Soswaewon Garden, or the Garden of Pure Mind, epitomizes the literati gardens of the mid-Joseon Dynasty.
Nature and manmade elements are smartly harmonized in this woodland garden embodying the upright mind and restrained aestheticism of ancient Korean scholars.
Yang San-bo (1503-1557), a young scholar born in Damyang, built this garden after returning to his hometown giving up his worldly ambitions when his teacher, Jo Gwang-jo, was sent to exile in a literati purge.The garden comprises a wooded estate of some 4,060 square meters in the form of a trapezoid, with a stream gorge running through the center.
It is divided into several areas depending on spatial features and functions: the area around Aeyangdan (Sun Lover's Terrace), the area around Ogokmun (Gate of Five Bends), the area around Jewoldang (Hall of Clear Moon), and the area around Gwangpunggak (Pavilion of Light and Wind).
The woods have various trees including bamboo, pine, zelkova and maple trees.
Main structures like pavilions, gates and walls bear signs engraved on stone or wooden plates, such as Aeyangdan, Ogokmun, or Soswae cheosa yanggong jiryeo (Free Man with Pure Mind; The Hut of Lord Yang).
A woodblock print of the garden, dated 1755, the 31st year of King Yeongjo, shows the garden in its original form.