|Just two years ago, in the year 2000, the San-cheong County government arranged the carving of a new statue of the Jiri-san Cheon-hwang-bong Seong-mo-halmae San-shin, and enshrined it within view of the main parking lots and restaurants of the Beob-gye-sa ipgu area (just across the stream to the east). It is of the same style and posture as the original statue, albeit with a fatter face. Citizens are encouraged to bow and pray to it for their personal bok [good fortune] and for national reunification, peace and prosperity. When I discovered it in May 2001, a bus-load of middle-aged women from Busan City (3 hour distant) were there for a day of supplication. This is the first time I have ever seen such open government approval of and support for San-shin worship -- truly revolutionary in modern Korea, where officialdom is typically dominated by Christians.|
|A large bi-seok [inscribed stone monument] stands next to the statue, with a very interesting inscription in Korean (badly and partially translated into English at the bottom) written by Choson Ilbo [Korea Daily-newspaper] editor Li Kyu-tae:|
|"STATUE of the HOLY MOTHER
In the period of the Three Kingdoms our ancestors served this goddess, which connects the heavenly heart [cheon-shim] to the human heart [in-shim], by enshrining a statue similar to this one on the highest peak of this huge, lofty and celebrated mountain. Jiri-san is renown as one of the "Three Spiritual Mountains", and this statue of the goddess called the Holy Mother [seong-mo] or the Heaven-ruling Grandmother [cheon-hwang-halmoni] has blessed us with plenty of miracles.
Holy Mother, the primary goddess of our entire nation, with its statue handed down through many generations, has been worshiped in various ways and under various names as time has gone by, but has always fulfilled our people's wishes. It was once worshiped as Ma-go, the Chinese (Daoist) "Immortal" who was believed to offer eternal youth [bullo-jangsu] and all-going-well [mansa-hyeong-tong]. It also represents the same Holy Mother as Queen Wisuk, mother of the founder of the Goryeo Dynasty [Taejo Wang Geon], whose prayers were believed to have made the re-unification of the Later Three Kingdoms possible. Before King Taejo ascended to the throne, he defeated a gang of Japanese pirates that had penetrated deeply into Jiri Mountain. A long time after that, other Japanese pirates took revenge by cutting into the body of the Holy Mother. Because this Holy Mother was thought by her grace to control the clouds and mist, it was later granted an official government rank entitled "Defender of the Nation" [Ho-guk-baek].
|"The legends of Korean Shamanism say that this Holy Mother is the ancestor of all Korean folk-culture; she taught her 8 daughters the military arts and then sent them out to the Eight Provinces (of Korea), and thus she is believed to be a sacred image for praying to for the welfare of the people.
"During the Japanese annexation, this statue was considered as an anti-Japan goddess. In some case, it was abandoned down to a valley. It suffered, and was found to be covered all over with wounds and worn out. At the present time, it is designated as Kyeongsang-namdo Provincial Cultural Asset #14 and enshrined in Heavenly-King Temple [Cheon-hwang-sa] which sits at the base of a ridge running down from Heavenly-King Peak [Cheon-hwang-bong].
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|The new statue of the Jiri-san Seong-mo Halmae San-shin, installed under the auspices of
San-cheong County officials in Korean Year 4333 (2000 AD).