Cha Byukp; Dolbegae Publishing; 391 pp., 20,000 won
Ideological strife is still a problem in South Korea. However, it is nothing compared to the sectarian rift among top bureaucrats during the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910). Top government officials and scholars could be degraded to treasonous villains overnight, depending on which sect grabbed power.
Jeong Yak-yong (1762-1836), one of the greatest philosophers and thinkers of the late Joseon era, lived a tumultuous life. The great scholar in pragmatic Confucianism or “practical learning” was expelled to a remote village in 1801, after King Jeongjo (1752-1800) passed away abruptly.
Jeong (penname Dasan) lived in a village on the southwestern coast for about 18 years during which he wrote as many as 600 treatises.
There have been many books about Dasan. However, this one is different from others as the author is not a scholar but a photographer.
He followed in the footsteps of the scholar to portray the latter half of his life, capturing every aspect of Dasan’s life in 90 photographs.
He walked all the roads Dasan had previously walked. This book is the outcome of his pilgrimage and a tribute to the great scholar.
Kim Dong-ho; Munhakdongnae: 376 pp., 16,000 won
The 15th Pusan (Busan) International Film Festival bids farewell to director Kim Dong-ho, the founding director that helped thrust the event to new international heights as the Cannes of Asia.
In commemoration of his time in the cinema industry, Kim provides a catalogue of 20 years of travel while making the festival circuit rounds, providing a glimpse into the goings-on of major and independent events alike.
Though unable to cover them all ― the director expresses regret at leaving out 30 festivals including Tribeca ― Kim manages to go from the laidback Udine Far East Film Festival to the prestigious Venice event, hopping across five continents and 40 countries.
Combining personal stories (he first visited Florence in 1976) to regional travel information and festival statistics (this year’s Hong Kong event listed 65 world premieres), Kim’s travelogues serve as a touching record of his work, but also a helpful guide to the personalities of the world’s cine-offerings. Available in both Korean and English.
Japan’s Emperor Comes to Korea
Kwon O-mun; Hyunmun Media: 320 pp., 13,000 won
Japan is a close but distant country for Korea due to historical conflicts. This book analyzes past incidents and pending issues between the two countries to usher in a new era of reconciliation.
The author cites a controversial remark by Japan’s emperor Akihito in 2001, who said “I, on my part, feel a certain kinship with Korea, given the fact that it is recorded in the Chronicles of Japan that the mother of Emperor Kammu was of the line of King Muryeong of Baekje.” It was known to be the first time that a Japanese emperor publicly acknowledged Korean blood in the imperial line.
The book, however, superficially deals with the political and historical agendas and approaches solutions emotionally and nationalistically.
The writer makes suggestions that aren’t new ― he urges Japan’s emperor, who is a spiritual and symbolic ruler, to come to Korea to openly address sensitive issues: Japan’s worshipping war criminals at Yasukuni Shrine, controversial interpretations of history and its claim over the Dokdo islets.
...Yes, Like a Flower
Won Kyung; Doban: 152 pp., 10,000 won
Monk Won Kyung, director of Simgokam Temple, did not intend to write a book of poems. In fact, it was a publisher who first felt an affinity for the Buddhist and the potential in Won Kyung’s words. The result is a collection of simplistic, full and beautiful writings ― emotional in scale, minimal in excess.
Broken into four categories, the book depicts the life of a monk in ``Song of Realization’’ to the subjects that touch all man on a universal level in ``Deep Longing of the Heart.’’ ``Sharing Tea Together’’ offers words of contentment and happiness while ``Story of Simgokam’’ shares vignettes of daily happenings at the temple. The book concludes with more in-depth, enlightening prose on monks from Simgokam.
Accompanied with beautiful illustrations, the poems work their way through nature and human relationships, painting clear landscapes of Won Kyung’s thoughts: ``Although I am still/the wind calls you./To say it is lonely.’’