By Jeongnam Kim
(Former Senior Presidential Secretary for Education·Culture·Society, World Korean News advisor)
Yeoyudang is Dasan Jeong Yak-yong's another penname. The year 2012 is the 250th anniversary of his birth, and UNESCO selected Jeong Yak-yong as an individual who should be remembered this year.
Now Dasan Jeong Yak-yong is not only our nation's pride; he was one of the greatest scholars at his time and a paragon of the denizen of this globe. In observance of this great feast, Dasan Scholastic and Culture Foundation led a project under which a complete collection of his writings was published. This is an authentic edition with all his writings fully corrected and edited. This is a milestone we need to celebrate.
Dasan Jeong Yak-yong edited all his more than 700 books, classifying them into seven fields. The first one was composed of 12 books in 25 editions, dealing with poems and literary works, the second the 24 books with 48 editions, those dealing with philosophy, and the third 12 books with 24 editions in the field of etiquettes with regard to the decorum of funerals, memorial observations and so forth.
The fourth, in 2 books and 4 editions, covers the field of music; the fifth in 19 books in 39 editions covers the field of statecraft. The sixth in 4 books of 8 editions handles the geography; the last one in 3 books of 6 editions covers the medicine.
The nationalist scholars who took pains how to save the nation from the valley of despairs for the people under the oppression of the Japanese Empire began to realize the importance of Jeong Yak-yong's statecraft and his scholastic accomplishments after having read his writings shortly before and after 1936, the 100th anniversary of his passing.
Philosophy is the main theme of Dasan's Wissenschaft, and the scholars began to find the true value of Dasan's writings in the philosophy for a new world he was dreaming. Widang Jeong In-bo published his studies on Dasan's ideology and philosophy in a series in the newspaper Dong-a Ilbo in September, 1934, and in August, 1935, his piece of article appealing for the publication of Dada's writings in the magazine "Shin Dong-a." And in June of 1936, he made public to the world the gist of Dasan's scholarship in his long article titled "Dasan's Life." He stressed that "the studies of his life is the very research of our Chosun history and at the same time the studies of our Contemporary philosophy."
It was about this time when Widang Jeong In-bo and Ahh Jai-hong began to lead a concerted effort to have some of Yeoyudang's writings published. This effort contributed to the first publication in print of Dasang's works in 1938. And an abbreviated photographic edition was published in 1962.
In 1970, the publishing house Kyeongin Munhwasa published 6 books of a photographic edition and 5 books of photographic editions of some of his writing not previously published. In 1985, the Yeogang Publishing Company published 20 books of photographic edition, and recently the Korea Classical Book Translation Center published an abbreviated edition of 6 books as part of the consolidated publication program of the classic books.
The recent publication of Yeoyudang's writings is a milestone for all of us to celebrate as a nation and one of the most prominent events in the history of the world's scholarship. On this occasion, it is strongly emphasized that we shall concert all our efforts to make the Yeoyudang's writings UNESCO's Written Culture Heritage.