Memorable Figures 2nd series from Korea Post

April 9th, 2014

Their beautiful poems written in their mother tongue comforted a people suffering from the sorrow of loss and helped them to stand tall once again. The second in the Memorable Figures Series by Korea Post introduces the national poets, Han Yongun, Lee Yuksa and Yun Dongju who released their pent up anger and the frustration of the people under Japanese colonial rule through their poetry.

Han Yongun was an independence activist who led the March 1st Independence Movement. A thinker, who sharply criticized militarism and a poet who wrote of his ardent love for his country. Born in Hongseong, Chungcheongnam-do in 1879, he embraced Buddhism at the age of 26. Following his faith he became committed to conducting an independence movement thereafter. His writing had the power to touch people and his speeches had such an overwhelming resonance with the audience. In 1926 his collection of poems "The Silence of My Love" which will go down in literary history, was published. He once stated that he would not have even one foundation stone of his house laid toward the south, where the Japanese General Government building was located. He died in 1944 without witnessing the independence of his homeland.

Lee Yuksa was a writer who cried for independence through his poems, essays and critical essays. He was also an independence fighter who was engaged in armed struggle after a period of military training in a military academy established by Uiyeoldan, an independence movement. Born in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do in 1904, he grew up in a resistant region and followed family tradition as the fourteenth in descent from the scholar Lee Hwang. In 1939 he published a poem "Green Grapes" and wrote numerous poems thereafter. He was arrested, detained and imprisoned a total of 17 times during his life time. In the end, he closed his short life of 40 years in a prison attached to the Japanese Consulate General in Beijing.

Yun Dongju was an admirable young man who sang about the independence of his country with lyrical poetic words. His great-grandfather moved to North Jiandao, China with his family. Born in Myeongdong village in Jiandao, he showed a great talent for writing from early childhood, publishing a magazine with his classmates in his elementary school years. When he attended the Sungsil middle school in Pyeongyang, he was forced to worship at the Japanese Shrine. He therefore left the school, which brought him to the notice of the Japanese police. He entered Yonhi College and wrote numerous poems including his poem "Prologue". He later went to study in Japan and was arrested and imprisoned on suspicion of participating in the independence movement in 1943. In February 1945 a telegram was sent to his hometown, Dongju died in prison. He was 27 years old.