FACES OF KOREA - Young Seek Choue

by KyungHee University, 21/02/2012


Dr. Choue, Chancellor of the Kyung Hee University System, passed away on February 18, 2012 at the age of 91. Dr. Choue was born in North Pyeongan Province (in present-day North Korea) in 1921. He received a degree in law from Seoul National University in 1950 and found himself caught up in the chaos of the Korean War the following year. A refugee from the Communist invasion in Busan, Dr. Choue took over the Shinheung Junior College in 1951 and started to rebuild it as Kyung Hee University. “Kyung Hee” refers to the Kyung Hee Palace, the furthest West of the Imperial Palaces, and nearby the Gohwang Mountain beneath which Kyung Hee University stands today. Kyung Hee Palace, as the locus where the Korean King conducted political affairs was destroyed as part of Japanese occupation policy. The buildings for the Kyung Hee Campus in Hoegi-dong are made from rock carved from the Gohwang Mountain.

In 1961, a larger Kyung Hee University System was established, that provides for education from kindergarten through the Ph.D. level. Dr. Choue imagined that education should be a life-long process inseparable from other aspects of human experience.

Dr. Choue argued that “scholarship and peace” should be the central role of the university at a time when most Koreans had little interest in such abstractions. Peace and “peace studies” were critical to Dr. Choue’s vision. He wrote, best replica watches

There are many critical challenges confronting humankind today. The gross imbalance between population and food, the depletion of natural resources, pollution, and the aggrandized vision of the power of science and technology have reached a level of crisis. The distortions that have formed in our social values and norms, the moral decadence that permeates society and dependency on terrorism as a solution to social problems trouble us. And the constant threat of nuclear war, though considerably diminished by the demise of communism in Eastern Europe and Russia, remains quite real. These are only a few of the global problems facing the world today.

Without solutions to these problems, the future of humankind will be in jeopardy. Given this situation, the supreme tasks facing humankind in the 21st century are:
The reconstruction of human society so as to bring about a better world, through the restoration and invigoration of the human spirit.
The reestablishment of mankind, and the human spirit, as the proper master of civilization, through liberation from purposeless science and technology, the deification of technology, and the clinging to obsolete institutions.
The utmost exertion of our efforts to create a new civilization wherein everyone on earth can enjoy happiness and security, through good will and cooperation among nations, taking all humans to be a single family.

The piece-meal approach to solving these problems undertaken today remains insufficient To implement solutions to these problems we must find holistic approaches that take the whole, as well as the parts, into consideration.

As a graduate program international relations that emphasizes peace, philosophy and the liberal arts, and physical education, the Graduate Institute for Peace Studies remains unique in the world. The school offers full scholarships to all students, and thus allows students to focus on their ideals without financial concern.

Dr. Choue also placed emphasis on physical health, serving as a major supporter of Taekwondo. He felt that a strong body was essential part of education and made physical education, which he had training in, part of his university program. He invested heavily to build up the best program in oriental medicine in Korea, and the only program in the world that encourages institutionally the fusion of Western and Eastern medical sciences. Dr. Choue placed great emphasis on the responsibility of the university to society. He envisioned the university’s role as directly linked to the United Nations and the building of a global community. He was the first educational leader to state that education and peace must be part of the same process.

In the 1950s, he started a program to educate farmers in the devastation following the Korean War. Dr. Choue launched another movement, the Global Common Society, in 1965 which strives to instill personal ethics and a global perspective within Korea. He also launched the “Neo-Renaissance Movement” which strove to create a life that was “spiritually beautiful, materially affluent and humanly rewarding.”
He would then launch the “Global Peace Movement” in 1981. As part of this movement, Dr. Choue proposed the establishment of the International Day of Peace at the 36th U.N. General Assembly and, with the support of Costa Rica, the United Nations adopted his proposal.  Dr. Choue was an early advocate for family reunions between North and South Korea, starting his work in 1982 as head of the “Reunion Movement.”
Dr. Choue also proposed, and co-founded, the International Association of University Presidents in 1965 to assure closer global cooperation between universities. He established Korea’s first Graduate School of NGOs and had the foresight to understand the critical role that NGOs would play in this century.

Dr. Choue developed elaborate theories to undergird his activities. He saw the role of the university as being, in part, a preparation for the new realities of a world wherein information technology rendered the modern nation state untenable and a new paradigm would be required. He felt that there was a need for a fundamental restructuring of society in response to these challenges that would encompass all institutions and habits. He also argued that war was caused by the greed of rulers and that a true democracy was the best response.

Dr. Choue married Ms. Oh Jeong-myung in 1943 and they have two sons Choue Jung Won, President of the World Taekwondo Federation, and Choue Inwon, President of Kyung Hee University and two daughters  Choue  Yo Won, Dean of the School of Western and Eastern Medicine, and Choue Mi Yon, Executive Director of the Kyung Hee Educational Foundation.

 

 

For the full obituary text, click here.

 

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