Manhae Han Yong-un (1879.8.29. ~ 1944.6.29.)
Manhae was born in Chungcheongnam-do, Hongseong.
Manhae Han Yong-un is a representative monk of modern Buddhism. He is also called a poet, independence, Buddhist reformist, revolutionary and social activist.
In 1910, when Korea lost its sovereignty, there was a movement within the Buddhist community to place Korean temples under Japanese control. Han Yong-un participated in anti-Japanese movements and engaged in missionary activities to prevent the Japanese government’s policy of suppressing the Korean religion.
In 1918, Han Yong-un pondered the ways to easily introduce Buddhism to the public during difficult times for Buddhism, and published the Buddhist magazine <Yusim> and made efforts to preserve national consciousness through his writings.
In 1919, during the March 1st Movement, he was one of the 33 representatives who signed the Korean Declaration of Independence and voluntarily surrendered to the authorities.
On March 11th of that year, a Japanese prosecutor asked him after an interrogation, “Will you continue to engage in Korea’s independence movement in the future?” He replied resolutely, “Yes, I will continue to do so no matter what. Independence will definitely be achieved.”
In July 1919, while imprisoned in Seodaemun Prison, he wrote a lengthy essay entitled <Overview of thoughts on Joseon Independence> in response to the prosecutor’s interrogation. In the essay, he presented four arguments:
- He declared that the principle of national self-determination is just and the source of happiness for all humanity, and that it cannot be broken by external interference.
- He analyzed the historical realism and future ideals of the national strength, global trends and conditions for national delf-determination that motivated the Korean Declaration of Independence.
- He exposed the ambition of the invading and militaristic Japan and declared that Korean independence is a sacred obligation.
- He recognized that an independent Korea is a dignified independent country that possesses essential elements such as land, people, culture.
This essay was published in the 『Dongnip Sinmun (The Independent)』, which was being published in Shanghai on November 4, 1919.
After serving three years in prison, Han Yong-un was released and actively led the “Joseon Productive Society Movement” in 1923, advocating for growing the strength of the economy through simple and frugal living.
In January 1927, he participated in the establishment of the “Shinganhoe ” publishing company and was elected as the chairman of the Seoul branch in June.
In 1929, he organized a nationwide people’s rally to expand the “Gwangju student movement.”
<Nim-ui Chimmuk (Your Silence)>
The poem is connected by the structure of “Separation-Conflict-Hope-Reunion.”
The era of separation from “Nim (You/Dear)” is the era of silence and loss. Therefore, the time of reunion that will eventually come is explained as the time of true paradise recovery, the era of liberation. In this sense, Han Yong-un’s poetry can be understood as poetry of waiting and hope.
Manhae Han Yong-un, the representative monk and independence activist in Korea. Now it is your turn to complete what he had dreamed of for the better future!