When Quarterly Changbi was first published 30 years ago, it drew enormous interest and enthusiasm from society, incommensurate with its modest scale. Yet hardly anyone would have expected that it would survive and grow to see this day. I myself, rather resolutely, ended the first issue’s editorial by saying: “How will I take such a long challenging journey, and with how many people will I share the pains of this journey? I trust that I could withstand the hardships only by gathering like-minded people and finding new talents, and that I could approach the promised land [of fulfilling the mission of the magazine] only while enduring them.” Nevertheless, I certainly did not have any plan or make any specific decision that I would hold onto this project for more than 30 years. My resolution was simply one that suited the moment, as well as a bit of youthful bravado.
Thus, the phrase “the pains of the journey” was just a rhetorical expression to me at that time, and I had no idea that I would have to endure so many crises to see this magazine’s survival, and even a period of its non-existence. The fact that the Quarterly Changbi has survived to experience its 30th anniversary today, despite all those threats, means that we have had the collaboration and support of like-minded people, as expected—in fact, far more than our expectations. In addition, since we might even say that those who imposed hardships on us also contributed a great deal to our achievement, we realize that we are greatly indebted to everyone.
General Trends: A Small One and a Big One
At any rate, the magazine Changjak-gwa-bipyeong, now more familiar as Changbi, and its publishing company, Changbi Publishers, has now proudly become a foothold in an intellectual society and, to a degree, has created a small “general trend” in Korean literature and society in general. I call it by this contradictory term “small general trend” because, although we have indeed formed a current that might be called a “general trend,” in comparison to before when our presence wasn’t substantial at all, we are still occupying only a small corner in our world, which is expanding and whirling around more and more each day. In fact, in some sense, we might be in a situation in which we need to resolve that we will go against this current, even more than in our early days. At that time, we were weak because we absolutely lacked capabilities, and because outside conditions frequently blocked our discussions for “the stance of creation and resistance” that we were pursuing. And yet, at that time, a potential desire of intellectuals for the project of the Quarterly Changbi was everywhere, to be all the more easily rallied because of the situation. In comparison, despite comparatively and tremendously increased human resources, a much more solid material base, and the social reputation we have gained so far, nowadays a trend exists in which intellectuals and general readers somehow tend to look away from the tasks we want to take on and the problems we raise.
As is often pointed out, this trend to look away from the tasks we raise has increased remarkably in the 1990s, when capitalist globalization has been accelerating. However, even in the 1980s, when various new activist theories were spreading widely, it was the authorities who paid the most attention to the Quarterly Changbi. A trend to neglect Changbi had already begun by both activists and the general public, for differing reasons: the former because we were too close to the mainstream and the latter because we were too far from it. Furthermore, the trend of neglecting Changbi for these various reasons has found a suitable environment more recently, as the 1987 June Uprising failed to create a civilian government that would rectify past wrongdoings, even though it succeeded in achieving a degree of democratization in which the authorities loosened their blockade on Changbi, allowing the resumption of our discontinued quarterly.
The globalization of capitalism is a grand and general trend, however, which did not begin recently. In addition, the small general trend that Changbi has achieved actually cannot be imagined without material basis, which was allowed by capitalist economic development and the civic freedom that citizens achieved in the process. In this sense, it would be neither accurate nor wise to consider this “bigger general trend” of the globalization of capitalism pressing down on a “smaller general trend” as a simple oppressor. This larger trend deserves its grand name, as we would be sure to fail if we simply denied it, and as we cannot help but be consumed as a simple commodity by it, if we submissively comply with it. Therefore, there is no other right way to respond to it than as a circus of both adapting to and going against it. We had a degree of basic understanding of this situation as early as the magazine’s beginning, although that awareness might have been a bit immature.
