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[Opinion] Gimhae Gyeongwon High School Is Inventor Training Ground

[Opinion] Gimhae Gyeongwon High School Is Inventor Training Ground

Posted October. 28, 2005 07:38,   


Jang Young-sil of the Joseon Dynasty was as great an inventor as Thomas Edison.

Impressed by his outstanding talent, King Sejong appointed him to an important position and said, “Jang has exceptional talent.” He created great inventions such as Jagyeokru, a water clock. Jang, the son of a gisaeng (female entertainer), originally worked as a servant at a local government. The fact that he was admired by the king and promoted to senior grade, second rank from a servant in such a stratified, caste-dominated society is testament to his ingenuity.

The Chinese invented all of the world’s four greatest inventions including paper, typography, the compass, and gunpowder. But Korea is also unrivalled in terms of creativity. Korea invented the world’s first metal typography, rain gauge, and turtle ship, an ironclad warship in the shape of a turtle. The fact that scholars of silhak (practical learning) such as Jung Yak-yong in the later Joseon Dynasty showed great interest in Seohak proves that Koreans have traditionally great enthusiasm for science and invention. Seohak came to mean Catholicism later on, but originally referred to the advanced science and technology of Western countries. Jung, a Confucian scholar, even made a crane using several pulleys to build Suwon Castle.

Gimhae Gyeongwon High School in Gyeongnam is solidifying its status as the best training ground for inventors, and its students have won awards in a series of national invention competitions. It was chosen as the best school for three years in a row in national student scientific invention competitions, and its students have participated in the world’s youth creativity competition representing Korea.

In the school’s invention room, a banner saying: “I can be an inventor, too,” is hanging on the wall. It means if you continue to try to invent, you can develop challenging spirit and creativity. Their passion and enthusiasm to keep the tradition of great inventions alive is admirable and beautiful.

Edison said jokingly one day: “I sleep four hours a day, and the rest of the day, I just have fun.” He spent much of his day having fun disassembling and assembling machines to invent new ones. Gimhae Gyeongwon High School officials have also said the secret to their success is to keep inventing 24-7. Hwang Woo-suk, a professor of Seoul National University, explained, “Koreans are dexterous, mainly because they use iron chopsticks.” Elvin Toffler also predicted “The world will be ruled by people who use chopsticks.” If efforts are added to the talent, we may have another great inventor who can even excel Jang Young-sil.

Hong Chan-sik, Editorial Writer, chansik@donga.com