By Jeongnam Kim
(Former Senior Presidential Secretary for Education·Culture·Society, World Korean News advisor)
In religion, the human being is viewed as an existence between God and animals. However, human beings constantly strive to move from a low echelon to a higher plateau, from being an animal toward sanctity.
A saint is one who comes nearest God, and one who is most animalistic is called "a human not worth a dog." Our Dan-Gun mythology is philosophical and an example of the science of humanities in that it very clearly tells us about the real existential identity of our humanness and where we stand.
However, the pivotal message of the Dan-Gun mythology is Hongik Ingan, or humanity. Father Hwan Wong observed his Son Hwan In and determined that his son was qualified to rule the earth with humanism. And only then decided to let him go down to the earth and exert his governance. He built the nation with a view to extending benefits to the human beings far and wide and make the world worth living in. What does the expression "extend benefits far and wide mean?"
I think that the one who has interpreted the spirit of "Hongik Ingan" most clearly was Kim Koo, or Baik Bom(his pen name) in "My Hope," at the end of his autobiography, or "Baik Bom Diary." He didn't pointedly make a mention of what Hongik Ingan is, but he explained lucidly about how the spirit should be put into practice.
Our Country as I want: I want that our country will become a country most beautiful in the world. It's not that I want our country to be most powerful. My heart had been broken when we were attacked by a foreign country, and therefore I do not want our country to invade another country. It is ample for us to become as rich as we enjoy an abundant life, and our national power to be as capable of defending our nation. The only thing I want to have in unlimited supply is the high power of culture. Because cultural power makes us happy and gives happiness to other people.
What we lack as human beings is not military power or economic power. It is okay for us to have as much power of natural science as possible, but based on the general condition of humanity at the present time, our natural science is enough to make us live comfortably. The fundamental reason of the present unhappiness is the deficit of righteousness and the shortage of love. If these two elements are fully developed, we human beings will be able to live comfortably with the present materialistic power. Culture, and culture only will enhance the spirit of the people.
I do not want our people to replicate the culture of other people. I want our people to be the source of a new culture of the highest caliber, to make this our objective and become its model. I want the people of the world to view the achievement in our country and be grateful to our endeavors toward that objective. I believe this is the ideal of Hongik Ingan, or the nation-building ideology of Dan-Gun, the founder of our nation.
We are capable of achieving this objective, thanks to our dexterity, spirit and our discipline, born in the past through the suffering from the First and Second World Wars. This is the Zeitgeist of the new age we are faced with. Don't you see before your eyes that our nation is about to make an appearance on the main stage as a central figure?