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Saturday,October 24,2020
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"A Freshman's Choice was Love for Dongguk"

It was more than twenty years ago when I met him in my freshman year at Dongguk University.  His name was Sungguk and he studied English Literature with me.  But my memory of him is still as vivid and fresh as if it had happened yesterday.  He spoke with a very strong Kyongsang-do accent and looked asocial. Sungguk was four years older than other freshmen because he worked for a company for two years to earn college money and failed the college entrance exam two times. 

Even though Sungguk was  usually a man of few words, he was  a very active and diligent student in English literature classes.  He got the highest score on the examination of reciting a Shakespearian sonnet and translated Henry James' Daisy Miller  without a dictionary. He was looked up to as a quasi-professor by us, who  were obliged to give up reading Daisy Miller  because it took at least two hours to translate one page of the novel.

Then, one fine day, he called for a class meeting.  Pointing out several problems concerning some professors' teaching methods, he insisted on not attending their classes. He said, "I chose Dongguk University because I thought the professors of English Literature at Dongguk were the best scholars.  I have expected them to encourage us to imagine, to discuss, and to do some creative writing.  But what they have given us is simple reciting, dictating, or mimicry.  Those are the things that we have been given from  elementary to high school. So I ask you to join me in boycotting the classes."

However, the class meeting ended in Sungguk's dismal failure. Few students were on his side although they were sympathetic to what he said.  What was worse for him, some students even applauded the passionate lectures by those professors.  One day he left Dongguk. I have not seen him since.

My memory of his then weird behavior has been rekindled and I have envisaged it in a new way.  He chose Dongguk for a particular reason and he strived to get what he wanted.  I do not think all Dongguk freshmen chose Dongguk for a similar reason.  But what is important is one's yearning to enrich his or her college life as Sungguk did more than twenty years ago on this same campus.   This will be transformed into love for Dongguk.  I hope the Dongguk campus will be invigorated by freshmen's enthusiasm.
 

Kim Ae-ju  leesj117@dongguk.edu

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