- The Humanities of Seoul
- The capital of South Korea and a megacity with a population of 10 million, Seoul is a complex city with diverse faces and a long history and a dynamic city that dramatically changes each day. Consequently, it is no simple task to ask what Seoul is to us. While there are numerous historical, cultural, and sociological studies and discussions on the city, Seoul still remains an object that must be known further. Likewise, records on Seoul are created through research and statistics of various standards. However, they do not reveal all of the city’s true colors, either. The city called Seoul is too multifaceted to be grasped by an approach from any particular direction, and an earnest exploration of the metropolis requires interest and perspectives from a variety of fields without being trapped in a particular one. Encompassing all of them is ultimately tied to an interest in humans, which is why this volume espouses the “humanities of Seoul.” How has Seoul changed? And what do we desire? The twelve perspectives that constitute The Humanities of Seoul lead from particular places or phenomena in Seoul to the city itself and, furthermore, to explorations and reflections on South Korean society today. Unearthing sociopolitical memories carved into space, exploring patterns in the lives of disparate generations who occupy space, reflecting on the human desire to determine the identity of space, and rethinking the gaze that distinguishes between oneself and others, these discussions demonstrate that the exploration of space ultimately is linked to looking back on our present. Based on such a problematics, The Humanities of Seoul is a fruit of the 2015 Seoul Humanities Project (Seoul Institute and the University of Seoul Institute of Humanities), which sought to record the present of the city of Seoul from the perspective of humanistic reflection. Tracing not only changes in the spatial significance of Seoul but also the consequent inner trajectories of the denizens of the city, this task was made possible through the authors, who shed light on the space called Seoul on multiple levels and from various angles through the lenses of diverse fields including literature, history, architecture, and philosophy. As captured by each of these lenses, Seoul is a place where a variety of time, space, and people mingle, which ultimately leads to complex insights into the space and social phenomena comprising the city and the human mind. The true faces of Seoul as revealed by the intricate intersections of these viewpoints and the humanistic insights as triggered by our minds reflected in the multiple facets of the city will provide a humanistic basis indispensable for imagining both the city and our lives in the future.
- Searching For the Way with a Pen
- Searching for the Way with a Pen is a memoir and an autobiography of Im Jae-kyong, a South Korean journalist who has unswervingly trod a single path all his life, dreaming of the genuine press during difficult times, and celebrates his 80th birthday this year. This volume offers an engrossing description of the process from the author’s birth during the Japanese colonial era (1910-45) to his growth into a young man against the backdrop of the Liberation (1945), Korean War (1950-53), and April 19 Revolution (anti-dictatorship movement; 1960). At the same time, it vividly recounts the process through which he, after graduating from the university and embarking on a career in journalism, engaged in the movement to democratize the nation’s press as a man of lofty ideals and an intellectual of praxis. While being an autobiography and a memoir that frankly reveals Im’s life and inner world, the book is highly significant also as a dynamic testimony to Korea’s turbulent contemporary history and the history of the press movement in South Korea. In addition, in light of the reality of journalism, which is all too liable to be swayed by political power and capital, the resistance and the spirit of the freedom of the press that the author demonstrates through his experiences will present invaluable implications regarding the true role and stance of the press not only to journalists themselves but also to all of us. Part 1 depicts contemporary life and society in rich detail as it follows Im’s years of growth, thus providing much to read as a self-portrait and a record of generations who were close to the tumultuous modern and contemporary history of Korea through the Japanese colonial era (1910-45) and the Korean War (1950-53). Dedicating himself to press democratization Part 2 records events within and without journalistic circles from the mid- to late 1960s, when Im began his career in earnest as a reporter in the economics section, to the 1990s, when he became the Vice President of the daily Hankyoreh, in terms of his relationships with diverse figures. In particular, his portrayals of various figures make for fascinating reading. A large share of the narrative is taken up by anecdotes created by Im’s relations with a large number of people including college friends and alumni, writers, colleagues from journalistic circles, and political and economic figures. The author reveals that when the former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung encountered him at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University (Harvard Center for International Affairs) in 1984 and asked, “Mr. Im, how about trying your hand at politics?” he declined on the spot. He also recounts the moving story of how his best friend and “warrior” Chae Hyeon-guk (director of Hyoam Educational Foundation) bought houses for many reporters who had been dismissed for their struggle to democratize the press. In addition, Part 2 is rich with accounts of the history of the dictatorial oppression of journalists under the Yusin (“Revitalization”) Constitution and military juntas, activities for the freedom of the press that the author led amidst the subsequent fervor for democratization, and the numerous figures whom he met in the process. Through this record by Im, who is a living testimony to the press in South Korea, readers can survey the history of journalism in the nation. As with records of figures who underwent the same periods as did the author, Searching for the Way with a Pen wholly reflects the maelstrom of contemporary Korean history. Moreover, the life of Im as a young man who dreamed of the freedom of the press overlaps perfectly with the history of journalism in South Korea. As such, this memoir is outstanding also as a record of the country’s contemporary history and a treasure house of the history of the contemporary press movement.
