugok from the perspective of utopia (Sa, 2016). These studies dealt with the contents of Geumcheon-Gugok, and estimated and described the location of each Gok (area around a bend of rivers or streams). Therefore, as a follow-up study, there is a need to supplement research on traditional landscape aspects through an analysis of diverse and in-depth data. In this study, we first aimed to determine the driving forces behind the management of Geumcheon-Gugok in contrast to other Gugok Gardens; and second, we sought to examine the landscape composition and characteristics of each Gok based on an analysis of old maps and data from the literature.

Research Methods

Research scope

Geumcheon-Gugok is located along the Namgang River in Geumsan-myeon, Jinju-si, Gyeongsangnam-do. Geumcheon in Geumcheon-Gugok refers to what is now the Namgang River, so in this study, the original name Geumcheon was used. The spatial scope includes Namsan-dong (now Namseong Village) where Boosa lived and the surrounding pavilions, centered around Geumcheon-Gugok (Fig. 1). The temporal scope was centered on the early 1600s when Boosa established Geumcheon-Gugok, and also included the period of landscape changes in the Gugok Garden as it is today.

Fig. 1

Location of the study site (

Research methods

The research was conducted through a combination of a literature analysis and field surveys. The motive of establishment and landscape elements of Geumcheon-Gugok were determined through old maps and literature survey, and the circumstances in which the original landscape changed were compared and examined through field surveys and interviews.

First, our literature survey focused on analyzing the Boosa Anthology, which was a translation of Busajip into modern Korean that contains the writings of Boosa who managed Geumcheon-Gugok. As the collection of works includes Gugoksi and Gugoksi-Byeongseo written by Boosa after setting Geumcheon-Gugok, as well as Geumsan-Dongyak and the records of pavilions, it was used as a basis for interpreting the landscape of Geumcheon-Gugok ( Second, in the process of estimating the location of each Gok in Geumcheon-Gugok, 18th-century Joseon Dynasty maps (, terrain maps during the Japanese colonial period (;, and current topographic maps (; were used. Third, field surveys were conducted a total of four times (Feb. 12, 2011; Apr. 12, 2014; Nov. 14, 2022; and May 16, 2023). Over a period of 10 years, the changes in and status of the landscape of Geumcheon-Gugok were recorded through drawings and photography. Based on these, the landscape composition and characteristics of each Gok were determined. Moreover, historical-landscape relics including related pavilions and seowons (Confucian academies) distributed around the Gugok were investigated and reflected in the study, and the research was supplemented through interviews with descendants of Changnyeong Seong clan and village residents.

Results and Discussion

Background of Geumcheon-Gugok Management

Origin and acceptance of Gugok

Neo-Confucianism, which was introduced to Korea at the end of the Goryeo Dynasty, brought about great ideological changes, and in particular had a substantial influence on society during the Joseon Dynasty, when Confucianism was made a national policy. Zhuzi (Zhu Xi; 1130–1200) of the Southern Song Dynasty in China, who compiled Neo-Confucianism within Confucian thought and life, could not help but become an object of respect. Respect for him did not stop at reverence for his ideas, but also led to interest in his works and life. One of things on which this interest had been focused was Mui-Gugok.

Zhuzi lived in seclusion around Mt. Mui and managed Mui-Gugok. In 1183, he built the pavilion Mui- in Gok 5 of Mui-Gugok. At this pavilion, he focused on preaching and writing, and his writings during this time were compiled in Mui-Jeongsa-Japyeong. In 1184, he wrote the origin of Gugok, Mui-Gugok-Doga, which explained the step-by-step process of studying ethics through a description of the areas around nine Goks (Gugok) of Mt. Mui. To Zhuzi, the natural scenery around Mt. Mui had great significance as a space for discovering and studying the Neo-Confucian order. His poetry and prose became the basis for Mui-Gugok-Do (paintings depicting Mui-Gugok), a literary and artistic tradition that was gradually introduced into Korea (Kim et al., 2023).

The Gugok culture, which originated in China, was not actively managed after Zhuzi and declined. However, in Korea, many Gugok Gardens were managed due to the formation of the Neo-Confucian worldview and the popularity of Zhuzi’s doctrines during the Joseon Dynasty. Gugok Gardens were established as a type of traditional landscape culture representing the late Joseon Dynasty. Most of the places where these Gugok Gardens are located have long been known as scenic spots. Including Toegye Yi Hwang and Yulgok Yi I (1536–1584), who were called great scholars, later literati with roots in their schools, managed Gugok Gardens in more than 100 locations across the country until the end of the Joseon Dynasty. However, most of them were private Gugok Gardens with a focus on the scenic beauty of the places. In contrast, Boosa was found to have managed Geumcheon-Gugok in a unique way, using public-oriented Hyangyak as the basic framework. This is noteworthy as having a value that differentiates it from other Gugok Gardens.

