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[Opinion] Parody Nobel Prize

Posted October. 09, 2003 22:59,   


The second week of October is the Nobel Prize season. Five winners’ names among the six winners of Nobel Prize are announced during this period. Only the winner of Nobel Prize for literature is announced on Thursday, irrespective of the second week. Because the winners’ names are announced at night, the press anticipates the candidates beforehand and waits for the result. Especially for the candidates of the Nobel Prize for literature, who have a high reputation in Korea, four to five journalists of the cultural section prepare their works, characteristic of them and chronological histories. When an anticipated candidate wins the prize, then there is no problem, but problems occur when an unexpected writer wins it or the person who has none of his works published in Korea.

The Nobel Prize, founded in 1901, is awarded for six categories: physics, chemistry, physiology•medicine, literature, peace and economics following the will of Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite. The award ceremony is held in Stockholm, Sweden, but the Peace Prize ceremony is held in Oslo, Norway. The prize, initially at 150,800 krone (about $42,000) at first, has recently grown to 10 million krone (about $940,000). In case of co-winners, the prize is split equally.

On October 10, the winner of Nobel Peace Prize, the last one announced, will be made known.

A humorous scientific magazine in the U.S. annually awards ‘IgNobel’. It signifies ‘ignoble Nobel Prize’ with the ‘Ig’ of ‘IgNobel’ standing for ‘ignoble’. An American professor who wrote the paper about the reason why drivers don’t stop at red light won the IgNobel for literature, and an Indian who had tried to testify his 18-year existence after the government’s pronouncing his legal death as an error won the prize for peace. IgNobel for medicine was bestowed to a research team from London University which revealed the fact that taxi drivers’ brains are bigger than those of common citizens and the prize for technology to a captain and a medical officer of the U.S. Air Force who made ‘Murphy’s law’.

It may be interesting to award ‘Parody Nobel’ in Korea where a lot of uncommon events happen. Parody Nobel prize for press can be bestowed to ‘public-managed broadcasting station’s attack against a newspaper’, prize for education to ‘birth in US’, prize for real estate to ‘the price of apartment in Gangnam’, prize for comedy to ‘the auction of ex-president’s household belongings’, prize for catching eyes to ‘ex-minister of sea and fishery department, Choi Nak-jung’ and so on. ‘Mothers of 3 year students in high school’ and ‘wild goose fathers’ will possibly be the co-winner of the prize for service and Kim Chul-su of North Korea (and Song Du-yul of South Korea) is a strong candidate for prize for ‘coming and going’.

Oh Myung-chul, editorial writer oscar@donga.com