An American Guide to the Baekdudaegan Mountain Range

      January 21, 2011 07:37

      Many foreigners are drawn to Korea by its bustling cities, but for American David Mason, 54, the country's greatest charms are its mountains.

      A professor of hotel and tourism management at Kyunghee University in Seoul, he was appointed a promotional ambassador for the Baekdudaegan mountain range, which runs most of the length of the Korean Peninsula, by the Korea Forest Service in early January.

      Prof. David Mason (left) poses with the head of the Korea Forest Service after being appointed promotional ambassador for the Baekdudaegan mountain range. /Courtesy of Korea Forest Service

      Mason is fascinated not just by the range's awe-inspiring scenery, but also by its cultural landscape, where folk religion, Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism have co-existed. In his new position he is to show the Baekdudaegan's cultural values to foreign visitors in 2011, which has been designated by the UN as the International Year of Forests.

      Mason majored in Oriental philosophy at California State University, San Francisco and earned a master's degree in Korean studies at Yonsei University in 1997. He first became interested in the Baekdudaegan some 20 years ago and began seriously researching it on his own initiative from 2006 while teaching at the university.

      Based on his research, he contributed to the 440-page "Baedudaegan Trail" guidebook written by New Zealand trekkers Roger Shepherd and Andrew Douch published in English by Seoul Selection last year. His website offers more insights into the book and the mountain range.

      Mason also works as a promotional ambassador for Seoul's Mt. Samgak, the proper name of the mountain commonly known as Mt. Bukhan. With his wealth of knowledge and affection for Korea, he operates several websites on Korean traditions and culture including Buddhism and the concepts of feng shui.

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