Natural landscape system of Geumcheon-Gugok

Two streams of water originating from Mt. Deogyusan merge in Anui to form Dongcheon, and flow south to merge with Imcheon and reach Hamyang to form Namgye. The downstream merges with the water flowing from the north of Mt. Jirisan to become Eomcheon, passes through Utan in Sancheong, reaches Danseong, merges with Simcheon, becomes Dankyecheon, and then becomes Yangcheon, which flows into Jinju.

It is called Cheongcheon to the west of Jinju, and Namgang River (Geumcheon) to the south. This Namgang River flows around Mt. Worasan in Geumsan-myeon, passes through Jeongamjin in Uiryeong, and Pungtan in Haman before flowing into the Nakdong River. The mountain range that defines this stream extends from Mt. Deogyusan above to Mt. Gamaksan in Uiryeong, and below from Mt. Jirisan to Mt. Bunsan and Mt. Shineosan in Gimhae.

The Namgang River winds around Geumsan-myeon at the foot of Mt. Worasan, starting from Hwangnyu-tan (Hwangryu-yeon), Gok 2 of Geumcheon-Gugok, and extending for about 30 ri (approx. 11.78 km) to Gabang-ri, Gwangae-ri, and Namseong-ri in the north and to Jumtan to the south. This appears to protect each direction while relying on Mt. Worasan, which “stands tall in the east and looks like a conch shell amidst white clouds” (Jo, S.). The villages that dot the banks of the Nam River overlook Mt. Worasan nearby and three mountains (Bangjangsan, Jiphyeonsan, and Waryongsan) in the distance. The villages around Geumcheon-Gugok extend for about 30 ri (11.78 km) from the south, and include Soksa, Songbaek, Jungcheon, Deokpyeong, Seokgyo, Namseong, Gidong, Gabang-ri, and Ansimbang.

Motive of Geumcheon-Gugok management

Promotion of post-war scholarship

Boosa Seong Yeo-sin, who managed Geumcheon-Gugok, was a disciple of Nammyeong Cho Sik and made a name for himself from a young age for his scholarship and writing. Never holding a government position, he stayed in his hometown and worked to improve local customs. At the age of 47 (1592), he fled his hometown during the Japanese invasion (Imjin War). When there was another Japanese invasion (Jeongyu War) in 1597, he stayed in Geumneung, returning to his hometown of Geumsan, Jinju at the age of 54 (1599).

Boosa, who returned to Geumsan, settled in Namseong Village near Geumcheon. As a disciple of Nammyeong, he participated in the reconstruction of Deokcheon-Seowon (Confucian Academy) and took the lead in restoring the customs that had been destroyed by the Japanese invasions based on the proprieties established by Nammyeong. During this period, he gave up his aspirations of administering affairs of state as a bureaucrat, pursuing a life of seclusion in nature.

As Boosa was concerned about the significant change in customs and decline in learning after the Imjin War and the Jeongyu War, he worked hard to educate younger students. He built Boosa-jeongsa Pavilion (now Busajeong; Fig. 2a) and Bangujeong Pavilion (Fig. 2b) on a site near his house in 1600 (Figs. 3, 4, and 5). This has the same meaning as Zhuzi’s establishment of Mui-Jeongsa in Gok 5 of Mui-Gugok; Boosa established pavilions in Gok 7 of Geumcheon-Gugok and used them as a base for academic research. In the Memoirs of Busajip, he said, “develop norms for cultivating talented people, build libraries such as Yangmong and Jihak, teach them in order, and encourage them to advance based on their talents...” His thoughts led to practical actions that promoted learning by creating libraries including Yangmongjae (Fig. 2e) and Jihakjae (Fig. 2f) Pavilions along with Boosa-Jeongsa Pavilion in Geumcheon-Gugok.

Fig. 2

Pavilions around the Geumcheon-Gugok.

Fig. 3

Geumcheon-Gugok on the Map in 1911 (

Fig. 4

Geumcheon-Gugok on the Map in 1970 (

Fig. 5

Geumcheon-Gugok on the 3D Map in 2023 (

Afterwards, the Busajeong area was used as a place for scholars around Jinju to socialize and study, but after a fire in 1785, only Busajeong Pavilion remained. What is now Busajeong Pavilion, renovated in 1903, is a tile-roofed timber house: a hipped-and-gable roof with double eaves, and 4 rooms on the front and 2 rooms on the sides. Starting with Bangujeong in 1995, Yangmongjae and Jihakjae were sequentially restored, and in 2003, the wall and stonework were restored to its current appearance (Fig. 2c).

For 10 years starting in 1622, Boosa led the first compilation of Jinyangji, the local geography of Jinju, together with Ha Jing, Jo Gyeom, and Park Min. He died in 1632 in Busajeong at the age of 87, and after his death, was enshrined in Imcheon-Seowon (Figs. 2g, 7a, 7c) near Geumcheon-Gugok in Jinju, and Mulgye-Seowon in Changnyeong.

