(92) Saju of Yi Seong-gye, founder of Joseon Kingdom
By Janet Shin
Korea has been called several different names in its history. Since Gojoseon, the first Korean kingdom (2333 B.C.-108 B.C.), there have been the Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla eras, which were representative names of the nation.
The current official name, Korea, came from the Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392), although North Korea uses the term Joseon, which was derived from the eponymous kingdom (1392-1910). The Japanese colonization of Korean in 1910 ended that era, however, and this year's centennial has left
the people thinking more about the concepts of independence, decency and self-reliance of the nation.
We will review some incidents that happened during the transition from the Goryeo to Joseon kingdoms by looking at the saju of Yi Seong-gye, the founder and first king of the latter.
If Buddhism was the established religion in Goryeo, Confucianism was the ruling principle in the Joseon era. As a result, people began to study and practice saju, and its academic grounds have solidified since then. Yi trusted saju more than most others and he relied on saju-telling when he made important decisions. The relocation of the capital from Gaeseong to Hanyang (today's Seoul) was one example in which he followed the directions given by saju and feng shui. The great Buddhist master Muhak provided answers to most of his questions and also interpreted his dreams. Muhak advised him that he had the saju of a king.
Then, they discovered that there was a man with the same saju as Yi's. The king was curious as to who the man was and what he did. But when they finally met him, they found that he was just an ordinary beekeeper. The man said to Yi, simply yet wisely, "You are ruling many people in the nation and I am raising many bees in hives." Even in the ancient days, there were many cases of people with the same saju, leading different lives.
Now going back to the life of Yi Seong-gye. There was an incident in 1388 called the "withdrawal of army troops in Wihwa Island," which was the turning point in Korean history that would end the Goryeo reign and begin that of Joseon.
Yi was an admired general in Goryeo when he decided to withdraw the army from Wihwa Island, located on the border between Goryeo and China, effectively ignoring the Goryeo king's command to attack the Chinese Ming dynasty.
This move is still highly contested with controversy. On the one hand, Yi's action laid the foundation for the Joseon period, which led to cultural and spiritual developments (though, obviously, Goryeo had already been crumbling due to the corruption of the country and religion). But on the other hand, it limited the power of Korea internationally, especially in its relationship with China.
Now you must be curious about Yi's saju, if Muhak had read and declared it a king's fate.
Yi was born with the energy of yin earth and the field represents the yin earth energy.
The month branch is also earth, and owing to the strength of earth, or self energy, we can assume how adamant of a person he was. This explains the fact that he was able to ignore even the king's command, if he thought he was making the right decision. His act was a result foretold by his water energy, and ultimately he pursued power (as seen by his career star).
Although he desired authority, there were entangled misfortunes among his sons in the time pillar.
He was lacking the metal energy in his expression star, which meant that whenever he did have enough, he was able to achieve great things.
In 1356, the year of fire and metal, he played a major role in leading the way to victory in a war with his father.
In 1380, the year of metal, he became a general and subjugated his enemies. In 1392, the year of water and metal, he ascended the throne as King Taejo in Joseon Kingdom.
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The writer is the president of the Heavenly Garden, a saju research center in Korea, and the author of "Learning Four Pillars." For more, visit her Web site at http://blog.naver.com/janet_shin