- Viability at 4PM
- Yeong-jin’s father, who migrated from Jeolla Province to Seoul in the 1970s, has raised three children by engaging in work ranging from manual labor to selling goods at markets. Her mother is financially independent as a custodian even as she approaches the age of 60. The protagonist’s younger sister, who has taken a leave of absence from work, desperately struggles with the task of rearing two children. Yeong-jin’s lover, Muk-ho is a full-time activist at an NGO for migrant laborers. Holding out to the utmost of their abilities to maintain ordinary lives, all of these figures are marginalized people in a “downhill society,” where it is difficult even to maintain one’s position no matter how much one tries. As befits Kim Seong-hee, who has focused on social problems, this story begins with personal lives but does not relinquish her problematics regarding social systems. As such, Viability at 4 PM will become a long-cherished work for not only readers who have prized and loved the author’s unique sensibility but also those who read her comics for the first time. “I’ve turned 40. I just didn’t know I’d become such an unmatured 40-year-old” The protagonist, Yeong-jin has settled down as a part-time schoolteacher after preparing for the government-administered public school teacher selection test for a long time. Her body gradually breaks down due to her unstable life. The physician coldly tells her to have her, an unmarried woman, to have her womb removed unless she plans to have children. her, an unmarried woman, to have her womb removed unless she plans to have children. In sharp contrast to the doctor’s words “Don’t let stress get you too much,” Yeong-jin’s life is a struggle each day. Required to renew their contracts annually and therefore unstable, part-time teachers must be mindful more of assistant principals and educational foundations running schools than of students. To avoid fall into disfavor, the protagonist attends church service every Sunday because the private school at which she works is Christian and does all overtime work shirked by her full-time teachers. One of her colleagues even serves as the assistant principal’s unofficial chauffer. Though all of this is something that she would have found unbearable in the past, with the passage of time, Yeong-jin has learned to give up and to turn a blind eye even to things that she dislikes. Although it is traditionally said in East Asia that one is unshakable and understands the ways of world at the age of 40, the figures in Viability at 4 PM including the protagonist are still confounded and swayed by the world. The author says that when compared to the hours of a day, the age 40 is like 4 PM. In other words, it is an age like 4 PM, when, thinking that it is late, one spurs oneself. The boundaries of a perilous society drawn by familiar strangers Nor are the conflicts shown by Viability at 4 PM only intergenerational. There is the ethical conflict between Yeong-jin, who has a staunchly petty bourgeois mentality, and her lover, who is a full-time activist for a migrant laborers’ organization. Her younger sister insists on her own way of raising children, which discourages and saddens her mother. The women’s parents discover their differences only in old age. Thus experiencing conflicts with those around them, the characters in this work lead their lives. Even in a downhill society, where one cannot climb up no matter how much one tries, the figures in Viability at 4 PM somehow maintain their lives without sliding down. The author asks, “What is the strength that enables us to bear such a painful life?” She names that driving force “viability”—in other words, the strength with which ordinary people withstand their respective lives, the strength of daily life that we learn from life itself, not at school. A comic book that will reverberate like a poem Viability at 4 PM is not a “healing” comic book that praises individuals holding out in difficult situations and provides readers with false consolation. This work offers genuine consolation to readers because it maintains a sharp gaze at society while understanding the lives of ordinary people. The accustomed yet perilous feeling that the author conveys through familiar characters that can easily be found around us will leave trailing notes in our hearts, like a poem, even after we have finished the book. “Fear will come again, and even though I may forget again then, I will take a step again and go home” (p. 199). Communicated through the protagonist’s last soliloquy, the author’s entreaty that we must not lose our lives even amidst deep despair will remain in readers’ hearts for a long time.
