In recreating history, accuracy matters
The people of Andong faithfully follow old ancestor worship rituals and genealogy. But the public’s impression of the region is negative. The residents of Andong may disagree, but when people from other regions think of Andong, they think of conservatism, stubbornness, intolerance and patriarchy.
During a visit to Andong a few years ago, I met a scholar who had settled in the region. When I told him about the prejudice towards Andong, he told me a story about taking a group of college students from Andong to Seoul. The students were appalled to see a woman smoking a cigarette and told him she deserved a lecture. He discouraged them from starting an argument, but they were still displeased.
The negative impressions of Andong may change with the opening of a new theme park centered on Korean history. Recently, the Korean Studies Advancement Center, located on Toegye Road, Dosan County, announced a plan to open a “story” theme park. It is envisioned as a warehouse where diaries and documents from the Joseon period will be recreated in modern language and presented with pictures. It has an investment of 300 million won ($267,000) to create 600 different stories. Each story has been translated, edited and expanded and then put into a database and web service for a mere 500,000 won.
Choi Hee-su of MNC Maru, who created the theme park, is a historian who received a Ph.D. with research into the regional government system in Goguryeo. He understands the value of history and found a way to translate it for the general public, much as the “Harry Potter” series and the “Lord of the Rings” series have done. Both series use mythology and folklore but also draw on historical events.
Just like the story park, translated and edited classics should become more accessible to the public. These days, we have a diverse variety of fictional programs based on historical events, from the dramas “Queen Mother Insu” and “The Deep Rooted Tree” to the movie “The King and the Clown.” But many of the writers of these programs have been criticized for distorting history. If the writers used their imaginations to create programs based on accurate historical materials, they would avoid the criticism.
Our ancestors recorded history in great detail and we have neglected their gifts for too long. If we utilize our historical heritage, we would be able to nurture an industry that brings both fun and money.
by Noh Jae-hyun
* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.