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2019.01.31 00:27

The Thoreau Trail in South Korea

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Thoreau Trail in South Korea from TSB 303 FALL 2018.pdf  <사진을 포함한 전문/ 클릭>

 

The Thoreau Trail in South Korea


by Inho Yoo


On April 24, 2018, a walking trail named after Thoreau was opened to the public in South Korea. The National Institute of Ecology, established in 2013 with a mission of research, education, and exhibition, created the Thoreau Trail to enhance people’s understanding of Thoreau as a pioneering ecologist and to commemorate the Henry David Thoreau Bicentennial.The Institute and the Trail are located in Seocheon county in the province of Chungnam, about two hours by car from Seoul.

 

In fact, the Trail is the third one in its kind at the Institute, following the establishment of the Jane Goodall Trail in 2014, in commemoration of Goodall’s visit to the Institute the same year, and the Charles Darwin and Peter & Rosemary Grant Trail in 2015. The first Director of the Institute, Jaechun Choe, a Harvard-educated biologist who had studied under E. O. Wilson, envisioned a Thoreau Trail as the third. After Choe’s departure in 2016, the work was completed under the direction of Jinchul Chung, the Executive Director of the Bureau of Eco Exhibition and Education of the Institute, in cooperation with Daesun Son, the Deputy General Manager of the Division of Botanic Research and Management, and many others.


The Trail itself comprises about a mile (1.3 km) of meandering forest and pond-side wetland walking tracks. Beside the Trail in the woods stands a cabin replica. The Thoreau Memorial, as it is called, is almost the same size as the original and overlooks a small but beautiful pond a quarter of the size of Walden Pond. The cabin was completed a month after the Trail itself, on May 28, 2018, and at that time my wife Jongmyoung Choi Yoo and I had the pleasure of visiting it. The cabin is intended to be used as an educational site for the visitors of the Institute’s vast “Ecorium” to learn about and experience Thoreau’s philosophy of a life of simplicity. Thus, it is not simply a memorial or a replica, but a working space, hosting periodical talks and lectures on Thoreau. On the day of the opening of the cabin, I had the honor of making a brief talk on Thoreau’s years at Walden before some members of the staff, and was also asked to give a lecture on him in the autumn to the Institute staff and Trail interpreters.

 

Along the course of the Trail, visitors encounter Thoreau’s words. The texts—including sayings like “In Wildness is the Preservation of the World,” and “Our village life would stagnate if it were not for the unexplored forests and meadows which surround it. We need the tonic of wildness,” and “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads”—were selected on my recommendation and written in parallel Korean and English upon board-posts that stand in spots of ecological significance. They are bound to attract a saunterer’s attention and interest.

 

The woods and pond are lovely in their own right, with many kinds of trees and flowering plants as well as song birds and other animals In this respect, too, the atmosphere of the place is quite like that of Walden Pond itself. A little Walden & Thoreau revival in Korea!

 

• Inho Yoo taught American Literature at Chungbuk National University and is now a Professor Emeritus. He has been a Thoreau Society life member since 1999, and recently translated Richard J. Schneider’s Henry David Thoreau into Korean (Seoul: HankookMunhwa-Sa Publishing Co., 2017) as a Thoreau Bicentennial International Ambassador.


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