20 March 1830 - 1 July 1906
Kwangju Province, South Korea
Kyung-Hwan Ra, like his descendants, son Kyung-Jae Ra and grandson Chung-Heung Ra,
was a Confucian scholar, learned in the classical literature and adept in Chinese calligraphy.
Like many young men of his generation and social class, he aspired to improve the lot of his
family by passing a civil-service examination administered once each year in Seoul, the capital
and royal seat of the Joseon dynasty, and to thereby gain a valued government position.
Although he lived far away in Kwangju province, he made the multi-day journey to Seoul by
foot several times to attempt the annual examination. On the way he would sometimes spend a
night at Baek-Yang Sa ("white sheep temple"), a Buddhist temple in a beautiful mountain
setting near the way to Seoul. On one such occasion, very moved by the natural beauty of the
temple and surrounding area, he composed a poem to record his feelings about the peaceful
moonlit scene. That poem was later inscribed by the temple authorities on the upper level of a
pavilion overlooking a pond, where it can be seen still today.
Sources: Ra family records and stories.
L-R: (1) Some members of the Ra family at Baek-Yang Sa, October, 2010. (2) The pavilion where the poem is
inscribed. (3) The panel with the poem among others above the stairway on the second level. (4) Detail of the
poem. (5) View from the pavilion. (6) Members of the Ra family posing in front of the pavilion.