Fig. 7

Geumcheon-Gugok on the old map of the Joseon Dynasty (part of the map,

Aspiration for a communal utopia

In Gugoksi-Byeongseo of Busajip, written at the age of 71 (1616), Boosa compared China’s Mt. Mui (Mt. Wuyi) with Korea’s Mt. Bangjangsan (Mt. Duryusan; Mt. Jirisan) and stated that the landscape of Geumcheon-Gugok could compare favorably with the mountain. He also matched Cheongcheon (Qingchuan) Stream on Mt. Mui with Geumcheon Stream in Jinju, and compared their outstanding scenery. Boosa said, “The source of Geumcheon originates from Mt. Duryu, flows down in a winding path to become Cheongcheon, flows down to become Namgang, and flows down again to finally become Geumcheon. In that case, the nine Goks (Gugok) of Geumcheon are indeed derived from all the valleys of Mt. Duryu, so how can they fall short in comparison with those formed by a thousand layers of water flowing down from Mt. Mui? Now, I have already named the place Gugoksu, recited its purpose in Gugoksi poems, and written it in the lower part of our Dongyak (village code).”

Moreover, at the end of Gugoksi-Byeongseo, he expresses his utopia as follows. “Our village people observe the village code, practice beautiful customs together, relax in the scenic area (around Geumcheon-Gugok), admire outstanding historical sites, and naturally enjoy the ancient world in a peaceful and calm manner... While I do and will do these things in the morning and evening, in spring and fall, and this year and in the next year, I will wander about and enjoy this area until the end of my life, not even realizing that my life is coming to an end. Is there anything better than this joy between heaven and earth?”

As such, in Boosa’s writings, we get a sense of his will to set up and manage Geumcheon-Gugok to soothe the hearts of the people in the devastated village after the wars and create an ideal place for community life. It further served as an opportunity to prepare the Geumsan-Dongyak, a practical village code, which is clearly revealed in the following writing in Geumsan-Dongyak Byeongseo of Busajip.

He wrote, “The reason why Geumsan was merged with Daeyeochon to form one village was because after the war, nine out of ten houses were empty. These two villages were connected to each other with a bend of Mt. Worasan as their border, similar to the situation in which the Teng Dynasty was located between the Qi and Chu Dynasties. Therefore, they were merged into one and named “Geumsan”...It was said that the customs of our village were beautiful in the old days, as keeping good customs in the village was considered beautiful. How can a person’s nature, which was beautiful in the past, not be beautiful now?... First, it was based on the provisions of Lushi Village Codes, and then it was imitating the regulations of Toegye-Dongyak. Then, we seek to restore the customs of remote antiquity that were passed down to our village based on it...” Boosa established the Geumsan-Dongyak centered on Mt. Worasan and villages around Geumcheon-Gugok, and based on this, dreamed of a new and ideal community village led by the villagers.

Geumcheon-Gugok composition and landscape interpretation

Boosa Seong Yeo-sin established nine Goks (Gugok) along the Geumcheon Stream by matching the scenery of Geumcheon-Gugok to that of Zhuzi’s Mui-Gugok. He recited the inspiration felt in each Gok as Gugoksi poems and explained the scenery with annotation. Geumcheon-Gugok consists of Gok 1 Bonghakdae, Gok 2 Hwangryuyeon, Gok 3 Eopungjeong, Gok 4 Waunloe, Gok 5 Jeokbyeokman, Gok 6 Songgangjin, Gok 7 Banguju, Gok 8 Limgangjeong, and Gok 9 Gyeongsimdam. Mui-Gugok, run by Zhuzi, does not have exact names for each Gok, but Geumcheon-Gugok had a name for each Gok. Moreover, as these names include geographical suffixes (back placename morpheme) including dae (platform), Jeong (pavilion), yeon (pond), roe (rapids), man (bay), jin (ferry), ju (islet), and dam (deep pond) (Lim and So, 2016), it can be seen that various waterscape elements of the traditional Korean landscape make up the landscape of Geumcheon-Gugok.

The location of each Gok estimated through research is shown in Figs. 3, 4, and 5. The current landscape of each Gok has had its original landscape damaged due to topographical changes and urbanization over a long period of time (Fig. 6).

Fig. 6

Current State of Each Gok on Geumcheon-gugok.

The total stream distance of Geumcheon-Gugok is 14 km. This is shorter than the 31.1 km of Muheul-Gugok, the longest of the 93 Gugok Gardens in Korea, but longer than the average distance of 6.24 km (Rho and Choi, 2021). The distance between each Gok in Geumcheon-Gugok is irregular, ranging from about 0.5–3.5 km.

