Did the Colonial Japanese drive Spikes
into Sacred Korean Mountains...?
-- an interesting controversy --
Looking west along the Baekdu-daegan Ridgeline from Jiri-san Cheonwang-bong
This is claimed to be a photo from the Colonial Era (1910-1945) of a Japanese Shinto priest
leading a ritual before driving metal spikes into the peak-grounds (crater rim) of
However, no hammer can be seen, and that forward pole might be a one-pillar altar, as sometimes
used in Shinto; there is no evidence that it is a spike, more research is needed.  This ceremony
might just be a ritual praying to the Baekdu-san San-shin, as this has been the supreme holy
mountain of this region (sacred to both Koreans and Manchurians) for the past two centuries, and
indeed they are praying across Cheonji Lake toward the Janggun-bong Summit.  Surely, one
must think that if they were driving a spike in to disrupt the
san-gi flow into Korea, they would drive
it into that farawy peak, or into its slope heading down south into Korea as the
They are, rather, on the Chinese side; driving a stake into the lakeshore here would have no effect
on any energy-flow at all, by any theory of Geomancy.
Beopgye-sa was of especial concern and effectiveness for Korea's protection from Japanese incursions,
according to the
Pungsu-jiri theories of National Master Doseon Guksa -- and so it would make
sense that Japanese invaders would destroy it in 1597, and imperialists damage it in the 1910-45 era.
If you wish to know my own opinion about this case -- whether the Japanese imperialists drove spikes
into Korea's key mountains in order to weaken their national spirit in the 1895-1945 era, it is:  

Ranging from the most physical/practical to the more theoretical, my seven reasons are:

1. There are no records from Japanese military or colonialists about doing this, and such a huge undertaking
would certainly have left records of plans, personnel and supplies. They probably would have had Koreans
do the hardest labor, like hauling bundles of iron spikes up the slopes, and those Koreans or other locals
would have reported about it after 1945; there are no such reports.

2. These spikes found and extracted were mostly with loops, hooks or screws on their tops, not plain flat heads
(see the screws on the ones pictured above) -- were probably from the Korean War, to anchor cables used to
pull supplies and even artillery up to ridgetops or peaks for defensive positions, or even after the war by the
South  Korean military preparing & practicing. The K-War historians should look into this...  One might
easily think of an even less sinister purpose, namely that the Japanese or South Korean scientists installed
them to assist with geological surveys.  These remain the most sensible alternative explanations.

3. Should not the spikes all be the same, if this was a coordinated planned Japanese project?  Made in some
factory as a set then distributed?  But they are all of different designs at the various locations; some are thin
and some fat as above, some are of iron (and now corroded), some look like the 'rebar' commonly used in
reinforced-concrete construction, and some of steel; they have different tops.  This lends weight to the ideas
that they were ad-hoc projects of military supplies-hauling or surveys, over several decades.

4. There are no records that Japanese Imperialists would so strongly believe in this geomantic effect; they were
modern-scientific minded and against "old superstitions". The downtown Seoul modifications like Gyeongbok-
gung, City Hall and the Shrine on the peak of Nam-san were real, but were probably intended as psychological
warfare on the colonized, same as imperialists did all over the world with imposing buildings and marginalization
of native culture.  Performing these spikings of peaks secretly, what would they achieve for public propaganda?
It is true that the colonial authorities did a great deal to support Korean Buddhism, and some research suggests
that they also researched and promoted native Shamanism, as parts of their "cultural policy" of the 1920s.  But
this gives no indication that the top imperialist bosses believed strongly in Geomancy (outside of Japan), or that
they employed it in their policies towards Korea
(or Manchuria, Taiwan, North China, SE Asia...).    Did they spike the
key mountains above Manila or Nanjing..?  If any such records/testimony ever surfaced, it would be fascinating.

5. The idea is that this was done to "weaken the national spirit & energy" and thus thwart the 1919 Independence
Movement, which did indeed die-off in the 1920s.  But the Japanese imperialists regarded Korea as an extension
of Japan, just slightly inferior; same ancient "pure" blood, and very much needed K labor and support for their
modernization projects and WW-II.  Wouldn't they want the Koreans to be
physically stronger and active, not
weaker?   If Korean advocates counter that the Japanese wanted Koreans to be mentally/spiritually weak but
strong-in-body -- then that contradicts the whole theory of
san-gi, that it primarily provides physical vitality --
and vitality of spirit is from
cheon-gi [Heaven-energy] Did the Japanese try to block cheon-gi from Koreans...?
There are no records or accusations that they did.

6. Koreans had a Joseon-era tradition of driving dozens of long thin iron spikes into the tomb-mound of their
enemy's ancestor, to disrupt the good-fortune
san-gi; that makes sense on that small scale.  But how could one
or two little spikes disrupt the
san-gi-flow of a mighty cluster of mountains??   No traditional geomancer even
believed that; it seems absurd.   Do Koreans really think that their mountain-energy-flow is so WEAK??
Gawd, the Baekdu-daegan Mountain-System is so grand and powerful (and already mineral-rich), a few little
metal spikes are the slightest of pinpricks.  That these small & few spikes would actually weaken national energy,
or that the Japanese imperialists seriously believed that it would, both seem ridiculous.

7. The activity of finding/ removing these spikes began around 1990 and centers around 2000.   So, shouldn't
Korea's "vital energy" have been sapped until then??   It seems to me that South Korea displayed world-class
dynamic vitality 1960~2000, was not lacking a bit -- and was in-fact MORE energetic than ever before in its
history since the Three Kingdoms!!

Please e-mail me your own discoveries or opinions about this to mntnwolf@yahoo.com
After the above stake-extraction, a Neo-Confucian-style healing ceremony was held
for the spirit and energy of Jiri-san Cheonhwang-bong, with young Koreans
brought-in to participate, so as to educate and devote them in nationalist ideology.
The concept-accusation is, the Japanese colonial-imperialists drove metal spikes into key peaks and ridge-lines
of Korea's most important (and sacred) mountains, especially along the
Baekdu-daegan mainline, in order to
disrupt the
ji-gi [earth-energy], more specifically the san-gi [mountain-energy] flowing therein according to the
Pungsu-jiri theories of National Master Doseon Guksa (see those pages to understand the background theories
deeply).  The supposed object of doing this was to weaken Korean's national energy & spirit in the 1895-1945
era, make it easier for the Japanese to gain and then maintain control over the Koreans. This concept-accusation
is strongly asserted by modern South Korea's many fervid anti-Japanese nationalists, and is taught as fact to
21st-century Korean children.  There are about a dozen sites where activists claim to have found such spikes
and extracted them; perhaps four can be considered "major" such sites, with permanent displays of the items
and explanatory signboards.  I took photos of the "spikes" at other locations in 1995-2001, but for now cannot
find them in my archives.  My photos on this page are from
Jiri-san Cheonhwang-bong Beopgye-sa, probably
the chief contemporary site of such claims and charges.