However, it is our unchanged belief that this general trend of the globalization of capitalism we have to go against will not be the ultimate general trend for humanity. This belief of ours was always far from any belief in a linear progress of history. We also have never blindly trusted the concept of “dialectical” or “spiral” progress. Whether spiral or based on a three-step “thesis-antithesis-synthesis,” a “dialectic” can be no more than another superstition, if it presupposes the mechanical predetermination of a major awakening of all and everyone. Thus, our belief is a belief accompanied by sincere scholarly doubts and the moment-by-moment, diligent resolutions of an activist. At any rate, if we look at what is now considered the current general trend, with even a little bit of insight into the current situation, and if we have even a slight resolution to practice actions immediately disadvantageous to us, isn’t it obvious that the so-called general trend currently sweeping the world cannot be an ultimate one? Unless we accept that the destruction of humanity is predetermined, wouldn’t it rather be rational to believe that it is obvious that a world in which everything can be bought and sold, cannot continue as is, and that this chaotic globalization is a process in which we are actually preparing for the global renewal of human civilization?
It may sound like ineffective wordplay to distinguish a large general trend from a small one. I talk about the latter only as a way of wisely applying what Changbi has achieved, without losing the balance between pride in our 30 years of hard work and a cool-headed awareness of its limitations, and as a way of reminding ourselves of the need to think about both the large trend we have to go against and this other smaller trend that we should trust and enrich.
A Few Crises
People often ask me these days how I personally feel about the 30thsup> anniversary of Changbi. Although those fragmentary thoughts above might serve as my personal feelings, in fact, my everyday tasks are so all-consuming and my trust and doubts for Changbi’s future are both so urgent, as they have always been, that it is really impossible to reminisce about the past and talk about my sentiments. Nevertheless, I have spoken a little bit about my personal feelings this year, whether in response to a few interview requests by the media or in participating in interviews planned by Changbi Munhwa. Here, I would like to think about a few crises that Changbi had to undergo, apart from my personal feelings.
Above I mentioned my “youthful bravado” in the editorial article I wrote for the inaugural issue of Changbi. That immaturity was embodied not only in the article’s elitist tendency and downplaying of tradition, but also in my idle calculation of the burden on myself, as the manager of a magazine enterprise. Fortunately, thanks to many like-minded people’s support, beyond my expectation, the enterprise went relatively smoothly. For myself, personally, through challenging experiences in practical affairs that continued to come upon me, I learned that specific daily tasks were great work that one should take on. As for my initial prejudices, I would correct them quite a bit by the time I wrote “Toward a Citizens’ Literature” in 1969. After that article, I temporarily quit the work of Changbi and went abroad to study. I am still not sure if that decision was a brave one, during the period when the political situation in Korea was growing more and more dire, ahead of Park Chung Hee’s three-term presidency constitutional amendment that year. At any rate, although Changbi took that opportunity to be established as an independent publishing company, my easy-going thoughts also contributed to the harsh sufferings that my friends in Korea and the magazine had to endure.
It was primarily thanks to my colleagues, led by Mr. Yom Mu-woong, who took on the work of the magazine, that Changbi successfully overcame this three-year crisis. And, in turn, it was also thanks to numerous like-minded people who helped us both knowingly and unknowingly. Through this period of hardship, Changbi achieved a quality of perseverance of a different nature than it had the first three and a half years under my helm, and improved its constitution in a way that most likely would have been difficult under the leadership of an American-educated English scholar like myself. It was during this period that Changbi gathered new talent, such as Shin Kyung-rim, Hwang Sok-yong, Kim Yoon-soo, and Kang Man-gil, and that its relationship with poet Kim Jiha and economist Park Hyun-chae began and deepened, although their works had not been published in Changbi yet. The contribution I might claim to have made to these developments, if any, was only that I continued what they achieved after I returned to Korea. It was only thanks to this smooth transition and another restructuring that Changbi could eke out survival during the full-blown period of oppression and hardship that began with the declaration of Emergency Measure #1 in January 1974, until the forced discontinuation of the magazine by the new military junta in July 1980.
Here I will not go into the details of the many crises we had to undergo until that discontinuation in 1980. I believe many of our readers still vividly remember them, which they weathered together with us. They will also recall them through articles contributed to the “Changbi and Me in Our Times” feature in this issue as well as the chronology of Changbi included in the same feature.
