Wednesday, May 19: Today after school, Mr. O insists on taking me to see the Placenta Chamber of King Sejo the Great, about 14 km north of Seongju. According to the Memorial Stone Tablet for the Placenta Chamber of King Sejo the Great: “In the 21st year of his reign, His Majesty King Sejong…ordered his royal servant to spot the auspicious ground for the placenta chambers of his many princes. Subsequently, they were built on the ridge of Mt. Seonseok, 14 km north of Seongju. Each chamber was marked with a memorial stone. One of them was the placenta chamber of the reigning king with the stone tablet inscribed with ‘Placenta Chamber for Prince Suyang.'”
Though Mr. O means well, his English is atrocious, so I cannot understand anything he tells me about this place. The only information I glean is from the stone tablet mentioned above and from the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea website.
The placenta jars of King Sejong’s 18 sons (legitimate and illegitimate) and grandson Danjong are buried in a group on the top of Taebong peak, just below Seonseoksan Mountain in Wolhang-myeon, Seongju-gun.
Of the 19 jars, 14 retain their original appearance but in the case of the five sons who opposed Sejo’s usurping the throne, their jars have been destroyed and only the large rectangular base stones carved with lotus leaves remain.
The placenta jars were placed here some time between 1438 (20th year of King Sejong) and 1442.
This site is also important for being the only one in Korea where the placenta jars of royal princes remain intact, and for showing changes in the way such structures were built during the transition from Goryeo to Joseon (Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea: Historic Site 444: Placenta Chamber of Princes of King Sejong in Seongju).
After visiting these bizarre placenta burial chambers, Mr. O takes me to see a traditional village. There aren’t many of these left in Korea, as the country has been overtaken by bland high-rise apartment buildings to accommodate the huge population.
This weekend is Buddha’s birthday weekend, and I’m planning a trip to Seoul for the 3-day weekend. Though this is a lovely outing, I would have preferred not to do it this evening, as I need to pack for my trip. But what can I do? Mr. O had his mind set on this, and I didn’t care to insult him any more than I usually do.