Try to Enrich Your Mind and Knowledge
By Kim Yun hee, Tribune Reporter
On September 2nd, Kim Jae-chul, chair of Dongwon Corporation gave a speech on the theme of ‘Change of Paradigm and Blue Ocean Strategies.’ Also he attended the launching ceremony of the CNU-Dongwon Scholarship Foundation. After the ceremony, student reporters were invited to interview him. Tribune found him still full of energy in spite of his hard schedule.
Dongwon Corporation is famous for its top-notch, world-class tuna exports. Tuna cans bearing the Dongwon logo are a very familiar sight. Indeed, you must surely have some memories related to Tuna cans. Whenever we go on a picnic, the tuna can full of delicious food is a constant companion. In fact, it’s really a multi-usage product. Chairman Kim, himself, is also a big fan of tuna. His favorite dish is Kimchijjigae with tuna in it. He even joked that his source of energy comes from tuna.
The Ocean, a Tranquilizer
The deep blue ocean was the workplace where I spent my youth. As you know, our country is just a small bit of land. I have often thought that the only way for Korea to sustain itself is to make use of the endless ocean around it. Because we Koreans live on a peninsula, the ocean is the principal road to the outer world. Due to poor economic circumstances, I had to go to sea when I was a senior student. In contrast to today’s situation, there wasn’t much romance during my college life. My leisure time activity was just sitting on board deck or just staring out at the endless blue horizon. Strange to say, the deep blue sea had an almost magical tranquilizing effect on me, taking away with it all the worries from my life.
The Ocean, the Only Way to Survive and Thrive
Since the ocean consists of 71% of the world’s surface, it is not surprising that it is often termed the natural mother of all living creatures. Our ancestors who lived in the late Backje and Shilla periods sailed to South-Eastern China and occupied lots of land there. Back then the territory known as Korea must have been much bigger than our present-day nation. Reports show that Admiral Jang Bo-go ruled the East China seas in those days. For the people at that time the North-Eastern Sea literally, meant the whole world. He was one of the forerunners who pioneered the philosophy, that to rule the sea meant to rule the world. It’s still an unchanging truth to this very day.
I have often wondered what would have happened if our ancestors had laid claim to the many unknown deserted islands that are scattered about these waters and that still belong to nobody. I have a deep passion for the ocean as I believe our future lies there. This may also stem from the fact that I played the critical role of a maternity nurse in the production of “God of the Sea,” a drama which really sensationalized the sea. In addition, nowadays when I hold a dinner function, instead of simply saying “Cheers,” I proudly proclaim the toast “To the Ocean and the Future.”
Intellectual Hunger Led to Reading Books
When I first met foreigners at sea, I could not communicate with them because we had nothing in common even though I really missed human interaction. Actually, I did not have any knowledge at all of their culture, literature or politics. At first, I tried to comfort myself with the thought that I did not have enough opportunities to cumulate knowledge. However, this unforgettable and shameful experience obviously showed my lack of common sense. I was starving both, mentally and intellectually. At the time when my ship docked anchor in Japan, I rushed to the old-book-selling street, buying a package of classics. In those days, books were sold by the pound. The themes of the books I bought ranged from the arts to philosophy. I read them wherever I went. It is not an exaggeration to say that my knowledge was built during that period. And the knowledge from those books makes me who I am today in this position of society. I still make it a rule to read dozens of books a month.
My Philosophy on Education
Since 1979, when the Dongwon Education Foundation started its service; I have developed a variety of educational programs. As a result, I am in charge of certain professors positions at some universities. I strongly recommend to my beloved young students to have a cooperative mind and not to study simply to obtain good grades. John F. Kennedy, once said, “My fellow Americans! Ask not what your country can do for you; but ask what you can do for your country.” Carve this phrase in your mind, and it will make you successful. CEOs as well as company owners want this sort of person these days.
In my opinion education based on good test results or “testing-oriented education” as it is sometimes called, should be done away with. As you know, life is not lived by sitting exams. There is a maxim that states that when education stands still, so does society.
Good Leader, Great People
I have emphasized the importance of being tolerant as well as having noble convictions. The reason that the Roman Empire existed for over 1,000 years was not because of its great leaders but because of its great common people. Great leader does not spring from unfertile ground. The leader is born and bred by the people. However, we are used to highlighting the misbehaviors or mistakes of a leader instead of looking at the many other good acts and deeds he/she may have done. It is time to be tolerant and to praise one good thing out of nine bad ones. This first small step may pave the way for good leaders in our country.
Also putting an emphasis on tolerance is in the same line with Wha (和). When we look up the Chinese character, it reads so that it can be reversed to the letter ?. There seems to be common understanding that as one’s position changes, so does one’s words. However, the truth is that we should stick-fast to our convictions, which should be unchangeable.
For Development of CNU
It is desirable that a person or a place has character of its own. However, when we stick to our own stubbornly, we confine ourselves. We cannot exist on our own in this globalized, open and pluralized world. So although, I value globalization highly, at the same time we should not underestimate the importance of our own local efforts either. Therefore, it seems inevitable and appropriate that the innovative concept, “Glocalization” springs to mind.
As I mentioned before, when we trade our goods with other countries, then our future will be bright. Thus, we have to make our goods good enough to meet world wide standards. Besides, our culture and minds should be set at a level capable of competing with the rest of the world. The same applies to university. I’m glad to see CNU at the hub of the Gwangju region and Jeonnam province. However, this is not enough. I wish CNU to be the college to which, students from all over the nation aspire. Not until then, will CNU truly become a Glocalized University.
The essence of college life is to enrich you in many ways. Your father’s generation including myself was too poor to have leisure activities or recreation. In those days, we were almost always starving and lived from hand to mouth. Now, you are well-off. Even though some say they are still poor, it is not ultimate poverty. If you look around at some of your close Asian neighbors, you will soon realize that you are lucky to be born in this country.
I think that the time spent as a university student is full of opportunities, where you can invest valuably in your future. Feelings of tiredness and burdens are signs of a constructive livelihood. We can rest in peace forever when we die. So treat tiredness as a pleasure. Before complaining of your circumstances, try to enrich your soul by all given means.