It was natural that Changbi’s ordeal did not stop even after the magazine’s discontinuation, and Changbi certainly wasn’t the only one that had to endure this ordeal. However, it is true that we contributed to our ordeal not only by continuing our original project with the expansion of our book publication work after the discontinuation of the magazine, but also by trying to revive the magazine through various means. As is well known, the most dramatic of all ordeals was when Changbi Publishers’ registration was revoked in 1985 after our publication of a non-periodical volume, the Quarterly Changbi (No. 57). Thanks to the help and support of so many like-minded people, from all walks of life within and outside of Korea, we could resume publication of books under the new name of Changjak-sa. This publishing company put out another non-periodical volume, Changbi 1987 (a title a bit more cautious than the 1985 attempt) in the summer of 1987, at the height of our society’s struggle against the military regime. It was quite fortunate that the June 29 Declaration was made just before the publication of this volume; but it was nevertheless another daring attempt on our part, when we were greatly apprehensive about its consequences.
Innovation That Respects the Old
I go over these facts not just to reminisce about them, which I said I wouldn’t. I want to say that it was due to our own persistent efforts during the years of Changbi’s forced discontinuation to fill that emptiness, that resulted in the creation of today’s “small” general trend, since 1988, when the republication of Changbi was finally allowed, and therefore we had not much trouble filling that eight-year gap.
According to my thinking, the time after Changbi’s re-publication is a new stage in Korean minjok literature, which is currently ongoing. In other words, minjok literature is now in a period when it should cope with the reality in a very different way, and yet a period when it should continue the concept and cause of this literature. In particular, what we urgently need are a new understanding of our reality of national division, this theory’s long-time concern; a more careful and comprehensive understanding of people’s everyday lives in our age; a deeper insight into world literature and the nature of art through a comprehensive revision of the theory of artistic and literary realism; and, further, an exploration into the methods for responding properly to the general trend of globalization in capitalist modernity, methods based on Korean and East-Asian subjectivity, but with global influences and implications. In order to take on these tasks, we at Changbi have continued to refine and renew our efforts since our re-publication, in fact, since “non-periodical” issue 57. Nevertheless, we hear these days, even from intellectuals favorably inclined to us, that Changbi is old-fashioned and worn-out. What should we make of this criticism?
If we respond by dismissing it, by blaming it on an unfair world and the lack of understanding on the part of these critics, Changbi would be really an incorrigibly outdated magazine! Given the universal limits to all men’s capabilities, it is true that Changbi has not overcome all its problems, including habits we have accumulated while managing to survive various crises of the previous era, as well as an underdevelopment that we have experienced due to our deprived opportunities. Yet it is our belief that it is a misguided trend to treat most issues of concern to Changbi as old-fashioned, except for those such as modernity and an East-Asian perspective, which are currently popular. Also, regarding criticisms that Changbi has not led the intellectual discussion on ecological, women’s, and science-and-technology issues, we would like to remind readers that Changbi dealt with the ecological crisis in the opening roundtable of its 70th issue (winter 1990) and our first opening roundtable about women’s issues was published in the late 1970s (52nd issue), although we nevertheless regret our shortcomings in these areas. Regarding the popular impression that Changbi has been slow to tackle these issues, we would also like to say that we have wanted to be careful not to simplify these newly emerging issues by excluding from their discussions national- and class-based approaches to them, which have been fundamental to any issues to us from the beginning.
In short, we would like to pursue a magazine consistently, both keeping it constant and renewing it constantly. This of course is not as easy a task as it may sound; however, when one thinks about it, change without a consistency would be just an easy modification of the old, rather than a truly new creation; while a consistence without renewals would be a fossilization rather than the maintenance of a living organism. I believe this is the meaning of the phrase “innovation that respects the old” in the calligraphy work by Professor Lee Woo-sung, the phrase originating from Pak Ji-won, the great 18th century Confucian scholar of the “Practical Learning” movement. Regarding the lesson of this phrase, we might think at this juncture about what the original principle was when “the old” was first born.
