Mayor Jeon Dong-pyeong of the Yeongam County, near Gwangju, is hosting the 2016 Wangin Culture Festival in his county on April 7-10, 2016 for a four-day run in memory of the noted Korean scholar, Wangin Baksa (Dr. Wangin), who spread Hanja, Chinese characters and classics, to Japan in the third century.
And this year again, Mayor Jeon is inviting the ambassadors of the related countries to join various interesting events of the Festival
Dr. Wangin visited Japan at the invitation of Emperor Ojin of Japan (15th Monarch of Japan) in the 17th Year of King Asin (AD 392 to 405) of Korea’s Baekje Dynasty, and spread in Japan the Confucian Classic (including Chinese characters), calligraphy, blacksmith, pottery, weaving and various other forms of art and craftsmanship in Japan.
This year marks the 51st anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations with Japan, and it is all the more meaningful to host the Wangin Baekje Culture Festival.
The Yeongam County called a meeting of the promotional committee in early February this year and decided on a total of 60 interesting programs of the Festival.
The theme of the Festival this year is “The Light of Wangin Opens the Way to Communication and Co-existence!” and various interesting events take place at various venues, including Historical Sites of Dr. Wangin, the Sangdaepo Historical Park and the Pottery Museum.
Designated as a ‘Promising Culture-Tourism Festival’ for the two consecutive years, the 2016 Wangi Culture Festival consists of many interesting programs reinforced from those of last year for increased participation by the local residents and visiting tourists, especially for the participants to fully enjoy the blessings of the spring season, including the beautiful cherry blossoms expected to be in full bloom.
Among the highlights of the Festival is the extensive parade named “Doctor Wangi Goes to Japan” which will show the activities of Doctor Wangin, including his tour of Japan, musical performances and mass participation by the tourists.
There is also a special program where the tourists can color the large mural image of Doctor Wangin. There is also a tour course where the visiting places include the birth place of Wangin, his shrine, the Wangin Street and the Wangin tour course.
Before, the Festival was more or less an educational-purpose one. This year, some features were added to promote the interest on the part of visitors in the events.
There also are health-promotion programs related with Wangin and costume exhibitions and various folk cultural events.
The program also includes a Chinese character test and reciting of Cheonjamun (One Thousand Basic Chinese Characters).
There will also be the bicycle tour of the Sangdaepo Gurim Village and the Cherry Blossom Train Tour and various Cheonjamun (1,000 Basic Chinese Characters) events, including Kids Land, Funny Land Magic and Cheonjamun Land.
Then there will be a Dopoje Tug-of-War match, Samho Ganggang Sullae ring dance and Galgok Deulsory (traditional Korean folk drama), which form the Three Major Folk Plays of the Yongam County.
Wangin Baksa (or Dr. Wangin) was born in the Gurim Village of the Yeongam County of Jeollanam-do Province during the rule of King Geunchogo (?-375AD) of the Baekje Dynasty when the Kingdom was at the zenith of prosperity and cultural development. According to The Studies of the Ancient History of Korea by Lee Byung-do, a noted Baekje Scholar, Ajikgi, visited Japan with two horses on the instruction of King Geunchogo of Baekje and presented them to Emperor Ojin of Japan (15th monarch of Japan). Ajikgi then taught the Japanese people how to breed and rear horses.
Emperor Ojin of Japan learned that Ajikgi was very well versed in Confucian classics and appointed him the Teacher of Crown Prince Totochi.
When Ajikgi was readying for his return to Korea after his tour of duty in Japan had been over, Emperor Ojin had his own famed scholars of Japan (such as Arata Wake) accompany Ajikgi to Korea with a request to the Baekje King to send another highly learned scholar to Japan.
The Baekje King chose Wangin (then aged 32) and sent him to Japan with ten volumes of Noneo (Lunyu), the Analects of Confucius, and one copy of Cheonjamun (Qianziwen) containing 1,000 basic Chinese characters. As was briefly mentioned earlier, Wangin Baksa thus became the Teacher of Crown Prince Totochi of Emperor Ojin.
Wangin, at the age of only eight, entered the Munsanjae School located at the foot of the Wolchul-san Mountain in Yeongam and studied Confucian Classics and Buddhist scriptures. Wangin stood out in these studies and mastered the Five Books of Confucius at the age of 18.
Wangin accepted the offer of the King of Baekje and left Korea for Japan. In Japan, Wangin taught Chinese classics and history to the lords and subjects, and continued his own study of the Confucius.
The descendants of Wangin Baksa also lived in Kochi, Japan working at the Court as historians--greatly contributing to the development of ancient culture of Japan named the Asuka Culture .
In Kojiki, the famed History Book of Japan, the name of Wangin was listed as Wanikishi and identified as King Jogoju (Shokoshu) of Baekje. In another well-known ancient history book of Japan named Nihon Shoki, Wangin is listed as Wani.