To cultivate Korea’s human resources, these mentors are in charge of closely training and educating 3200 college students across the country.
I asked professor Kang, who was taking an active part in this project, about the motivation and background in visiting this place.
“We, the Republic of Korea, have quickly advanced to democratization, industrialization and welfare state among the independent countries after World War II ended,” professor Kang said. “As the blueprint is great, so is the building; there should be a blueprint for the founding of the country in the hidden side of the Korea’s successful history. Today, we visited Yanghwajin Foreign Missionary Cemetery as a historical trip to create the blueprint and explore the foreigners who had laid the foundations for the Modern State.”
What does Yanghwajin have to do with the History of Modern Korea?
“This is a very important place that marked a turning point in our modern history in a word,” Kang said. “Lots of foreigners who were buried in Yanghwajin Foreign Missionary Cemetery were the great pioneers of modern education and hidden contributors in the liberation movement from Japanese colonial rule. Under a dictatorial Seclusion policy published by Daewongun in the Late Period Chosun, our national power had greatly decreased and many people had been slaughtered. At that moment, Emperor Gojong and Empress Myungsung, adopted the advanced western culture and established the ‘Educational Park,’ a government school for the first time in 1886. Next, Emperor Gojong invited foreign teachers capable of teaching modern sciences here and the first visiting teacher was Homer Bezaleel Hulbert.”
Would you elaborate a bit more on Dr. Hulbert and the first modernized education?
“On arrival in our land, Hulbert undertook an important assignment of the first modernized education project between Korea and the United States,” Kang said. “He insisted that there was no way for us to live but education, and took the lead in laying the foundations of modern education as well. He became a devotee of a Phonogram called Hangul. That is because he had found that the Korean Alphabets consisting of 10 vowels and 14 consonants were the easiest to learn, read and write among more than 100 written languages in the world. And he directly published a World Geography Atlas so-called ‘Saminphilgy’ written in pure Hangul.”
What do you think the historical meaning and significance of Saminphilgy?
“Tsushima Island was referred to as the land of South Korea in this book, while revealing something enlightening to instill national consciousness,” Kang said. “This book was noted as the most popular not only in schools but also for ordinary persons.”
Accordingly, Kang claimed that Koreans should have some fundamental knowledge of understanding all their dedication and hard work.
* Park Yoon-ja earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2005, then graduated from Ewha Graduate School of Social Welfare and Ewha Graduate School of International Studies as a double major in 2008. She won the title of the oldest graduate in Ewha’s 127-year history. She is currently a reporter for the SilverNetNews.