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As if representing his life - unperturbed with no frills

As if representing his life - unperturbed with no frills

Posted November. 26, 2022 07:21,   

Updated November. 26, 2022 07:21


“There was something within me that was kept intact that could be called the original nature of the mind or self. It was the spirit of innocence and steadfast courage deeply rooted in my heart and the essence of humility, consideration, and courtesy handed down from distant ancestors.”

The autobiography, written and refined over three years by the author, who served as the 44th president of the Korean Bar Association from 2007 to 2009, is truly down-to-earth with no frills. Although he was born in 1943 and is a generation that has experienced tumultuous times that raged on the Korean Peninsula, his words do not appear to be disturbed anywhere. Considering that he had practiced law all his life, it was expected that he would use the right language in the right place. Still, it is not easy to be candid and straightforward, even in an autobiography that reveals himself.

As the title suggests, the book follows the life of the author, who demonstrated an unwavering spirit, from his childhood memories to his 23-year life as a prosecutor after passing the bar exam in 1963. Since then, the journey he has walked throughout his life of service to society, such as the non-standing member of the National Human Rights Commission, the chairman of the Korea Communications Standards Commission, and the chairman of the Supreme Court Sentencing Commission, resonates powerfully.

Apart from this, there are two interesting aspects of the book. First of all, the author never blames others in his autobiography. Not all relationships in life must have had positive results, but there is no particular condemnation or belittling of others to be found. This may have originated from the author's caring nature to ensure that no one is "shortchanged or hurt." However, his wife's dignified disposition, who said, "Let's not just pray for our children to pass, but pray for all students to pass," during their child's college entrance examination, also seems to have influenced him.

It is also because the author always consulted with his family before planning anything. Although he does not detail this in his book, whenever something was proposed to him, he always describes it as “the family agreed after discussing it at home.” The decision to publish the autobiography also began with the earnest encouragement of his eldest son. His attitude of resolving issues through dialogue with an open mind during his days as the chairman of the Korea Communications Standards Commission may be attributed to what is reminded by the proverb, “Happiness begins at home.” He is also setting a desirable example for today's young people who value fairness.

Yang-Hwan Jung ray@donga.com