In addition, Geumcheon-Gugok has the characteristic of the location of each Gok being set in a top-down order from upstream to downstream. Considering that of 93 Gugok Gardens in Korea, there are only 11 (11.8%), including Igye-Gugok in Seoul, which were established in a descending order along mountain streams (Rho and Choi, 2021), this shows a clear difference from general Gugok Gardens.

Gok 1 Bonghakdae

Bonghakdae is located to the south of Baekdong. There is a large field to the west, and a long forest to the south. Two rivers flow into this with streams of blue water, and three mountains rise from the green forests. High and green cliffs surround it on both sides, and hundreds of green pine trees (Pinus Densiflora) throw shadows on the front and back. As the Bonghwangdae and Hwanghakru Pavilions create a harmonious scenery with each other, it was named Bonghakdae.” (Gugoksi-Byeongseo)

Baekdong refers to what is now Songbaek-ri, Geumsanmyeon, and is located across from Jinju Stadium. The two rivers represent the landscape where the Namgang and Yeongcheon rivers merge. The three mountains may be seen as a symbolic representation of the legendary Mt. Samshinsan, and can also be interpreted as referring to Jirisan (or Bangjangsan), Jiphyeonsan, and Waryongsan, which are famous local mountains that can be seen when you climb up Bonghakdae. Bonghakdae still maintains its original landscape, with high cliffs made up of layers of sedimentary rocks. At that time, it appears that Pinus Densiflora were the dominant species in Bonghakdae, but today the vegetation in the landscape is dominated by Quercus species (Fig. 6-①).

Gok 2 Hwangryuyeon

Hwangryuyeon is located on the north side of Bonghakdae. Its deep parts must be crossed by boat, while its shallow parts can be crossed on foot.” (Gugoksi-Byeongseo)

It is located 1.2km downstream of Geumcheon from Bonghakdae, Gok 1. It is indicated as Hwangryujin Ferry on old maps from the Joseon Dynasty, indicating that there was a ferry site here (Figs. 7a, 7c). “Yeon” refers to a deep and concave pond formed at the point where a river curves around. Greenhouse facilities have been built on the sands which they used to moor boats alongside, but a small cliff remains where Geumcheon flows around, allowing us to guess what the old scenery might have looked like (Fig. 6-②).

Gok 3 Eopungjeong

Eopungjeong is on the west side of Suanjeong Pavilion. Lofty rocks overlooks a long dragon’s den, with very tall pine trees on top of them. There used to be a pavilion, but now there isn’t one. It is a popular scenic area in this region, so there are often many people hanging here out or having small social gatherings with a drink. It is difficult to look down from Eopungjeong because the height is dizzying.” (Gugoksi-Byeongseo)

Suanjeong was Jeong Eun-bu’s annex garden, located on Changam in Geumsan Village, Jinju ( Considering that the name of this Gok is Eopungjeong, it seems that there was originally a pavilion here. Although it is not higher than Bonghakdae, Gok 1, it is a beautiful cliff formed along the Geumcheon Stream, with an excellent view. It appears that this place was known as a local scenic spot visited by many people. The pine trees of that time can no longer be found, and the current vegetation mainly consists of broad-leaved forests (Fig. 6-③).

Gok 4 Waunloe

Waunloe is located about 10 ri (approx. 3.93 km) across the Jangdam area, west of Bukpyeong. There is a very large flat and lush area at the edge of the rapids, where the villagers perform the Sugye Ritual in both spring and fall.” (Gugoksi-Byeongseo)

Waun means a hermit life of hiding away from the world. Since Jangdam means a long-shaped pond, it seems to refer to Geumhoji Pond in what is now Geumsanmyeon. Geumhoji is also marked on topographic maps from the Japanese colonial period (Fig. 3). In the Waunloe area, urbanization has progressed significantly, making it difficult to find its traces (Fig. 6-④). However, since the locations of Gok 3 and Gok 5 are exact, Waunloe, Gok 4, should be located in between them, with Geumhoji to the east and Geumcheon to the west. Accordingly, it can be said that Waunloe refers to the mountain stream located between Geumhoji in the east of Eopungjeong (Gok 3) and Geumcheon in the west. “Loe” a landscape element of streams, refers to a shallow and fast current flowing over sand and stones (Lim and So, 2016).

Sugye Ritual is a custom of preventing ominous disasters by hanging out and rambling by the water, and is closely related to a ritual practiced by Wang Xizhi in Lanting Pavilion during the Jin Dynasty. Boosa may have imagined Wang, who had enjoyed the arts in nature, in the Waunloe, Gok 4.

