Korea is a beautiful country, and it has about fifty million mountains with well-established hiking trails. Many people like to go hiking on the weekends, especially at the bigger/more popular/more beautiful sites. When I go hiking, I feel most attuned with my body and my natural surroundings. I think it’s the closest to a meditative or above-normal-consciousness state that I’ve ever gotten. However, that state of mind is difficult to achieve when the place you are hiking is this populated:
It was like that the entire 5 hours we were on the trail two weeks ago, at Geumosan.
But I am lucky enough to have a small mountain and a series of hiking trails right behind my house. You’ll usually pass three or for people or couples, but there’s a lot of time spent alone (well, figuratively speaking — my boyfriend was with me) to absorb what’s around you.
What’s particularly interesting is the mountain played a big part in the Korean War. It’s actually the site of the Hill 303 massacre, and there’s a monument at the base of the mountain and also at the very top honoring those who were lost. The whole hill is dotted with ancestral graves — in Korea, traditionally they don’t bury their dead in a whole in the ground; they leave the body sitting up and cover it with dirt. There’s one small cleared patch on the west side of the mountain that has twenty or so of these graves. I’m not the type of person to get involved with spirit work (at least, you know, not before I know what the hell I’m doing), but I’m curious — if, for instance, I wanted to have anything to do with these spirits, would I have to learn enough Korean to communicate? Or, once you’re dead, would your energy sort of “transcend” the obstacles of spoken language?
Of course, depending on the time period of death, a lot of the Korean spirits might not want anything to do with me. But a lot of US troops got killed here too; maybe there’s a stray spirit or two hanging around who would like some company.
You know, eventually.