[Viewpoint] Documenting today for tomorrow

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[Viewpoint] Documenting today for tomorrow

Uigwe is a collection of records documenting all of the events occurring in important rites and ceremonies of the royal court in the Joseon Dynasty. It is a significant cultural document that sets a standard for similar incidents that can happen in the future.

Uigwe is gaining international recognition in part because it’s been entered into Unesco’s Memory of the World register, but it is also a perfect combination of documentation and utility.

The collection is significant because it shows the procedures followed in royal events and documents the outcome. It is precise in its details and stands as a symbol for future generations.

There are various reasons why the Joseon Dynasty kept records through Uigwe. The records describe a will to excel in the establishment and execution of policies, and there is a solemn sense of history and accountability about them.

Moreover, Uigwe has practical applications in helping to minimize trial and error and maximize the national interest when similar projects are carried out in the future.

Korea is going through an unwanted economic slump due to the global economic crisis. In order to overcome the crisis, the government is aggressively promoting large-scale projects on a national level.

However, interpretations of these projects run at cross purposes, both politically and economically, and there are varying theories about their effects. However, one thing is certain. The face of the country and the lives of its citizens will be tremendously different in the end. The changes could be as extreme as the before-and-after photos in cosmetic surgery advertisements.

Therefore, records of all the major projects the government plans to execute must be kept. The landscape of Korea is likely to change. Records such as documents and blueprints produced in the course of the country’s reconstruction are certainly important, but video documentation of the entire process is essential as well.

If the battles of the 21st century are not documented, future generations won’t be able to understand the scope of the changes that this generation is going through.

Through documentation, future generations should be able to determine whether the Green New Deal project is indeed the best or whether it has turned crisis into opportunity as the government has claimed or is just another civil engineering project as opponents assert.

Future generations of Koreans can learn from this kind of documentation and save themselves a great deal of unnecessary trial and error. It is what a proper country should do for its future citizens. Only then will the nation continue to advance.

Records give an account of the facts. There should be no prejudice or distortion. The only things that should be recorded in this process are facts. It is necessary to document the transformation of the nation under the Green New Deal not because the current efforts to overcome the economic crisis are correct. It is actually quite the opposite.

We make a record of something based on the condition that we could have made a wrong choice. By leaving an objective record of what we have discussed and implemented, we demonstrate our pride and confidence in the choices we have made.

This gives us a clean conscience in the eyes of history. If having a video record allows the public and Korea’s future generations to have an accurate understanding of the Green New Deal project, it is unlikely that the project will fail.

The record, if created, will also become an important cultural legacy that will allow our descendants to respect and be proud of their ancestors.

Recording a state project is not a strategy for promoting a specific person or a particular political party. It is a nation’s historic duty to make physical records in service of future generations.

Trillions of won will be spent over the next few years on developing and transforming the nation’s landscape. Recording the project will only cost a fraction of the enormous budget involved. Failing to come up with a budget to finance the project to document the Green New Deal is nothing more than giving up our duty.

*The writer is a professor of library and information science at Chung-Ang University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Nam Young-joon
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