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07/17/2018 Interview > Faculty

Title

Old Poetry Gathered into a Book

Pak Dong-uk's (Korean Language & Literature) new book, No Flower Better than You

김소연

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People say that being a parent is a whole new experience that brings so many unexperienced emotions and thoughts into one's life. Professor Pak Dong-uk (Korean Language & Literature) felt the same as any other father. With his son being born at a relatively late age for him, he was mesmerized by the feelings the little one gave him. He did not stop there but put his overflowing feelings into poem and searched more vigorously through old Korean poems written about family and being a father. Pak recently published his third book on the subject, No Flower Better that You.

The title of this collection of poems sounds as if it is a love story or a love letter and indeed, it is. It all started with a question: Did fathers from the Joseon dynasty really disregard their daughters as portrayed in the dramas? It is widely known that Joseon – a country that later became the Republic of Korea – believed strongly in Confucianism. One commonly held belief was that women deserved fewer rights and respect than they do in contemporary Korean society. Wives who were forced back to work the day after giving birth to a daughter instead of a precious son are commonly portrayed in films and dramas that take place on the pages of our history. But as a father, Pak wondered if that would be true.
 

News H interviewed Pak Dong-uk (Korean Language & Literature) in the Engineering BuildingⅡ. Pak's No Flower Better than You was published on May 18th. 



Using his early morning time before going to his 9 a.m. classes, Pak was able to find dozens of old poems written by fathers to their daughters, filled with nothing but love. “I figured fathers loved their daughters throughout history,” smiled Pak. His work does not necessarily say that all daughters during the Joseon Dynasty were loved as much as the daughters of the contemporary world, but it does point out that ladies in affluent families (enough for their father to be literate) were loved by their fathers, unlike the common misconception. 

 
It has been seven years since my daughter has been born,
I can’t let her go out the doors now.
A crow reminds you playing with ink,
And a bracken reminds of your small hands picking up chestnuts.
You wouldn’t have gotten used to getting ready in the morning with your mother.
Who would comfort you when you cry for dad at night?
Just wait child, for I will hug you the first thing I get back home,
Even before I get my coats off.
<Thinking of my daughter>, Jo Wee-han 
Pak himself defines a father as "a person who does not fall." He remarked that he feels so much more responsibility to his family and that having a child has widened his perspective of the world. “I now treat my students differently, because I keep thinking how precious they must be to their own parents.”
 
Two more books on the topic of married couples will be published later this year.


Pak still has endless topics he would love to write, collect and introduce old poems about. He gave readers of News H a special sneak peek into his upcoming book that will be published later this year. He said “It's about a truely genius poet named Lee Un-jin, who died at the age of 27. He wrote a series of poems with 170 poems in it, and that's all I can reveal now,” smiled Pak. The professor was humorous for the entire interview, yet he had much seriousness in his face.

 
 

Kim So-yun       dash070@hanyang.ac.kr
Photos by Kang Cho-hyun

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