Go to contents

Prof. Song Ho-geun releases his third novel

Posted November. 04, 2020 07:41,   

Updated November. 04, 2020 07:41


Moon administration undermines democracy

Professor Song Ho-geun of Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) wrote two novels three years ago. As scholar, the sociology professor wrote more than 40 books, which gave him feeling a sense of emptiness as knowledge goes with time, he said. He has come back with the third book “The Birth of a Nation,” completing his trilogy in seven years with “The Birth of the People” and “The Birth of Citizens” which were released in 2011 and 2013 respectively. “The Birth series is based on more than 10 years of extensive research, and I do not feel empty,” he said in an interview with The Dong-A Ilbo at Dong-A Media Center in Seoul’s Jongno District last Tuesday. “I always felt that I had to finish this trilogy first before moving onto new books.”

The theme that runs through the the series is forums in the later days of the Joseon Dynasty and during the Japanese occupation of Korea. His books show how the people, citizens and a nation were born out of religious, political and cultural forums. “The Birth of the People” depicts how the spread of Hangeul allowed for forums among common men and women contributing the creation of the people, while “The Birth of Citizens” follow how the people evolved into modern citizens.

The latest book provides an in-depth look at how citizens had national consciousness under the harsh Japanese rule between 1905 and 1919. Song believes that the abdication of Emperor Gojong gave people a sense of responsibility for saving their country, and a sense of citizenship that was developing in cultural and religious forums, combined with a national identity and historic events, has led to the March 1st Movement. “Citizens become a nation when they are faced with historic events,” the author said. “Throughout the history, civic societies’ evolution into nations is often accompanied by revolutions and wars, and it was the March 1st Movement for South Korea.”

What would Professor Song make out of South Korea today after spending 13 years in studying forums? “The Moon Jae-in administration has closed doors on people who have different opinions, saying they do not know justice,” Song said, pointing out the lack of forums. “They are a group of people with similar backgrounds and ideals who are trying to defend ‘their democracy’ that they have protected since the 1980s at the expense of democracy. They are not much different from the Park Geun-hye administration that shut itself down when they were attacked by others.”

When asked if there would be his fourth book that depicts the modern era, Song said, “It is too early,” adding that studying the developments of forums after the Korean War would be challenging given that South Korea has become a multi-faith society. “I am toying with the idea of writing a novel about Yoo Gil-chun, an activist of Korea’s late Joseon Dynasty who argued for opening the doors to other countries.”

Go-Ya Choi best@donga.com