One person’s dream changed the World History

How far a person’s dream can go?
Can a person’s dream change Korea’s national image?

If you want to know the answer, listen to this story. A Korean person’s dream has the power to inscribe the 5000 years of Korean history in the minds of people all over the world. A Korean person’s action can change the image of Koreans in the minds of the six billion people of the world. A Korean person’s dedication can bring the whole country together to realize that great vision. 

Recognition of the BBC, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Time Magazine

The Greatest Invention of the Past Thousand Years that Changed the World, Movable Metal Type Printing

It was the force that led to the spread of knowledge among common people and the decline of the privileged class. It made the common people into the leaders of information and knowledge. The foundation for the Renaissance, the reformation, the civil revolution and the industrial revolution was Movable Metal Type Printing. 

The inventor of the world’s first movable metal type was widely thought to be Gutenberg. However, a Korean woman rewrote the history of movable metal type. By this woman, Korea’s documentary heritage and its glorious history were presented to the world. 

Dr. Byungsun Park Went to France in 1955
Became the first female Korean student in France

With the dream of becoming an educator, she entered the College of Education at Seoul National University. After graduation, she decided to go to France to study. Before the journey, her teacher made an earnest request of her.

“There are Korean cultural properties that were taken by France during the French invasion in 1866. Please find out what they are and where they are.”

Her study in France began with this request deeply in her mind. For 13 years starting in 1967, she worked as a librarian at the National Library of France.
She worked for the National Library of France for one reason. Korean cultural assets were at the National Library of France. One day, a colleague showed her a very old book from the Orient. 

There was a title clearly printed on the cover: Jikji.
And the number, ‘1377’

Jikji, A French art collector, Henri Vever, bought it for 180 francs, and donated it to the National Library of France around 1950.  However, Jikji is an invaluable cultural asset of Korea, not France. It is Korea’s earliest extant book printed with movable metal type during the Goryeo Dynasty.

Jikji, short for Baekunhwasang Chorok Buljo Jikji Simche Yojol,  was written in 1372 during the reign of King Gongmin.

Jikji was printed at the Hungdeok Temple, Cheongju, Korea, in 1377.

On the last page of the book, she found a remarkable fact.

Printing Method of Jikji: Printed by using letter blocks that were made from metal casting

To prove to the world that Jikji was printed with movable metal type, Dr. Park began experimenting with metal type printing. After ceaseless efforts, she found that metal type printing leaves traces of metal on the edges of printed words.

Finally, her dream came true to change the history of world documentary heritage. Jikji was proven to have been printed with movable metal type in 1377, predating the Gutenberg Bible by over 70 years. In 1972, Jikji was presented in Paris through UNESCO’s International Book Year exhibition.

The value of Jikji was widely proclaimed as the world’s oldest extant book printed with movable metal type. Her dream became the pride of Korea. In 2001, Jikji was included on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.

Republic of Korea, Her discovery revealed Korea, as a country of creation for its invention of movable metal type, which is regarded as the most important technology that changed the history of mankind.

People across the world are discovering a new side of Korea through ‘Jikji’.  The international community began to aware that Korea had made this great invention before the West. The mother of Jikji, Dr. Byungsun Park, and her dream will be remembered forever by Koreans and people across the world.

Later, her dream became realized through the return of books that belonged to Oegyujanggak, the royal library annex of the Joseon Dynasty. The Oegyujanggak Royal Archives Korean cultural assets that were looted by France during the French invasion in 1866. These books recorded in great detail the royal and national events of the Joseon Dynasty that lasted for over 500 years, which is rare in world history. 

Korea’s Documentary Heritage of International Importance 
In 1975, a large volume of old books, written in classical Chinese, were found in the National Library of France.

Dr. Park recognized them as Oegyujanggak books, and informed Korean reporters in Paris of this discovery.

As the news about these archives spread, she was accused of being a Korean spy and resigned with dishonor.

However, her efforts were received by the Korean public. 

Korean NGOs and the public began demanding the return of the Oegyujanggak royal archives from France.

“Please give us back our soul” Koreans’ message that moved the French people
“These archives belong to the Korean memory, history and soul.
I had confidence that these books should be in Korea, not here”
- Former French Culture Minister, Jack Lang

On May 27, 2011, the Oegyujanggak royal archives finally returned home 145 years after they left.

Dr. Byungsun Park, Her Dream, Return of the Oegyujanggak Royal Archives

Her dream was made possible by meeting the wishes of the Korean people.
The dream came true after 20 years of persistent efforts.

There is no future for a people who lose their history. There is no hope for a country where their ancestors’ dream fails to be passed onto their descendents.
Thanks to Dr. Park’s efforts to achieve her dream, pieces of Korean history were brought back together.  Her dream inspires the young generation of Korea in the 21st century.  There are still over 140 thousand pieces of Korean cultural heritage scattered around the world.

The treasures of Korean history and the souls of the Korean people are yet to return. That means that there are 140 thousand new dreams to be achieved.
Now is the time for you to have this great dream. On June 11, 2011, Dr. Byungsun Park, age 83 Despite her cancer pain, she attended the welcome ceremony for the return of the Oegyujanggak Royal Archives.

The Korean cultural properties were returned after 145 years, although still on a ‘LEASE’ basis. At the moment when her dream was realized, she delivered a message to young Koreans.

“To have these books permanently stay in Korea,
 there is a need for collective efforts from now on
to remove the ‘lease’ condition.”

“I ask you to make all efforts
so that these books will stay in Korea without ever going back to France.”

This 83-year-old woman has another dream.

“Next year, I will look for official documents about the Korean independence movements that the French consulate sent to the home country during the Japanese Occupation Period. So, I will help you complete the history of that period.”

Now, have a greater and bigger dream.

Through your dream, your country’s history will be revealed to the world.  Through your dream, seventy million Koreans will unite to create hope for the six billion people of the world.

Then, your dream will come true and inspire bigger dreams among future generations.  Spread greater and bigger dreams on the global stage of world history. Korea still has a lot in its history to share with the world. 

Voluntary Agency Network of Korea VANK is looking for great young Koreans  to imprint this message in the hearts of people around the world.

Leave A Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.