The Silhak (Practical Science) Ideology of Baek-won Ha (pen name: Gyunam)
Gyunam Ha, Baek-won was born and lived in his hometown in Jeolla-do his whole life, with the exception of the brief period he left for his studies and to take on government positions. His life, although he did not ascend to a high government position, illustrates the images and concept of a Silhak scholar of Honam region who was not in a position of political power in the 19thcentury but who strictly adhered to the Silhak ideology of‘improving the daily lives of people by using convenient tools and providing an abundance of food and clothing’. His life story will be examined, along with the achievements of the ancestors of the households of Jinju Ha’s (his family clan), and the works of to his homeland..
A wide range of poems, letters and literary compositions of Gyunam Ha, Baek-won will be examined, including from his book, [Gyunammunjip (Collection of literary works of Gyunam)] and the poems and drawings contained in [Haeyusihwacheop] compiled and published while viewing and appreciating nature in Boryeong, Chungcheong-do, which was the place of his exile.
Gyunam Ha, Baek-won, who strictly adhered to the Silhak ideology of ‘improving the daily lives of people by using convenient tools and providing an abundance of food and clothing’, asserted to the classical scholars that “academic pursuits not only refer to the reading of the classics for the examination for government offices but rather include all aspects of life such as farming, crafting and commerce,” while criticizing the social conditions of the time that were inclined towards Confucian teachings that neglected practical aspects of life. We will study the spirit of the exhaustive Silhak ideologies of Ha, Baek-won contained in his books, maps, astronomical charts and paintings.
The Classics Operation Office of the National Library of Korea is undertaking a project for the excavation of ancient literature owned by private individuals through which investigation, classification and organization of all the ancient literature owned by individuals will be done with the consent of the owner. Also, producing digital files of the images with original color through photographing and scanning will be done and the results will be provided to the owners of this ancient literature. Let’s examine the process of the participation of the households of Ha, Baek-won in this project for the excavation of ancient literature owned by private individuals.
Although Gyunam Ha, Baek-won left behind outstanding achievements including the invention of Jaseungcha, production of [Donggukjido], a geographic atlas produced 51 years earlier than the [Daedongyeojido] of Kim, Jeong-ho, and production of an [Astronomical chart] and [Gyeyeongbae], etc., he is not currently being fairly evaluated in comparison to other Silhak scholars. From this perspective, this lecture will examine the achievements of Gyunam Ha, Baek-won, a Silhak scholar in the latter years of the Joseon Dynasty, evaluated as a “Practical Scientist”, including the analysis and restoration of his [Jaseungchadohae], and the excellence of scientific technologies in his experimental research, and structure and operational principles of Jaseungcha, etc.