By Jeongnam Kim
(Former Senior Presidential Secretary for Education·Culture·Society, World Korean News advisor)
When I was young, we were growing up playing in the middle of things Korea. Of course, it was much later when we realized that those are the things Korean.
For example, when a child is born, a golden string attached with a pepper or charcoal was hung, or our mother practiced a rite of prayers for which a bowl of cold water was prepared for a god in the kitchen as well as a storehouse, and there were a number of traditional children's plays kicking and jumping, the purpose of which was to confirm the growing of a child.
I till a paddy field on the crest of a mountain, and I am certain that a hoe is the farming tools of the most Korean-ness proper to the Korean-style labor. They say that the people who travel through the Manchuria easily recognize the nationality of people there: the one who works with a pick standing, that's a Chinese, and the one who works with a hoe sitting, that is a Korean tribe.
I believe that our people created and developed the ideology of the Hongik-Ingan, or the humanism which was the principle of our national foundation. King Sejong the Great invented Hangeul, the Korean letters, for the poor Korean people who were unable to communicate with letters because they did not have their own alphabet based on the spirit of the Hongik Ingan. Korea was not the only country where people had no means of communication with letters.
The Chiachi tribe of Indonesia is also being influenced with the love of the Hongik In-gan of the Sejong the great. It was a while ago when "The Dictionary of the Korean Philosophy" was published. This book gave a definition of the concepts typical to the Korean people different from not only the Western philosophy but also from China and Japan. It presents a selection of subjects, including 78 terminologies representing the Korean ideology, 79 people, and 59 writings. "Exhilaration" is one of them.
The sense of exhilaration, or excitement, is smeared melted in the life of a Korean, is exploding at any time. One of the most representative example for this Korean exaltation was that which was exploding at the time of street cheering in support of the Korean team when the Korea-Japan World Cup was taking place in 2002. We also so this phenomenon shooting high in the 1970-1980 struggles for our democratization.
Some of our mothers who had their children and husbands incarcerated for their fight for democracy got together and set aside their deep sense of sorrow and struggled, singing: "We would rather die standing like this. That's okay, that's okay." Foreign people, watching these scenes, were moved at the unique form of culture in which they got exhilarated even under sorrow.
I think the Samulnori, or the traditional percussion quartet of the Korean farmers, is one of the models that express the typical Korean sense of exhilaration. I presented Kim Deuk-soo, a leader of Samulnori, 'Exhilaration' as his pseudonym; he is really a man of exhilaration.