The New Stage of Changbi
Although I said that, in general, Korean literature and society is going through the same stage since our revived publication, for Changbi this 30thsup> anniversary should certainly be the beginning of a new stage. Above all, the fact that we celebrate a 30thsup> anniversary itself offers a special opportunity to reflect on our work. Also, “a magazine, both constant and renewing constantly” would be empty rhetoric if we do not enact epoch-making change and progress, after receiving so much direct and indirect advice in the process of publishing this anniversary issue and conducting anniversary events.
In addition, our society is clearly facing an important new phase, after various changes occurring last year. It is a phase the contours of which are likely to be decided during this year, while last year’s changes might not have ended the new stage after the June Uprising in 1987. Currently, the media is focusing entirely on the prospect of the April general elections, interconnected with the president’s so-called “Setting History Right” project. Indeed, the upcoming 15th general election is of enormous historic importance. However, we should not forget the fact that until the president’s decision to (partially) liquidate the legacies of the 5th and 6th republics, there was a nationwide protest movement against the non-prosecution disposition about the May 18 Rebellion suspects, even before the Roh Tae-woo Slush Fund Incident. Also, despite the lack of interest by our media, which is caught up with the whirlwind of domestic politics, we need to be alert to the development in the state of affairs in the Korean peninsula after the progress in North Korea-US relationships after the October 1994 Agreed Framework and the 1995 floods in North Korea.
It is also clear that major incidents that occurred in particular last year were not isolated incidents of the collapse of a specific bridge, a specific construction project, or a certain department store. Would it be enough, though, to go a step further and consider them examples of “Korean sloppiness” and “a lack of world-class standards”? Those might be somewhat accurate diagnoses; but couldn’t those of us who can listen also hear the sound of the old world collapsing, a sound that urges us to wake up to a new world? Certainly, we might be exposed to the danger of hearing things and seeing illusions in this time of confusion and transition. However, it would be seeing another illusion if we, in the name of science, stick only to what is apparent. Now is the time for each individual to press on with their beliefs and doubts and to take the road of sincere studies and true explorations.
We feel a special sense of obligation as a magazine that has formed a small general trend in a corner of East Asia; because everything ultimately depends on the opening up of a new world through each and every individual’s studies and knowledge, while the result of the upcoming election and the state of affairs on the Korean peninsula and in the world are also important. In fact, in order for an election not to be trickery to deceive, it has to be a work that produces a result akin to a miracle every time, an event where each and every voter gathers their own small cares and it suddenly results in the decision of the fate of a country. So far, although an election in our country is closer to a trick than a miracle, we now have reached a point where we might be able to conduct an election much more like a true one than in the past, in terms of the fairness of rules and of voters’ awareness. Therefore, what we urgently need, both to have a better result in the upcoming general election and in the next year’s presidential election, and to be fully capable of handling the results of the elections, is for a particular kind of subject to be established widely in our society. This subject is a people who accurately judge what to comply with and what to go against in the trends of the times and to fully know their own situation and their realistic power. It is our hope and belief that, if a magazine that has endured a tumultuous 30 years, while trying to contribute to the formation of such subjects and spread them, succeeds in self-renewal once again, it could have an enormous and explosive power, incomparable to its size, in our society.
In fact, domestic and foreign colleagues, in particular, intellectuals in countries considered advanced, such as the U.S., Western European countries, and Japan, envy Changbi for its size, that is, its circulation and the material foundation of its publishing company. This might of course mean that there are serious problems in the cultural climates of those advanced capitalist countries, rather than that Changbi’s circulation, which is a less than 20,000, represents a large number. At any rate, colleagues in those countries find it hard to believe that a magazine of Changbi’s caliber—a “difficult” magazine as it is often claimed to be—has such a large circulation. (In fact, they also find it surprising and enviable for many Korean poetry books to be sold often in the hundreds of thousands.) Thus, the first concrete strategy that we at Changbi decide to adopt in order to open a new stage for itself is the work of expanding this precious foundation, which we have carefully built, in the present, fortunate environment. To do this, besides the short-term campaign we are currently waging to double Changbi’s circulation, we are determined to become renewed in our editorial board, contributors, subject matter, and approaches, on a long-term basis.
