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Dongguk LiteratureHow Can We Regain Past Glory?

Have you ever heard the phrase "Dongguk Literature?" It is a widely used phrase among Donggukians and alludes to the many highly respected Dongguk literary figures who have had a profound influence on Korean Lit. and Lang. studies.  
 Actually, until the 1970s', students who wanted to be literary men dreamed of being Donggukians.
Moreover, DU was without peer in literature and language arts for a century, and produced many talented men who were leaders of Korean Literature and Liberal Arts.
 DU Literature's influence followed the downward path of the University's reputation as a whole from the 80s'.  Donggukians, for example, stopped winning literary prizes. What is the major cause and what is the solution? The Dongguk Post assayed how to regain our lost reputation and the real meaning of "Dongguk Literature."................................................Ed.    
Part. 1 Dongguk Literature:
Splendid Past and Shrunken Present 
Myung-Jin School was the first name of DU in 1906 and the name was changed to Hye-Wha-Jeon-Mun School in 1940. Our school grew to university status in 1946 and became, Dongguk University.   
During that era, there were two great DU literary masters, Han Yong-woon and Seo Jung-joo. These two Literary men are considered as the creators of DU Literature.
 "Han Yong-woon embodied Dongguk Literature and the tradition was enlarged and deepened by Seo Jung-joo, who was Mr. Han's younger scholar.
When Cho Ji-hoon's turn came, he urged an awakening and consciousness of Korean classical literature. This grand stream and tradition of Dongguk Literature became a basic contribution to the formation of Korean Literature." (Dongguk Poetries, published in 1954)
 Cho Ji-hoon, Cho Jung-rae, Shin Kyung-lim, Kim Dal-jin and Lee Bum-sun were representative DU Literary men between 1940 and 1960. And Yang Ju-dong, Lee Byung-ki, Park Jong-hwa, Jung Ji-yong, Kim Ki-lim, Kwon Sang-ro and Byun Young-man were professors at DU in that era.
DU was a hall of learning of famed and highly-learned professors and talented students.
 "Until the 1970s, one out of three literary men in Korea were connected to DU. For that reason, many talented high school students who wanted to be  literary men were eager to enter DU's Korean Lang. and Lit. Dept." (Professor Kim Mu-bong, Dept. of Korean Lang. and Lit., currently at DU)
In the 1980s, however, DU's literary influence shrunk rapidly. Because there were lots of newly established Creative Writing departments in several colleges and other universities established many Korean Lang. and Lit. departments. The Creative Writing departments taught direct writing skills and this method was effective. Many students from schools using this method, such as Seoul Institute of Arts, began to win literary prizes.
 As the colleges, that established Creative Writing departments gained new influence in the literature field, fewer DU students mounted the literary rostrum . Thus the number of influential DU literary men continued to shrink into the 1990s.    To cope with this decline, DU established the Creative Writing (CW) Department in 1996; it was attached to the Department of Korean Lang. and Lit. (KLL). From 2001, DU separated the two departments for the purpose of enforcing and training CW students. As a result, DU created the conditions necessary to cope with the new mood in two ways: KLL (Criticism, Studying Korean Language) and CW (Do utmost for mounting the literary rostrum).  
 Likewise, Dongguk Literature stands at the important crossroad of past glory and vicissitudes. Let's consider in detail what we Donggukians have to do to equal past alumni's splendid achievements?

DU VISION
*What do the each subjects in school have to do? 
-School Authority
 Of course raising the budget for the two departments should be executed. For example, there is a program called "Literature Travel" in autumn. It is an important outdoor study for experiencing the backgrounds of our literary men's novels and poetry. But the program lacks funds. The students want more financial support.
-Professor
"Studying under existing erudite professors is obviously a joy, but we need more various teachers who are engaged in creative writing now," said, Ko Eun-ju, (winner of the Dae-San Undergraduate Literature Contest prize, Novel section)
Most of the students pointed out this problem, too. It seems that students have a firm belief that those sorts of new teachers would give real assistance and help them improve their writing.
-Students
"If you are really eager to be a writer of literature, it would be better to experience all kinds of literature; poetry, the novel, drama, classics, criticism theory, Korean literature as a freshman and sophomore. And then choose your field after hitting the related books," said Nam Sang-wook, (winner of the Dae-San Undergraduate Literature Contest prize, Drama section)  
  He also added that we ought to develop relations with other universities through literary meetings.   
 The effects of the establishment of the CW department showed up slowly. So it would be better to challenge the Literary Contest in spring with confidence. 
- Alumni Literary Men
There is a program called "Writing School." During four nights and five days in summer, most of the KLL and CW students and alumni literary men gather in the suburbs.  
During the program, 200~300 alumni will lodged with their juniors and will pass on their most vivid memories and anecdotes of them. Many students said the program was the most memorable one during their four-years at DU.                 
"Writing School" is certainly good. But Dongguk Literary Men's Association, the biggest alumni union, should make more efforts to gather alumni for supporting juniors. Also, more alumni should visit DU at important times such as Freshmen Greeting Composition Contest in April.  
But the literary society is relatively individual field. If you want to take lessons from respectable alumni, meet them when time permits.  
- The way to attract promising future students
"The entrance examination system should be changed in order to attract talented high school students who are interested in literature. The existing selecting system is no good. We must offer special scholarships to those who win composition contests. And we have to reconsider adopting the new selecting method, which enforces a practical writing test, especially in the Dept. of CW," said Prof. Kim Mu-bong.

 


Shin Dong-kyu  korea232@dongguk.edu

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