Yeongju is a small town that sits right on the southern base of Sobaek Mountain in the Northern Gyeongsang Province (AKA Gyeongbuk-do). It's also the third most northern city in the province after Bonghwa County and Uljin. Though it doesn't boast a booming population or tons of skyscrapers, it is home to a small village which is the birthplace of a particular Korean social-cultural value. Confucianism is a social and ethical philosophy based on the ancient foundations of social values and transcendent ideals of traditional Chinese society. Though Confucianism had already made its way to the Korean peninsula, institutions that were teaching it weren't known on a large scale.
Sosu Seowon Confucian Academy is documented as the first official institution of its kind on Korean soil, as well as the first to be royally sponsored. It began in 1542 when instructor Joo Sae-boong built a shrine to honor philosopher An Hyang, who was a scholar at the end of the Goryeo Dynasty which lasted from 918 to 1392. An Hyang (1243-1306) is known as the nation’s first Confucian scholar and the father of neo-Confucianism (a branch of traditional Confucianism). This shrine then inspired the construction of Baekundong Seowon Confucian Academy. It was then changed to Sosu Seowon when the scholar Toegye Lee Hwang requested it to the governor of Punggi County.
Trees for the scholars
These were symbolic for the students to remind them to endure the struggles of life like a tree endures the harsh winter cold.
Turtle Spirit Peak
This small hill next to the forest is said to resemble a turtle holding an egg. There is a platform here where students stood and waved goodbye to guests and other students.
Flagpole supports at Suksusa Temple
These are considered treasures left over from the Unified Silla Period. Suksusa Temple that once sat near here was destroyed during the reign of King Danjong.
Gyeong ryeom jeong Pavillion
Joo Sae-boong built this schoolyard under the shade to provide a natural landscape for young scholars. Here, they revived their spirits by hosting social gatherings.
This is one of the biggest Confucian Academy in the country. It consists of dozens of architectural constructions, relics, remnants, and natural attractions that make this destination one of the wonders of Gyeongbuk. This huge cultural complex also features the Sosu Museum and the Seonbi Scholar Folk Village.
Address: 152-8 Naejuk-ri, Sunheung-myeon, Yeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do