Woman Chosun’s New Year Interview with Kim Sun-hyang, Chairman of University of North Korean Studies
Woman Chosun’s New Year Interview with Kim Sun-hyang, Chairman of University of North Korean Studies
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  • 승인 2022.03.22 10:46
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Kim Sun-hyang, Chairman of University
of North Korean Studies (UNKS), recently
won the Kim Dal-jin Literature Award
for her poetry collection Golden Rose:
Verse Diary II . Due to her influence
on society as a woman leader and
her literary achievement as a scholar,
Woman Chosun conducted a new year’s
interview with her. Woman Chosun
is a monthly magazine that serializes
articles on influential women based on
their trends, families, and lifestyles. This
interview is even more meaningful in
that it is the first interview for the first
issue of the magazine in 2022. To give
a brief introduction about Chairman
Kim Sun-hyang, she graduated from
Ewha Womans University with a degree
in English Literature, and the Graduate
School of Fairleigh Dickinson University
in the USA. As a professor of English
literature, she worked at Ewha Womans
University, Kyung Hee University, and
Kyungnam University for 38 years. After
retiring from her job as a professor, she
has been serving as the chairman of
UNKS since 2010 and served as the vice
president of the Korean Red Cross. While
undertaking such important roles, she
published two poetry collections. Among
them, the second collection, Golden
Rose: Verse Diary II gave her the honor
of winning the 2021 Kim Dal-jin Special
Literature Award. The following is an
excerpt of the interview between Chairman
Kim Sun-hyang and Woman Chosun.
Kyungnam Times ● 13
Golden Rose: Verse Diary II was published in March 2021
and won the Kim Dal-jin Special Literature Award. Please tell
us how you feel.
I just wanted to write a part of my life and compress it into
the language of rhyme. I kept writing, asking myself the purpose
of writing a personal history. Then I published two collections
of poems. When I thought that I should stop writing, I heard the
news about winning an award; somehow, I was reminded of
an African proverb that says, “The death of an elderly person is
like a library disappearing.” With that phrase, I engraved it in my
heart with a message saying, “Continue writing.”
Verse Diary is a collection consisting of 100 poems selected
from the original 120 poems written from 1998 to 2012. Then,
is Golden Rose: Verse Diary II an extension of the original
Yes, that is correct. Verse Diary is the background of the days
when my husband took the lead in improving inter-Korean relations; including the
inter-Korean summit. Golden Rose was written at such a difficult time that I wanted
time to pass quickly due to various family affairs. Compared to the previous poetry
journal, the poems in Golden Rose give the feeling that ‘a winged chariot of time’ is
chasing from behind.
You are sure to have an affection for all your poems, but what are the poems
that you have a special affection for among them?
In Verse Diary, I chose ten poems and made them into videos with subtitles and
music. Then I uploaded them on YouTube. Among them, I would like to recommend
“A Flower Bouquet from Pyongyang.” In Golden Rose, “Golden Roses” is my second
recommendation. Its English version, of which my feeling was not bad, was put in the
issue of December, 2021 of Kyungnam Times. (For the English version of “A Flower
Bouquet from Pyongyang,” go to page 15.)
I wonder when and how you started keeping your journals in verse.
When I was young, I was impressed by The Diary of Anne Frank. I thought of
recording what I went through during the Korea War, but I thought less about it at
the time. While teaching English poetry at university, I tried to keep a journal in verse,
thinking about the compressed beauty of literature and verse. I believe in the power
of literature and poetry.
In addition to the poetry book, there is another book
published in 2021. It is a photo book called The Days in
Photos, which contains your personal history.
It is a kind of photographic memoir. I look in the memoir
when I do not want to miss the power of memory. I have a
motive for publishing it. I took a picture of the scenery on the
beach of Havana Malecon, Cuba. Then, I found a very frail
tropical tree that I had not seen when the picture was taken.
The tree might want to be remembered in my heart. Like the
tree, I hope that my colleagues and friends who are to live longer than me will be able
to remember the times with a smile by looking at my photo book.
You had been a professor of English literature for 38 years and served as the
vice president of the Korean Red Cross. You are still working as an advisor of the
Korean Red Cross Women's Special Advisory Committee for Volunteers and the
Red Cross's high-value donors’ group. Please tell me where such power comes
Sharing and volunteering are issues and calling of the times. The reason why I
worked for the Red Cross was that I was called an official member of the advisory
committee when my husband became the Minister of Unification. The love and
passion of my colleagues and volunteers made me touched and put more energy into
it. Then, under the motto of ‘invest for a better world,’ Red Cross Honors Club (RCHC)
was formed. Starting with 29 participants in 2016, the number has now increased to
195, and I am still the advisor to the Honors Club, which is successfully sailing.
You mentioned that you were able to accompany your husband, Park Jae Kyu,
president of KU, around the world. I wonder what strength both of you give to
each other and what it means.
By accompanying my husband, I learned courage and adventure from him. In the
1980s, my husband went in and out of the banned communist countries such as China
and the Soviet Union. However, we always keep in mind that we, both, are walking on
the path of educators. As the chairman of UNKS, which my husband started, I still have
a mission to contribute to the development of a specialized institution in North Korean
Tell us what you have been up to and your future plans.
The biggest goal is to continue working diligently at the UNKS. Various students are
studying at UNKS. Journalists, public officials, soldiers, businessmen, foreign students,
Kyungnam Times ● 15
During the second inter-Korean ministerial talks in Pyongyang, it was reported
that the chief delegate of South Korea, Jay (then Minister of Unification), suddenly
disappeared. With Typhoon Prapiroon raging, he traveled eight hours through the
night by train, like ‘007,’ to perform an undisclosed mission to meet with Chairman
Kim Jong Il. On his way back to Seoul, a young girl presented a bouquet of flowers to
him at Sunan International Airport. He brought it home and handed it to me


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