The following is a translation of the fifth chapter of Part V from Yun Naehyeon’s Our Ancient History.
5. Confirming the psychosis of our society
We live in the midst of too many unhealthy (병적 lit. ‘diseased’) phenomena. Wherever one looks there is immoral, disordered and irresponsible behaviour. In the realm of politics where members of the ruling class of our country are gathered, they slander one another, pour insults, grab and fight, forgetting (lit. ‘in spite of’) [any notion of] dignity (체면). Wearing masks [of respectable] people they behave in an utterly unacceptable manner. They do not even know shame. Because they know no shame there is no effect even if one points out their mistakes and criticizes them. Clearly they are not normal [proper] (정상적) people.
In a book written by a foreigner, it pointed to our country as a place where past convicted criminals live proudly (떵떵거리다). That is to say our country is the country which has the most past convicted criminals in the ruling class. Every election it gets reported that amongst the candidates for positions in the National Assembly, regional assemblies or as chiefs of autonomous regions (지자체장) there are many past felons. That these people say they will become political leaders whilst having no shame about their past convictions is truly shameful (파렴치). They have no shame of their past convictions so will have no fear of the law. They are unafraid to go to prison. Considering it is quite common for these past felons to be voted in at elections, there is a problem also with the level of citizens’ consciousness.
A society in which every method of law evasion, illegality, corruption and deviation is practiced, people who get angry at the slightest matter, [constant] rushing regardless of time or place: considering all these, it is difficult to describe our society as normal. We have to say it has an abnormal aspect.
If we examine our ancient history [it can be seen] we were originally a truly talented minjok. Our attitude (자세 lit.’posture’) towards life was incredibly sincere and we had a superior culture. Not only did we love and help one another, [follow] correct etiquette and maintain order, we were a minjok with large hopes for the future, positively living [our lives]. Consequently, the psychosis (병리현상) evident in our society today is not the original nature (모습 lit. ‘shape/form’) of our minjok. Then where did the psychosis come from?
It is said that the [two] main causes bringing about mental (정신적) psychosis whether in individuals or groups, are wounded pride (자존심의 상처) and sense of inferiority (열등의식 lit. ‘inferiority consciousness’). Consequently, in order to find the cause of the psychosis in our society, it is necessary to examine if there were events when our pride was wounded or that resulted in a sense of inferiority.
The largest wounds our minjok has received have been from China and Japan. From the time when Silla begged help from Tang [China] in order to attack Goguryeo and Baekje, we came into the Chinese cultural zone (문화권) at an incredibly fast speed; in the early modern Joseon dynasty era Chinese Confucianism (유학) was adopted as the guiding ideology (지도이념) of politics and scholarship. At the core of the political philosophy of Confucianism is the so-called “all under heaven ideology” (天下思想) which says the Chinese celestial son (천자) must rule ‘all under heaven’ (천하). Consequently, our country [too] naturally had to be ruled by the Chinese celestial son. We had to accept the Chinese celestial son as our celestial son, China as a superior country (상국) and Chinese people as our masters (상전).
As a result of this, those amongst our ancestors with conscious [awareness] had their pride wounded, whilst the common people developed a sense of inferiority. This wounded pride and sense of inferiority was remembered in our subconscious (잠재의식) and transmitted through our genes; when in the real world [a similar event] was again experienced [by subsequent generations], it further accumulated and occupied a [still] strong[er] place in our subconscious. This social climate continued throughout more than 500 years of the Joseon dynasty. If one generation is calculated as thirty years, it survived through seventeen generations
It didn’t end there either. Continuing on from that our minjok experienced the forced occupation by the Japanese Empire. The Japanese Empire distorted our history and culture and so made us seem like our minjok was incapable and plagued by divisions and that we were people always jealous and envious of one another. Without a doubt the wounded pride our minjok received and sense of inferiority would have been enormous. Because we came under the rule of Japan which we had always considered a country significantly behind our own [in terms of cultural development], the wounded pride received and sense of inferiority must have been indescribable.
On 15 August 1945 we welcomed liberation. However, our ancestral land (조국) became two parts and the Korean War (6.25전쟁) which began in 1950 deeply wounded us. As a result we were overwhelmed [by the idea that] ‘our minjok has no means [to better itself] (별수)’, [this] self-deprecation and scorn overwhelmed us. Think about it. To have experienced this kind of history and not develop a psychological disorder (정신질환), that would rather be the strange[r] matter.
Now we must undo (해소) the wounded pride and sense of inferiority that formed over the course [of this historical experience]. We must cleanly wash such things out from our subconsciousness (잠재의식) and place in there positive thoughts filled with confidence. We must strive to realize the fact that we are a talented minjok and the fact that we are a minjok pursuing cohesion (단결) and harmony (화합).
However, it is not enough to simply acknowledge that it is good to [only] think and say such things. More so than normal [healthy] people, patients of schizophrenia have a tendency to be distrustful of all things. Consequently, even if you say “our minjok was originally a talented minjok,” they will not believe it. It is [simply] dismissed (일축하다) as the words (소리) of nationalists (국수주의자).
Consequently, we must absolutely prove it from within history. On this point, too, the work of correctly researching and teaching (교육) our history is extremely important. The researching and teaching of correct history transcends the dimensions of simply correcting history, establishing the minjok identity, or planting pride; we must understanding the fact that it also plays an extremely important role in the treatment for our society’s psychosis. (Yun 2003:183-87)
Yun Naehyeon 윤내현. 2003 (2014 5th reprint). 우리 고대사: 상상에서 현실로 (Our Ancient History: from imagination to reality). Paju, Gyeonggi province: 지식산업사. 231 pages.