- Men Today
- “For me, it was hard to live all my life pretending to be a man “For me, it was hard to live all my life pretending to ‘know’ men” Why is this man so petty? Why does that man disparage women? Why does this man shed tears only when he is alone? Men Today delves into the inscrutable heart of men, who establish hierarchies wherever and whenever, obtain energy from acts of competition themselves, feel strong fear and anxiety before those with power, and express their emotions through sex rather than language. The literary characters, writers’ lives, and studies by diverse psychologists that Kim Hyung-kyung has carefully selected for this volume will add to the joy of reading and the cases that she has personally experienced will win readers’ empathy. “I’ve always thought so—that the worst person is the most pained person. When I look into the inner landscape of people who are criticized as violent and cranky, I confirm that they received such things from their important parent figures during years of growth. If growing children had even just one grownup who looked at them warmly, listened to them, believed in their potentials, and encouraged them, pained people would not have turned into bad people. It’s been slightly over ten years since South Korean society came to be aware of and to take care of problems of the heart. Nowadays, even men, too, seem to accept the fact that there is something called the heart within and that it is the strongest thing. Individual awareness and social systems must change at the same time so that pained men won’t turn into bad men” (p. 59). Chapter 1 “Pained Men, Sad Men” examines the psychology of men, who express their emotions in ways that are clearly different from those of women. It explores men who fill their friends’ glasses with alcoholic beverages instead of asking about their lives and express their feelings through non-action and non-response instead of relieving stress through chatting as well as anxieties experienced by men, who go to private foreign language schools desperately in the early morning even as they suffer from overtime work. Chapter 2 “In the Name of the Breadwinner and the Father” gauges the psychological burden on South Korean men as heads of families and fathers by examining the psychology of men who await marriage, are excessively attached to their daughters or overly neglectful of their children, and inflict violence at home. Chapter 3 “Men’s Sex and Love” will serve as an important guideline for forming relationships between men and women. The exploration of cases such as men’s petty or violent behavior after breakups, changes in men’s attitudes after marriage, and philandering men who endlessly seek to lure women is the author’s heartfelt advice for healthy relationships between the opposite sexes even though it at times shatters fantasies of romantic love that men and women may have about each other. Chapter 4 “The Heroes within Men” examines the behavior of men in terms of their rivalry and desire for power. Through cases such as stories of the compulsory military service that South Korean men often recount as if they were war heroes, true emotions of men that makes it difficult for them to apologize, and men’s irresponsible reactions when they claim to “resign out of a sense of responsibility,” it explains the hero psychology that has become second nature to men in a male-centered society. Chapter 5 “Men’s Growth and Aging” examines topics including middle-aged men’s anxiety and sense of crisis and elderly men’s psychology. Through the psychology of male seniorswho are feeling anxious and lost in a situation where social systems and discourses that will enrich life in later years are deficient even though human life span is approaching a century, it explores loneliness in old age. Explaining our own hearts, inscrutable even to ourselves, and the complex and subtle situations surrounding us with detailed and persuasive cases and language, Kim’s psychological essays have always soothed readers’ hearts tenderly. To men who have had a hard time living all their lives pretending to be a man and to women who have had a hard time living all their lives pretending to “know” men, Men Today will serve as an outstanding guide to relations between the two sexes that we can keep close at hand and consult constantly.
- Let’s Play with World History!