Gok 5 Jeokbyeokman

“Someone said, ‘Wugu (O-gok in Korean) is to the east. It is said that long ago, Chibi (Jeokbyeok in Korean; Red Cliffs) was in the Kingdom of Wu (O in Korean), so this name was derived from the Chinese character, Wu.’ I don’t know if this is true or not. It was named Jeokbyeok because it is surrounded by red cliffs to the east. There are ponds below and above Jeokbyeok. When the water rises in spring in the passage where fish travel between the two ponds, fishermen gather there with their nets.” (Gugoksi-Byeongseo)

Chibi is located on the Yangtze River in China was where Zhou Yu defeated Cao Cao’s army during the Three Kingdoms period. Moreover, there is a famous anecdote about Su Shi, a literatus during the Song Dynasty, enjoying boating on the Chibi river. Boosa described the scenery of Gok 5 as outstanding, saying that it reminded him of Chibi (Jeokbyeok), which had been said to be one of China’s greatest historical-landscapes. Even now, the red cliffs made of sedimentary rock are not high, but extend long, in the shape of a man (Fig. 6-⑤). “Man (bay)” refers to an area where water curves toward the land like a bow. At that time, the water from Geumcheon Stream must have flowed in and out, forming a pond under the red cliffs, but now it is difficult to find traces of it due to the construction of embankment.

Gok 6 Songgangjin

“Since it is located below the Songgang Hill, it was named Song, and also called Yongdang. In the past, my friend Ha Jasang built a house and lived there, but it no longer exists. In the past, Fulizi lived in seclusion in the Song River (Songgang River in Korean), so the term Ghangho-Sanin (those who live a secluded life in the countryside) was coined. There are ships at the ferry.” (Gugoksi-Byeongseo)

Lu Guimeng (?-881) from Suzhou during the Tang Dynasty lived free from worldly cares in seclusion in Fuli Village on the Song River. Therefore, Boosa called himself Ghangho-Sanin and considered Songgangjin, which had the same name as the place where Lu lived, as a place for hermits.

Songgangjin is a ferry site, but its location is the most ambiguous of the Geumcheon-Gugok (Nine Goks in Geumchoen). Place names of Songgang or Yongdang do not appear in literature or old maps. However, by checking Haedong-jido and Bibyeonsa-in-bangan-jido, which are old maps of the Joseon Dynasty, only one place marked as a waterway (ferry site) is found in the Geumcheon-Gugok area (Figs. 7b, 7c). This waterway is clearly marked on the topographical map of 1911, and the place name is written next to it as “Namsong” (Fig. 3). Its location is estimated to be about 0.5 km downstream from Jeokbyeokman, Gok 5. However, since the distance between Gok 5 and Gok 7 is approximately 3.5km, and there may have been other ferries, the exact location of Gok 6 cannot be determined. Currently, Geumsangyo Bridge has been built near Gok 4, and the old ferry site has disappeared without a trace (Fig. 6-⑥).

Gok 7 Banguju

“Banguju lies east of Busajeong Pavilion. In the summer of 1597, I took refuge in Geumneung, but returned to my hometown in the spring of 1600, and I escaped the summer heat here. So I named this place Bangu.” (Gugoksi-Byeongseo)

In Bangujeonggi of Busajip, he said, “It is located 1 ri (approx. 392.7 m) upstream of Imgangjeong. It is densely covered with several beautiful trees. As the scenery above the river was excellent in silence, I settled there and named it Bangu.” The literal translation of “Bangu” is to be friends with gulls, and like gulls, it means living in and enjoying nature beyond the interests of the secular society. As this is considered to be in line with the life of seclusion in nature the Confucian scholars of the Joseon Dynasty sought to pursue, there are many pavilions called “Bangujeong” throughout Korea. Boosa also expressed his intent to build Bangujeong near Gok 7, by quoting a poem by Huang Tingjian (a literatus from the Song Dynasty): “The water in the fields of Jiangnan is bluer than the sky, and gulls in the middle are as leisurely as me.” In Gugoksi poem, he also said, “I realize that 7 Gok are the places where I will go into retirement.”

In the name of Gok 7, Banguju, the suffix “ju” refers to a islet made of sand at the edge or in the middle of a river, indicating that the name Bangujeong reflects the natural scenery. Boosa describes the scenery of Banguju this way in Bangujeonggi: “One day, my steps reached the edge of a bamboo forest on the eastern lake. The trees cast a deep shade, the shining waves were rolling dazzlingly, and green willows were thick on the three white islets made of sandbanks. As I wandered around with my hat pulled back, it felt like my body had entered a painting. It was truly a place worth wandering around and appreciating.”

The location of Gok 7 is estimated to be along Geumcheon Stream, north of Namseong Village, where Bangujeong and Busajeong are located. Sandbanks are still formed today, allowing us to guess what the landscape might have been at the time. (Fig. 6-⑦).

Gok 8 Imgangjeong

“It lies east of Eupbyeokdang Pavilion. The stream that flows from under the pavilion straight to the front of Balbong has been called Yeonwoogye since ancient times. Looking at it now, the green mountain exposes its ridges, the blue water flows heavily, and the strange shapes are exquisite in the hazy fog, just like the shape of the thick ink in paintings. Therefore, I named it Imgangjeong.” (Gugoksi-Byeongseo)

Imgangjeong is a pavilion located in Baeng-ri, Geumsan-myeon, Jinju-si. Jinyangji compiled by Boosa says, “It is adjacent to the Nam River and faces Mt. Worasan, so every year when the good time comes, the local people hang out over a drink here.”

