Second Senior Rank Pine of Mt. Songni in Boeun
The legend of Jeongipumsong (Second Senior Rank Pine), which stands in the path to the temple Beopjusa on Mt. Songni, narrates the story related to the tree and King Sejo of Joseon.
The story is based on the king’s visit to the village of Hoein and Mt. Songni in Boeun, North Chungcheong Province, in the second lunar month of the 10th year of his reign (1464). The anecdote about the pine tree, however, is not found in historical records and the oral transmission is based on the imagination and historical perspective of the local residents.
King Sejo, suffering from severe skin and eye disease symptoms, was seeking recuperation in noted scenic places around the country. He was headed to Beopju Temple on Mt. Songni and as the king’s party arrived at the village of Sangpan via the mountain pass Maltijae, they came across a huge pine tree by the road, shaped like an umbrella, upon which King Sejo said, “It is blocking my palanquin.” At this, the tree’s branches, which were hung low, rose up toward the sky, making way for the king. In apprecitiation, Sejo bestowed on the tree a second senior government rank.
In some variations, the pine tree lifts the branches on the king’s way to Beopju Temple, and when he heads to his royal villa, the tree provides shelter for the king from a rain shower. Another tale about a pine tree’s shape is transmitted in a different region.
The legend of the “Sagging Tree on Mt. Dong in Cheongdo” tells the story of a tree that lowered its branches when a minister passed by, as if to offer a bow, and its branches stayed that way since.
The legend of Jeongipumsong emphasizes loyalty for the king and the government through the pine tree as a symbol of unchanging fidelity, against the historical backdrop of King Sejo’s illness and the instability of his reign. The versions of the king seeking shelter from the rain under the tree also reflect the local residents’ historical perspective of the time.