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Tuesday,July 23,2019
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A Life Devoted to Human Rights and Democracy
Is there anybody who has had a  longer relationship with Dongguk University than Han Sang-bum? Han Sang-bum is an emeritus professor in the DU Law Department   and also is the head commissioner of Presidential Truth Commission on Suspicious Deaths.
In 1958, he passed an exam to be an assistant professor and was the youngest person among successful candidates. Since then, he has been deeply connected with DU.
"I was born before the 1945 liberation of Korea. So I learned the Japanese language and letter first and then studied Korean after. I experienced the rule of Japanese imperialism, the reign of America and the partition of the Korean peninsula." Prof. Han experienced many hardships during those confusing times. In the 1960s, he opposed an agreement between Korea and Japan and "SamSeonGyeHeon (constitutional revision of election for the third term)." In the 1970s, he fought against "YuShinCheJe (Revitalizing Reforms system)." As a result, his life was tough. However, he overcame all the difficulties.
Prof. Han received university education around the time of the cessation of hostilities. In spite of the complexity of those times, he studied philosophy and politics sincerely. At one time, he even lived in a Buddhist temple to better study them. During this period, he had time to reflect on his conduct by looking back upon past days. "In my university days, there were few books translated into Korean well. So I read the books translated into Japanese or English," he said. And Prof. Han always took pleasure in reading since childhood, and  read so many books in the DU library  that there were no more books to read.  About five years ago, he was singled out as a person who bought a great many books in Kyobo bookstore.
In the 1980s, Prof. Han drank his troubles away. He often drank  when he felt melancholy, gloomy and vexed. So he injured his health and was diagnosed that he would soon die. After the doctor's diagnosis, he quit drinking and smoking. Then he recovered his health. "I thought that I gained a second life and felt like a new man," he said.
"It's very important to truthfully know about our modern and present history. Students need to not only study a university curriculum but also broaden their outlook on present day Korea. Students must learn about the roots of our nation and history," he advised DU students. "If we clear off the vestiges of Japan, the result will be democracy. Then we will have true human rights through the democracy. I passed my whole life at that work," he added.
As in the words "There is no present time without the past," we can have a bright future when we are conscious of our past.
Times have changed, but for more than 40 years Prof. Han has trod the path of learning with a straight posture. The Post hopes that his passion for scholarship will succeed him.

Park Jee-young  wldud@dongguk.edu

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