But even if the nation's major rivers can be dredged of 30 years of carefully discarded industrial waste, there is a bigger threat to Korea's world-famous harmonious harmony - that of the iron stakes brutally driven into Korea's heart during Japan's colonial occupation in an attempt to destroy the flow of feng shui energy - or pungsu-jiri as it is called in Korea - through the country. The energy, which originates from Mount Baekdu, flows down Korea's Baekdu-Daegan mountain system, forming Korea's main feng shui central nervous system, before spreading out through subsidiary ridges. The Japanese knew that by driving these metal spikes into Korea's earth at strategic points, in a blatant act of feng shui terrorism, they could curb the patriotic will and national vitality of the Korean people.
When Korea beat Japan at the end of the Second World War and the occupying Japanese soldiers ran away, the provisional government sent geographers and shamanists out across the country to locate the large pole-like iron spikes, but Japan, with a new plan to dominate Korea economically rather than militarily, refused to reveal where they had been placed, and not all of them could be located.
With both areas of flat land in Korea having been populated, feng shui experts said that the sense of unease and something "not quite being right" that was pervading Korea must be due to iron Japanese stakes remaining in sparsely visited mountainous regions. Anxious to continue the search, the government encouraged mountain climbing as a national pastime. After the Korean War, the new pastime also provided an additional benefit in the area of mine clearance, but over time it was the hunt for those large thorns sticking into Korea's heart which rose to prominence again.
Technology has proven ineffective. The heavily forested nature of South Korea's mountainous landscape makes spotting the Japanese stakes impossible from the air or by optical satellites, and Korea's first domestically built geomancy satellite, which was designed to detect feng shui, ley line and geophysical anomalies from orbit, was destroyed shortly after launch by it's Russian-designed and operated rocket in a mid-air explosion which local fortune tellers failed to predict.
The solution would obviously be for Japan to help the Korean people and atone for their past crimes, and yet for all Japan's claims at wishing to put its past behind it and seek friendlier relations with South Korea, political leaders in Tokyo still refuse to reveal where they drove their iron stakes into Korea's heart.
Today, many elderly Koreans can still be seen regularly heading off to the mountains in search of the remaining Japanese stakes, but as each year passes, fewer and fewer of the objects are found and removed. Meanwhile, the sense of unease which has continued to hang heavily over Korean society has, if anything, shown signs of increasing, and changing demographic and pastime trends are causing fewer and fewer young people to climb up into the mountains to join in the search, raising the frightening prospect that Korea's national spirit will never return to its uninhibited state. It seems time is running out in the search for Japan's feng shui destroying stakes.
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