Ham Sok-Hon Gone but Not Forgotten

Article excerpt

There is a Korean saying that when a tiger dies, it leaves behind its skin, but when people die, they leave behind their names. Though many are remembered years after they are gone, there are precious few whose names are inscribed in the scrolls of history for eternity.

However, Ham Sok-hon (1901~1989), an prominent personage of Korean Protestantism, is undoubtedly one of the chosen few whose name and teachings are revered and remembered by scores of devotees after his passing.

This was apparent by the large crowd that gathered at the centennial celebration of Ham's birth to commemorate the deceased mentor on Tuesday at the Press Center in central Seoul.

Hosted by a company devoted to commemorating Ham, the hour-long ceremony included a recitation of a congratulatory message from President Kim Dae- jung, a slide show of pictures taken of Ham during his lifetime, and eulogies pronounced by Lee Moon-young, the chairman of the company, and Kim Dong-gill, a former professor of Yonsei University.

President Kim lauded the visionary as ``a spiritual guide'' and Prof. Kim called him ``a person who belongs to the ages,'' adding that he, along with countless others, could not have become the person he was if it were not for Ham, his mentor.

March 13 of this year marked the 100th anniversary of Ham's birth.

In celebration of this occasion, a CD-ROM containing all the issues of the monthly ``Voice of the People'' -- from the first edition of April 1970 to the 158th edition of January/February 2001 -- was released on that day.

Based on Ham's unique grass-roots ideology, Ham founded the monthly in 1970 so as to boldly voice social and political criticisms during the oppressive era of the '70s.

This CD-ROM contains all the parts of the journal that were censored by the government in the past.

As Ham was also chosen as ``This Month's Cultural Figure'' for April by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, many events will be held to remember the much-revered visionary next month.

First of all, a booklet titled ``Who is Ham Sok-hon?'' will be published in April, and collections of his posthumous works and essays on his ideology, as well as his biography, will be published throughout the year.

In addition, photographs capturing Ham amidst his daily activities and examples of his calligraphy will be displayed throughout the month of April at the Hanmadang Gallery, central Seoul. An academic symposium on Ham's ideas and thoughts is scheduled for April 21 at the YWCA auditorium in Myongdong as well.

Also, in June, a monument dedicated to Ham, inscribed with a poem and details of his life, will be erected at the Marronnier Park in Taehangno.

For those in the provinces, lectures will be given in seven cities around the nation from May till June. …