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Date 17.06.27 Hit 378
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UnYong KIM's Memoir 67(Graphys)


  67 English study up to university




The teacher who became mento in my beginning stages of learning English was Hong Jae-ik. Hong was one teacher that influenced me the most in becoming a diplomat, and I respected him very much. Hong was young, understanding, and was sophisticated and well-mannered. He was of course very popular with the students.

Hong later qualified in the 1st Foreign Service exams and took the road of a diplomat. The teacher, who had chosen through a very difficult examination where only 3 or 4 people qualified, started to work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was my role model.

He was later appointed as Vice Council in Hawaii, but he could not go. Things were very unstable in those days, and later Mr. Hong moved to  Jeil Bank. After I met Mr. Hong, I decided to become a diplomat that competed with people from other countries for Korea. That is why I went on to Political Science and Diplomacy department at Yonhee University (currently Yonsei). The reason I went to Yonhee was because it was the only school that offered diplomatic science.

Yonsei University, with the slogan liberty and freedom, was probably the most liberal school of the time. It responded very sensitively to the changing trends, and professors who had been educated overseas gave passionate lectures to the students. Also, because there were many foreign pastors, much could be learned about the cultures of the world, and practical and rational western ideals. Yonsei was founded by American Missionary Horace Underwood.

I was a student dreaming on becoming a diplomat, and that was why I chose Yonsei University. The teachings of Professor Baek Nam-joon, who was the President of the University, still remain clearly in my memories. In his celebration speech, Baek said “Korea is a newly found independent country and it has been reborn. It used to boast a long tradition and history, but through the colonial times, it spent 36 years in dark despair. However, now Korea is free from the dark tunnel of the past, and has a chance to fly out towards the world. All of you are the brash and talented youngsters of the newly founded Korea, and you are now standing in Yonhee University, the place of liberal and creative education. Students! Let’s not stay limited to the inside walls. We must look to the world. Should we repeat the mistake of becoming isolated from the rest of the world and become a colony of another country? If so, how do you think that you can become global leaders? The world is a big place and there are so many things for you to challenge. If all of you have big ambitions, and lead a meaningful university life, this country and this world will be led by you.

With his white hair flapping in the wind, he made this speech more passionately than any young person. Dr. Paik Nakjoon(George Paik) of Yonsei University was the lighthouses who guided me through my school years. Dr. Paik also emphasized the importance of relation. “Freshmen must meet many people with the thought of befriending seniors, and seniors must take care of the freshmen. Having friends that lasts for the many years will become more precious throughout life time.”

경동중 6학년 때 홍재익 선생님과.jpg
▲ In 6 grade with M. Hong Jae-ik

I enjoyed playing with friends from a long time ago, and Dr. Paik helped me to learn many principles about human relationships. This was 60 years ago, Dr. Paik’s words, telling students to have great ambitions and value human relationships. This is still a teaching that must be learned in today’s times as well.

In my days at Yonsei University, my English skills saw outstanding development. Professor Underwood’s wife was teaching modern English, and she directly influenced me in making my young English more sophisticated. Mrs. Underwood, a sophisticated lady of beauty, stood in front of us in clean and tidy attire.

Professor Raymond Provost taught English Comsposition guided us from phonetics to writing in perfect English. He also made us memorize passages from the Bible. We memorized numerous passages from the holy book, and were able to understand western culture a little better. Professor Philips taught “Principles of Democratic Government” in English, helping us understand Western politics and philosophy.

Professor Kim Sung-ki, who studied phonetics in London University and later became the deputy minister of the Education, taught us English reading. He once wrote a page of Aesop’s Fables on the board and then after a while erased it. Then he asked us the following question: “Is there anyone that can memorize the sentences that I erased?” As soon as he asked this question, Lee Won-ik raised his hand. However, he failed to remember the last line. Some other students tried but all of them failed.

I was the last to raise my hand, and the first to memorize it perfectly. Professor Kim pointed at me and said “This is the kind of people we call a prodigy.” Actually, because so many students repeated the sentences, I was able to memorize it completely at the end. I guess I might have been lucky.
I can still proudly say that I studied very hard in my freshman year. No matter how smart you are, you can never beat a person who makes best effort. I realized this during my freshman year. I had to discontinue university in my 2nd year due to the Korean War, but the things that I learned in the short time were some of the most valuable and precious lessons of my life. I was able to graduate from Yonhee in 1960, 10 years after I was admitted in 1949. After my long years serving in the military and studying in the States, I finally came back to my home country and received my diploma.

Always, there are bound to be hardships and sufferings, but my youth started with the modern history of Korea. However, even in those dark and painful times, I was always moving forward, in search of light. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had not done what I did, and lived my days complaining about how my misfortune brought to me in the times of war and chaos.
My early years were full of trials. Manchurian War started when I was born. Sino-Japanese War started at first grade. World War Ⅱ ended and Korea was liberated at 9th grade. Then Left and Right is fought hard before Korea became Independent Republic. Korean War started at my college sophomore years and had to join Army to serve at battlefield. Then came April 19 Student Revolution, and May 16 Military Coup. Seoul Olympics Preparation for 7 years and effort to globalize Taekwondo as Olympic sport were highlight. But I had to do many things at one time in those days.   


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