Boosa’s mentor, Nammyeong, describes the outstanding scenery around Imgangjeong in Yeongmodanggi of Nammyeongjip, “The place where water from ten thousand valleys of Mt. Duryusan (Mt. Jirisan) flows in and meanders to become Cheongcheon is where Chokseokru Pavilion in Jinju is located. Then, the water flows to the southeast, swallowing and spitting out wide fields, and runs down a distance of several tens of ri to Gabang-ri Village. At the entrance to the village, the dark blue water spreads out like a mirror, and the green mountain appears to reveal its ridges. A magnificent house towered on top of it, with a tablet called Eupbeok hung there.”

Imgangjeong Pavilion has been destroyed, and its location cannot be determined at present. However, since according to Bangujeonggi, Imgangjeong is located 1 ri (approx. 392.7 m) downstream from Bangujeong, the location can be roughly estimated. In the area along Geumcheon Stream, northeast of Namseong Village where Bangujeong is located, the streambed changes when the stream water rises. If the pavilion had been built here, it would have been located on a hill adjacent to the stream. Therefore, it is estimated to have been on a hill of the northeast slope, about 0.4 km away from Bangujeong (Fig. 6-⑧).

Gok 9 Gyeongsimdam

“There is Daedun-dong Village to the north of Mt. Worasan, with Gyeongsimdam at the entrance of the village. There are cliffs on the left and right of Gyeongsimdam. The left-side cliff is called Hakseoam, and the right side one is called Gyeongsinam. When you get here, you find the mountain even greener and the water even greener. As the mountain and water color each other, there are no other colors, with green willows and white sand reflected over the water, and no other objects can be seen. I tried to build a pavilion consisting of a few rooms on top of Hakseoam, but it was not possible.” (Gugoksi-Byeongseo)

“Dam” is a type of landscape that refers to a specific point in a meandering stream where the flow speed is slow and forms a calm, wide, and deep pond. (Lim and So, 2016). Gyeongsimdam, which is located at the furthest point downstream of Geumcheon-Gugok, is a scenic spot with a lake-like stream and strangely shaped cliffs. Gyeongsimdam and the two rock cliffs on its left and right, Hakseoam and Gyeongsinam, still remain, their original forms intact (Fig. 6-⑨).

The area around the Gok 9, Gyeongsimdam, has such beautiful scenery that Boosa sought to build another pavilion. In his Gugoksi Poem, he recited, “The more I visit Gugok, the more beautiful the scenery becomes. In comparison to Mui-Gugok, I ask which one is better.” Although he managed Geumcheon-Gugok by imitating Mui-Gugok of Zhuzi, he was proud that the scenery could actually be better than that of Mui-Gugok. In the nine Goks (Gugok) of Geumcheon-Gugok, Boosa may have been thinking of the utopia where immortals live, hanging out with villagers every season, which he aimed for.

Significance of Geumcheon-Gugok management

In the Hyeongseungjo of Shinjeung-Donggukyeoji-Seungram, the revised and expanded edition of the survey of the geography of Joseon Dynasty, the superb scenery of Jinju is described as follows. “The spectacular scenery of Jinyang (Jinju)’s downtown and mountains is the best in Yeongnam” and “Jinyang is the valuable land and sea of the East. Half of the Yeongnam region pays taxes to the country every year with marine and local products ... The edge of Mt. Bibongsan (Jinju’s Mt. Jinsan) is in the north, and that of Mangjinsan (Jinju’s Mt. Ansan) is in the south. Long rivers (Namgang and Geumcheon) flow between them, and several mountains to the east and west surround the region in all directions.” In addition, Chokseokluji contains the top 10 scenic spots of Jinju. Scenic Spot 1 is Asan Myeongwol (Yeongnam Literature Society, 1961), indicating that Mt. Worasan, located in the center of Geumcheon-Gugok, is a local landmark. This seems to be because in Jinju, the mountains including Jirisan, Jiphyeonsan, and Waryongsan are considered distant scenic views, but Mt. Worasan is the only one that stands out in the near vicinity.

In the area along the Namgang River, low mountains appear on both sides along the river, but there is no outstanding scenery that varies with the seasons, except for the wide sand fields along the riverside. Notably, from anywhere on the west, south, and north of Mt. Worasan, you can view rivers and sand hills nearby with the mountain behind them, as well as the mountains Jirisan, Jiphyeonsan, and Waryongsan in the distance. These topographical characteristics allowed the villages to have sufficient conditions to secure agricultural land and become established.

