By Sawyer B. Rank
Centuries ago, the scribes of the Choson Annals dedicated their lives to recording events truthfully and thereby created not only a historical treasure, but a touchstone of journalistic integrity and a timeless standard for writers worldwide to admire and emulate.
With his monumental Click Into the Hermit Kingdom series, Korea Times writer Yang Sung-jin has revealed this unique Korean treasure to an admiring world. His skillful narrative and use of modern parallels has given readers important issues to consider, and profound material for lasting thought.
The Choson Annals are filled with intellectual wealth and cultural wisdom. With delight and fascination we behold the parade of Choson rulers, officials and scholars, and their parents, children, husbands and wives. Yet, as we watch their characters unfold upon the stage of history, we realize people have not changed, for indeed the Choson Annals mirror our own behavior, and it is also ourselves we see.
Challenged by wars, natural disasters and political and family strife, the Choson people suffered immeasurably, yet the Annals record a common, redemptive thread throughout their history, recalling the Korean proverb: 하늘이 무너져도 솟아날 구멍이 있다 (Though the heavens fall, there will always be a hole to escape through.)
Here we perceive the Choson Annals’ most important message and a key to predicting Korea’s future.
Throughout their history, the Choson people displayed a fundamental strength of character and an unwavering faith in finding solutions to adversity, even in the aftermath of disaster.
Today’s Koreans, like their Choson predecessors, do not give up, for they believe in persistence rather than failure, and through persistence they will never fail. This is Korea’s future.
Mr. Yang’s Click Into the Hermit Kingdom has provided an enriching adventure into Korea and into life itself. His series stands as a masterpiece of scholarly journalism and it defines The Korea Times as the leading Korean newspaper, and a world-class newspaper.
Sawyer B. Rank is a writer, international trader and human resources director, who visits Korea for business and education. Mr. Rank studies the Korean language and mentality, and he publishes articles in academic journals on those subjects.