Thursday, January 13, 2005

The art of tea will be demonstrated at the opening of the Myung Won Tea Ceremony Center at 3 p.m. tomorrow.

Tea Ceremony center
to honor Korean tradition

One of Korea's oldest cultural traditions will become part of Honolulu's ethnic landscape with the opening of the Myung Won Tea Ceremony Center at the Palolo Korean Buddhist Temple. It will be housed at the Mu-Ryang-Sa Temple on Halelaau Place.

The ceremony takes place at 3 p.m. tomorrow as part of the temple's 30th anniversary.

The 2,000-year-old Korean tea ceremony was nearly lost until revived by the late Myung Won, who was awarded a Presidential Order of Merit for cultural contribution to Korea. Her Myung Won Cultural Foundation is now led by her daughter, Kim Eui Jung, who was named a living treasure of Korea and designated Intangible Cultural Asset of Seoul in the Royal Court Tea Ceremony.

Myung Won believed the tea ceremony was the core of Korea's spiritual and cultural heritage. It combines pottery, music, flower arrangement, dress, tea and etiquette. Ceremonies start with bowing in a show of respect to ensure proper frame of mind and behavior.

Korean tea culture dates to the Kingdom of Kaya in 42 A.D., when a unique Korean tea called Paksancha was brought by a princess to plant in the hills of Pakwul. It was used by royalty in ancestor rites, and as it gained popularity, tea plantations were started.

Ceremonies were conducted to achieve discipline of mind and body, strengthen spirit and pay respect to elders.

In the Koryo Dynasty starting 918 A.D., the popularity of tea expanded to scholars, literati and the public. Tea villages, or DaChon, sprang up to grow and supply tea to temples. By the Chosun dynasty, beginning in 1392, tea ceremony achieved official designation as one of five national rites, observed for occasions of greetings, happiness, congratulations, solemnity and military endeavors.

Myung Won studied tea as it reflected the teaching of the early Korean religion of SeonDo, which included the practice of modesty, generosity and harmony.

"It is our hope that the Korea tea ceremony will help introduce more of the traditional Korea culture to the Hawaii community," said Dohyun Gwon, Mu-Ryang-Sa Buddhist Temple abbot. "We would like to show young people, especially, the spirit and beauty of Korean culture, the importance of social values, proper etiquette and the power of philosophy."

Kim Eui Jung and her son-in-law, Honolulu native Yang-Seok Fred Yoo, will attend the opening ceremony. Yoo is currently director at American Insurance Group, responsible for Southeast Asia and greater China regional operations projects, and also serves as an executive advisor to the Myung Won Cultural Foundation.

Myung Won Cultural Foundation

E-mail to Features Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- http://archives.starbulletin.com