[FOUNTAIN]Going crazy means doing great thingsFor the last couple of weeks, the accomplishments of Dr. Hwang Woo-suk have swept the world. Koreans feel they have witnessed a sudden upgrade of their country’s status.
His autobiography, “The Story of My Life,” has helped continue the legend of Dr. Hwang. In his first year in high school, he organized “The Never-Put-Your-Back-Down Club” for students determined to move up from the bottom of the class. He recalled that he hardly slept on his back until he graduated.
When he was in elementary school, he made up his mind that he would spend the rest of his life with cows and become the best in his field. His nickname is “Jjikso,” or “stubborn as a cow.” From this, we can see how his attitude helped turn him into a success.
Dr. Hwang shares some traits with Albert Einstein. Einstein was considered a little slow when he was young, but his sister Maja said he was exceptional. She recalled that when there was a lot of noise, he would lie down on the sofa, pick up a pen and paper, precariously balance an inkwell on the backrest and engross himself in a problem so much that the background noise stimulated rather than disturbed him. Just like Professor Hwang, Einstein decided on his career at an early age, 12, when he received a book on Euclidean geometry.
These anecdotes show that you cannot accomplish great things unless you become crazy. But you don’t need to be a genius to be crazy. Kim Deuk-sin from the Joseon period claimed to have read the biography of Baiyi 113,000 times and the biography of Lao Zi 20,000 times. He wrote that he could not understand the books, because he was not smart enough. And yet, he is the epitome of a student’s reverence for learning.
Statistics show that elementary school students study six hours a day, but college students study only three hours. And elementary school students are not studying voluntarily but under pressure from parents and teachers. This might reflect a society that loves the results but dislikes the hard work.
Instead of praising his research, society needs to embrace Professor Hwang’s message that only those crazy for studying can achieve great academic results.
by Ahn Sung-kyoo
The writer is a deputy political news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.
More in Columns
Time for pragmatism
How do we spell relief?
A battle over fiscal control
Time for a ceasefire