|Appointment to the Gangbuk-gu (District of Seoul)
Advisory Commission by its Mayor
Seoul, long one of the world's largest cities, is now an "independent metropolis" led by a super-mayor (equal rank with a
provincial governor), and each of its 22 Districts (with averaging just under half one million residents each) has its own Mayor
and City Hall. Some of them now have advisory commissions or consultant committees made up of prominent residents.
Gangbuk-gu [North-of-River District] is in the far northeast, the second district north of where I actually live and work. Mayor
Kim Hyeon-pung has been very active in trying to upgrade the infrastructure of his District in ways that will improve the welfare
of his citizens, and is markedly devoted to promoting Mt. Samgak-san (the most famous part of which is within his area, with
several great temples & shrines) as one of Korea's most important sacred mountains -- and that mutual interest is what led
him to make friends with me earlier last year, and then to appoint me to this honorary group. As its only international member...
All the other members of this newly-formed Advisory Commission are prominent VIPs resident in that district, such as
presidents of universities, CEOs of corporations, abbots of Buddhist temples, the Catholic bishop and leading church
ministers, a famous mountaineer and etc. I am thus not really qualified to be a member of this body together with them,
and am not even a resident of this district, but Mayor Kim wanted me to join -- with the special charge of bringing an
"international perspective" to their discussions and recommendations, especially focusing on tourism and promotion
of the sacred aspects of Samgak-san. Not being fluent enough in Korean, I need the translation help of the mayor's
friendly Special-Assistant Mr Cho.
|Receiving my Certificate of Appointment from Mayor Kim
|toasting together with rice-wine, at the banquet following the first meeting of the AC
|This is from the first time we met, January 2007 in Mayor Kim's office, together with
Canadian English professor Harvey Schmidt (my longtime friend and now a resident
of Gangbuk-gu, who introduced Mayor Kim to my work, leading him to contact me)
and Ms Lee, chief of Gangbuk's Tourism Office. In March we attended the Samgak-
san Sanshin-je Shamanic Ceremony together. Then in April, I was invited to give a
lecture on Korea's Mountain-spirit traditions to 200 officers of the City Hall. In June I
was a guest at the 2007 Samgak-san Mountain-Festival with a hiking-marathon race.
In July we hiked together up to Baekryeon-sa [White Lotus Temple] on Samgak-san
within the District, and here are shown bowing in its excellent Mountain-spirit Shrine.
|Mayor Kim's Solar New Year greeting-card, featuring Samgak-san's Insu-bong Peak