According to Jinyanggunsa, many pavilions were scattered around Geumcheon-Gugok (Jinyang-gun History Compilation Committee, 1991). In addition to Bonghakdae, Eopungjeong, Busajeong, Bangujeong, and Imgangjeong, the pavilions built in each Gok of Geumcheon-Gugok include: Imyeondae and Songjeong around Gok 1; Yukinjeong around Gok 2; Suanjeong, Hyeongrimjeong, Dongjeong, and Nakmodae, around Goks 3 and 4; Songgangjeongsa and Gwaneojeong around Gok 6; Eupbyeokdang, Yeongmodang, and Pabyeokjeong around Gok 8; and Myeonghongjeong and Jowoldae in Songgok-ri, opposite Geumcheon in Gok 8. The reason why so many pavilions were built in the region was because the scenery of the Geumcheon-Gugok area, where Geumcheon and Mt. Worasan are in harmony, was ideal for annex and pavilion gardens.

Considering that most of Korea’s Gugok Gardens were established by preferentially selecting areas with distinguishing characteristics and outstanding natural scenery, Geumcheon-Gugok may not in fact be regarded to have a comparative advantage in terms of landscape. Moreover, villages were located behind each Gok of Geumcheon-Gugok. Characteristically, the area was comprised of most villages where people with different surnames (mainly two or three surnames) lived together, excluding very few villages where only people with a single surname live. Although it is on the riverside, it should also have public functions such as a ferry and roads shared by the villages, so it could not be owned and freely managed by an individual or family manor like other Gugok Gardens. For this reason, it seems that he developed village codes and used them as a means of operating and managing Geumcheon-Gugok.

Boosa may also have felt that it was urgent to establish village codes to correct the disorder in customs after two wars and people’s ethics necessary for living together. In Gok 7 Banguju, he said, “With five or six young people, we did not rest anywhere else to escape the heat, hang out anywhere else while reciting poems and whistling over a drink, or take baths or swim anywhere else. As we enjoyed these things here today and there tomorrow, neither did we know the day was drawing to a close, nor realize that a month and a half had passed.” (Bangujeonggi) In Gok 9 Gyeongsimdam, he also said, “I was happy because people’s dwellings were far away, with the air of an immortal. Every spring and autumn, we took adults and children with us in a small boat and went back and forth constantly by rowing with short and light oars while catching fish or gathering firewood.”(Gugoksi-byeongseo) This suggests that he emphasized helping the villagers, especially young people, help each other and live in harmony.

Boosa wrote the three letters Jik, Bang, and Dae in large characters on the wall of the north window and interpreted them as follows in Samjahae of Busajip: “If you aren’t right-hearted, you become wicked; if you don’t work fairly, you allow works to be distorted; and if you don’t have magnanimity, you become narrow-minded. Men of virtue (Gunja) do nothing that allows themselves to become wicked and narrow-minded, or to distort works. Gong (being respectful) to be right-hearted depends on Ghyeong (being earnest); Gong to be fair depends on Eui (being righteous) and Gong to be generous depends on Seong (being sincere).” In addition, “Seong can never become Seong without Ghyeong, and only after being right-hearted based on Ghyeong and having fair attitudes with Eui can you reach Seong. Shindok (even when you are alone, you behave fairly, and are discreet in word and deed so as not to deviate from human duty) refers to studies so that you can be right-hearted, whereas Hyeolgu (understanding the situation of others by considering your own situation) refers to human duty that enables you to have fair attitudes. Those who learn the eight letters will not let themselves be in extremes and at a standstill even if they practice them until they die: which means becoming right-hearted with Gyeong, and having fair attitudes with Eui,” he said in Chimsang-Danpyeon of Busajip. Boosa’s thoughts on Gyeong-Eui (being earnest and righteous) were greatly affected by those of his mentor, Nammyeong. Nammyeong recognized that “human duties” had already been found by sages, so “putting them into practice” was more urgent than “delving into the principles of such things.” Therefore, by accepting Zhuzi’s idea that it is essential for Gheo-Gyeong (always being right-minded, having fair attitudes, and cultivating virtue) to be accompanied by Haeng-Gyeong (practicing righteous conduct) in order to become Whal-Gyeong (judging what is right and wrong, and not doing it if it is wrong) through practice, he took “Gyeong-Eui” as his core idea.

Based on these thoughts, Boosa established the Geumsan-Dongyak for people to help each other and live in harmony within the framework of Geumcheon-Gugok (Fig. 8) and created spaces for the education of future generations (Busajeongsa, Yangmongjae, and Jihakjae Pavilions).

Fig. 8

Picture of Geumcheon-Gugok (2023, Author Production).


This study aimed to determine the management motivation of Geumcheon-Gugok, Jinju-si, Gyeongsangnam-do, which is differentiated from other Gugok gardens, and examine what characteristics and meaning it has in terms of the landscape. The findings are summarized as follows.

