By Jeongnam Kim
(Former Senior Presidential Secretary for Education·Culture·Society, World Korean News advisor)
A plow is used to plough the field; a shovel is used to turn the soil; a pick is used to dig the land. There are many a different farming tools, but the hand plow is the most useful tools for both for a Korean man and woman. The merit of this tool is with this one tool, you can do many different jobs. such as dig the land, plough up, plant a seedling, and remove the stones and weeds. You use it to pull, to pick and to scrape with the use of your weight.
When you travel the Yanbian region of China, you come to see some people working the farmland in the field. They say that the people who sit down and tend the soil with a hand plow are Korean and those who tend the field with a pick are Chinese. The hand plow has a long history. A mention of a plow is contained in a passage of the Interpretative Edition of the Hunminjeongeum. the Korean Alphabet created by King Sejong the Great.
The June Monthly Odes to the Moon, a farmers' song, in its June version, sings:
"When the day breaks, I pick up a plow/Without a cessation all the long/Tend the soil sweating/To the point of having difficulty breathing." This ballade speaks of how hard it is to get rid of weeds with a plow. There is a poem of tending the field written by Song-gang Jeong Cheol (1536-1593), singing: "Let's go out with a hand plow/ When I finish tending my field, I will come to help you/ On the way home I will pick up mulberry to feed silkworms."
A hand plow is different from other farming tools; it is mostly used by women working to weed the field sitting. Novelists Park Kyeong-ri and Park Wahn-seo used to tend their lands and did some gardening. However, even men had to use hand plows tending the fields. It becomes July by the time the first and second weeding of rice paddies is finished, there has been an even of celebrating the plow cleaning and hanging.
A 'Plow handing' event is a celebration of handing your plows when the season of field tending is over, and I once have seen a scroll of calligraphy of Chusa about the plow hander. And the celebration of plow cleaning is when the farmers share the happy time of finally freeing themselves from the pain of tending fields. In the Goyang County of Gyeonggi Providence, a song about the handing of plows has been handed down for generations, and the plow cleaning celebrations are observed all over the country.
In this event, the best farmhand of the most productive household is selected, crowned with satgat, or a conical bamboo hat, and mounted on a cow, and all the villagers make a round of the village led by the farmhand.
Homi, or the Korean hand plow, is a popular garden tool used widely in the United States, Australia and other Western countries.
Homi, always near at hand, is fondly referred to when we talked about the good earth, and furthermore, our fatherland and our land. Lee Sang-hwa, in his piece of poem titled "Does spring come to a lost land, too?, he sings: "Let me hold a homi./ This soil as soft as a fat breast/ I want to walk on until my ankles tingle./I want to get drenched in sweat.