- A new world history that unfolds on maps All kids who are learning world history for the first time are invited! Let’s Play with World History! a history book for children learning world history for the first time, has been published. An inquisitive child, the protagonist, and a librarian with a wealth of knowledge learn about the history of the world in the process of pointing at maps and sharing questions and answers. Consisting not of a dry exposition but of an intriguing tale, this volume unfolds the diverse histories, religions, and cultures of Africa, Asia, Europe, Americas, and Oceania. It uniquely guides youngsters to have an open worldview by going beyond a narrative that centers on Western history and heroes and describing in simple language the everyday lives of people who have lived on a variety of continents on Earth. In addition, in keeping with the subtitle “A New Story of History Found on Maps,” the picture maps and historical photographs that appear appropriately as each page is turned will aid children to understand world history with greater ease. This book is the volume on history in the Changbi Books for Learning about Society Series. A book that can be read with ease and interest by children learning world history for the first time For youngsters learning world history for the first time and their parents alike, the immense quantity of global history will be the greatest burden. To alleviate such concerns, Let’s Play with World History! consists of one fun tale so that readers will not be overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge. Living on an island from which the sea can be seen, the young protagonist is fascinated by the histories, geography, religions, and cultures of other words while looking at the big old world map on the kitchen wall and learns about the stories of far-off lands through free-style lessons with the librarian. Turning the spotlight on diverse peoples around the world! Transcending a worldview focusing on the West or powerful individuals and groups, Let’s Play with World History! endeavors to address the histories of various peoples across the globe. Divided into five parts in accordance with the number of continents, the book guides readers to the history of the human race, starting with Africa and progressing to Asia, Europe, Americas, and Oceania, in this order. This is none other than the sequence in which humans settled down on each continent of Earth. In the process, the volume comprehensively teaches readers even about regions not often dealt with in other history books such as India and Antarctica. While following this progression, readers will naturally come to pay attention to the histories not only of large, powerful nations but also of the diverse peoples who have lived around the world. Examining the history of groups including the paraiyars (pariahs), the lowest caste in India who are not allowed even to drink from village wells, and Native Americans/First Nations, who were bereft of nearly all of their land by white people over a century, this volume warmly embraces those who were all too often excluded from existing historical narratives. Let’s Play with World History! will thus help youngsters to see the world from a broad perspective as they acquire increasingly complex and difficult knowledge in the growth process. Friendly maps that combine natural geography and human geography Noteworthy in Let’s Play with World History! are over 30 maps, which have been painstakingly drawn by hand. Unlike atlases used at South Korean schools, which try to cram as much information as possible on maps, these maps are unique in naturally arranging information so that they can be appreciated like paintings, thus enabling youngsters to understand the information from the main text more easily on the maps. Each section presents maps that allow readers to grasp at a glance the natural terrain of each continent such as mountain ranges, each continent such as mountain ranges, plateaus, rivers, seas, forests, and deserts and that present national borders and country names. In addition, places associated with historically important events or culturally noteworthy remains are presented separately through small maps and photographs, thus enhancing readers’ visual understanding. Thus encompassing on maps information on both natural geography and human geography, Let’s Play with World History! is expected to be established as a volume suited to children who learn the history of the world for the first time.