First, Boosa Seong Yeo-sin set a total of nine Goks along the Geumcheon Stream by matching the scenery of Geumcheon-Gugok with Zhuzi’s Mui-Gugok. Boosa recited the inspiration felt in each Gok as Gugoksi poems, which reveal the various waterscape elements that make up the traditional landscape in the scenery of Geumcheon-Gugok.

Second, the total stream distance of Geumcheon-Gugok reaches 14 km, making it one of the longest of the Gugok Gardens in Korea. The distance between each Gok in Geumcheon-Gugok is irregular, ranging from about 0.5–3.5 km, and the nine Goks were set in a top-down order according to the flow of the mountain streams. The original landscape of each Gok in Geumcheon-Gugok has been damaged over time and by urbanization, which makes it difficult for us to determine the exact location of some Goks.

Third, by establishing and managing Geumcheon-Gugok, Boosa sought to soothe the hearts of the people in the village that was devastated after the wars, and create an ideal place for life. He built Busajeongsa and Bangujeong in Gok 7 of Geumcheon-Gugok and made them a base for academic research, and also created libraries including Yangmongjae and Jihakjae Pavilions to promote the academic achievements of future generations.

Fourth, during the Joseon Dynasty, many Gugok Gardens were managed due to the formation of a Neo-Confucian world-view and the influence of Zhuzi’s doctrines, which were established as a type of traditional landscape culture representing the late Joseon Dynasty. Beginning with Toegye Yi Hwang’s Dosan-Sibigok and Yulgok Yi-I’s Gosan-gugok, more than a hundred Gugok Gardens were managed throughout the country until the end of the Joseon Dynasty, most of which were private Gugok Gardens focused on the scenic beauty of such places. Boosa’s Geumcheon-Gugok has great significance in that it had been uniquely managed based on the public Hyangak (village codes).

Fifth, it is noteworthy that while most of the managers of Gugok Gardens during the Joseon Dynasty were literati from the Toegye and Yulgok schools, Boosa was the only one in the Nammyeong school to manage a Gugok Garden. Of course, Hangang Jeong Gu, who straddles both Toegye and Nammyeong schools, also managed a Gugok Garden, but if we recall that most of his disciples have their academic origins in Toegye school, it can be said that Geumcheon-Gugok is the only one run by a scholar of the orthodox Nammyeong school.

Sixth, one of the motives for the management of Gugok Gardens by Confucian scholars during the Joseon Dynasty may have been their respect of Zhuzi and imitation of his Mui-Gugok. However, Gugok Gardens may have been managed as a practical method of securing rural areas for individuals (clans), that is, creating a manor, superficially using the Neo-Confucian means of Gugok Gardens. This is because Gugok Gardens for Neo-Confucian scholars, the management of Gugok Gardens served as a foundation for solidifying family and kinship structures. Through the management of Gugok Gardens, they secured the surrounding area of the waterway, which ranges from about 10–100 ri (3.92–39.2 km), as private property. In the late Joseon Dynasty, when agricultural production, especially hydroponic rice farming, was established, securing areas along streams was a very important priority. Most of these places, where Gugok Gardens were located, had been previously known as scenic spots, or used as sites for Buddhist temples. From this perspective, Boosa is particularly comparable to other Gugok managers. He managed Gugok Gardens over 30 ri (11.78 km) along Geumcheon Stream, but there were many villages there composed of people with various surnames, making it difficult to create a manor for Boosa’s family or clan alone. Perhaps for this reason, in his later years, he developed the idea of coexistence, “helping each other and living in harmony.” As a way to put this idea into practice, he established Dongyak as an institutional device to create an ideal village, and managed Geumcheon-Gugok as a public framework to realize it. He also encouraged learning by installing libraries next to the pavilions in Geumcheon-Gugok as a practical method to cultivate future talents. This was a device that not only improved the quality of life of the villagers, but also continuously nurtured many Neo-Confucian resources (talents). Boosa’s practice like this is the outcome of the idea of coexistence for everyone, not just one family or clan. In today’s reality, where desolate urbanization has progressed throughout the country and individualism is rampant, Boosa’s actions remind us of the principles of life based on publicness and community values.

Geumcheon-Gugok is a very valuable landscape relic as the only Gugok Garden managed by a scholar from the orthodox Nammyeong School in Gyeongsang-woodo (the region on the right in Gyeongsang-do). However, since the original landscape elements have been destroyed or damaged by rapid urbanization, a proper management plan should be sought. It is expected that follow-up research will be conducted on the exact locations of Gok 4, 6, and 8, which could not be determined in this study due to limitations in the supporting data, through the discovery of additional literature data in the future.


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Fig. 2

Pavilions around the Geumcheon-Gugok.

Fig. 6

Current State of Each Gok on Geumcheon-gugok.

Fig. 8

Picture of Geumcheon-Gugok (2023, Author Production).