- Good Money, Bad Money, and Weird Money
- “Mr. Headache, what is money?” A philosophy of money that children must know * Winner of the grand prize for planning in the 19th Changbi Good Books for Children competition * Winner of the grand prize for planning in the 19th Changbi Good Books for Children competition, Good Money, Bad Money, and Weird Money has been published. Through fascinating conversations between Jae-won, a character with whom youngsters can identity, and Mr. Headache, this volume prompts readers to think about the essence of money. It examines in a multifaceted manner the limitations and possibilities of money including the history of the development of money, the social effect of money, and ways of overcoming the weaknesses of money. As such, the work will help children to grow into adults capable of using money independently. It is the volume on economics in the Changbi Books for Learning about Society Series. A philosophy of money that contemporary children must know To contemporary people, who live in an age of capitalism, money is a very important issue. Only with money, the minimal subsistence is possible and various kinds of happiness and joy can be experienced. Nor, for that matter, can children escape from the problem of money. Money affects not only the present but also the future of youngsters. Indeed, when children express their vocational dreams, many grownups judge those dreams by the standard of how much money can be earned through such occupations. According to the general social view, the failure to earn money is tantamount to a failed and unhappy life. On the other hand, there also are the voices of adults who say that money is not everything, that it does not determine happiness. These are voices of conscience from adults who are concerned that money may encroach on youngsters’ lives. However, it would not be persuasive if grownups categorically told children not to be dominated by money while striving to earn more money and, at times, relieving stress through money themselves. Even though money is an important part of our lives, people in fact do not ponder on its essence. All too often, they either pursue money blindly or criticize such a trend. Swerving to neither of these two positions, Good Money, Bad Money, and Weird Money leads children to understand the essence of money from diverse angles. By posing philosophical questions on money including its value, contradictions, limitations, and possibilities, this work aids youngsters to live not as its slaves but as its masters. The history of the currency economy conveyed through fascinating stories We are so accustomed to the currency economy system of today as represented by coins and banknotes that it is difficult to imagine other forms of money. However, money did not assume such forms from the beginning. Through analogies that are readily comprehensible to children, Good Money, Bad Money, and Weird Money explains the process through which the human race shifted from self-sufficiency and bartering to the use of money. At first, objects needed and deemed valuable by everyone such as salt, grain, and fabrics were used as currency. It was because, to be exchanged with other objects, currency itself must have value. With the development of the economy and an increase in the amount of goods produced, people came to need currency that was capable of representing increasingly more value. The result of such concerns is none other than the currency system of today. In fact, the value of coins and banknotes themselves is negligible. However, because everyone has acknowledged these pieces of metal and paper as “money,” we use them to buy food, clothes, and homes. The message of this book that the currency economy, which seems very firm, is actually based on people’s trust and that the form of money can freely vary according to people’s trust and social changes will present with a realization that goes against their common sense. Indeed, the currency system of today likewise has been changing gradually. Although children will still buy things with banknotes and coins, most adults pay with credit cards and make transactions online. We hope that the volume will serve as an opportunity to explore the social currents behind such changes and to ponder on future changes to money. Lively dialogues and heated debates between Jae-won and Mr. Headache Good Money, Bad Money, and Weird Money consists of conversations between Mr. Headache, a ceramic piggy bank, and Jae-won, a 12-year-old girl. One night, the jar-shaped money box in which the protagonist collects coins suddenly speaks to her. Having wandered around the world for a long time, Mr. Headache knows everything about money in particular. Suspicious yet highly curious, Jae-won starts to listen carefully to his stories about money. Mr. Headache visits and tells her about money for five nights. Instead of one-sidedly presenting his knowledge, however, he ceaselessly confirms the heroine’s ideas, explains anything that she is doubtful of with examples, and even induces her to respond by purposely piquing her. At times, Jae-won’s questions get to the heart of the matter and enrich the discussions. Such dialogues between the two characters are reminiscent of Socrates’ maieutic method. Although the protagonist has never studied money in earnest, she has certain thoughts of her own concerning it because money is a part of her daily life. Mr. Headache draws out such ideas from her with questions and helps her to develop her thoughts on her own. Jae-won in the text represents young readers reading this book. Consequently, readers will be able to participate actively in the reading process by listening to Mr. Headache’s stories and asking him questions along with Jae-won while, on the other hand, developing their own ideas. Simultaneously possessing limitations and possibilities, how should money be used? Good Money, Bad Money, and Weird Money clearly points out the limitations of money. Because it has been created to indicate the value necessary for economic activities, money by nature cannot show other kinds of value. Just as the value of a tree cannot be determined solely in terms of the value needed for economic activities, we must pay attention to and take interest in value that money cannot represent. Only then will we be able to protect immeasurable values that have been alienated from contemporary society. In addition to pointing out the limitations of money, the volume also grasps the abundance that money has brought us. Thanks to the currency economy, it has become possible for us to express and to accumulate value in astronomical figures. Consequently, the boundary of accomplishments that humans can make has been extended considerably, and we have been able to create a rich mental culture in the process. In the end, money can make people happy or unhappy depending on how it is used. For contemporary people, money is the basis not only of economic life but also of social and cultural life. We hope that, through this book, children living in this age will clearly realize the limitations and possibilities of money and perceive and use money independently.