At the same time, we do not entertain illusions that in the current social climate Changbi’s circulation, and, in particular, circulation through bookstore, will suddenly leap, as long as our goal is to maintain our stance of daily innovation based on our constant principles, as we mentioned earlier, and to maintain Changbi’s character as a quarterly. (In the 1990s, there was an occasion when our circulation suddenly increased due to the authorities’ persecution of an article; but of course this was exceptional and generally undesirable.) Rather, we’re clearly seeing the overall situation to be one where it is becoming unfavorable for a magazine like Changbi to gain popularity. Nevertheless, since we have been fortunate enough to secure this foothold, and since we know that the current trend, one that is not yet an ultimate general trend, is of a nature particularly unstable and changeable in the Korean peninsula, we believe that we might as well hold the ambitious dream of continuously expanding our readership, without lowering our standards.
On the Charge that Changbi is a “Difficult” Magazine
Setting aside briefly the matter of specific measures for a new stage of Changbi, I’d like to consider the familiar criticism against Changbi: that it is a difficult magazine. Further, I’m not sure if the fact that my writings are often subject to the same kind of criticism is favorable or detrimental to my credibility as someone addressing this issue. However, the problem is serious, as I, a habitual target of such a criticism, also find some articles in Changbi to be difficult. This might sound like a confirmation of this criticism, but the matter is not so simple. I often encounter people who do not find the articles that are difficult for me to read particularly difficult themselves, but who instead shake their heads over my writings, which I felt confident I took care to make readable. To them, my writings were too difficult to read. It could of course mean that I am lacking perspective in this matter.
However, while I’m open to this possibility, I also would like to consider that what is easy or difficult is not such an obvious matter. I do acknowledge that Changbi needs to address this criticism seriously and to try improving on the matter, as there is truth to it. But I also would like to more seriously consider an issue or two regarding this matter. Above all, although this might sound like interpreting the matter to our own advantage, I wonder if this criticism, aimed particularly at Changbi, has more to do with the fact that various and numerous readers read it with keen interest and affection, rather than because it is relatively more challenging than other magazines. In general, magazines—and, in particular, quarterlies and scholarly journals—that aim to achieve a certain intellectual level in Korea cannot avoid being somewhat difficult on two different fronts. First, many times not only do the articles deal with material unfamiliar to us, but they also draw arguments from common Western theories, or else from Eastern or Korean traditional thought—which is even further from Koreans today than Western theories. No wonder then that, despite a writer’s efforts to make their writing accessible, some preparation and effort from most readers is still required.
Secondly, however, the articles are sometimes hard to read simply because the writer did not write clearly and well enough. Unfortunately, this is too often true in our intellectual circles—and Changbi is no exception. Any writer, including myself, cannot easily deny this. Yet we promise that we will make a more concerted effort to approach our readers through not only a more careful selection of writers and materials, but also a more careful handling of the procedures of publication, including discussions with the writers and the editing and proofreading stages of manuscripts.
Nevertheless, an aspect in Changbi’s difficulty cannot be explained away by this kind of general argument. Besides cases in which the writing remains difficult despite the best efforts to make it easier, or where the difficulty could be corrected through editorial efforts by the writer or editor, there may indeed be more articles that are seemingly ambiguous in Changbi than in other magazines. These articles may make readers wonder whether the author actually tried to make easy material harder to read or to make difficult material easier but unsuccessfully. For example, these kinds of questions have been raised about Changbi’s argument for “the double task of achieving and overcoming modernity” or the “theory of division system.” About the former, it was subject to criticism that it was ambiguous, in that it was neither acceptance nor rejection of modernity; and about the latter, that it sometimes sounded like a tedious repetition of the plain truth, and other times like a theory either too complex or too empty—in fact, there were occasions that the latter was claimed to be both too complex and empty! Perhaps, as a theorist of the latter, I might not be qualified as an objective judge in this controversy around Changbi’s difficulty.
Regardless of whether I am qualified or not, however, this is not the occasion to engage in a lengthy discussion of the division system theory. Yet, as an article’s difficulty depends not only on the writer’s ability and the “objective” difficulty of the material or theme, but also on another important factor, that is, how much the writing corresponds to the reader’s interests in it, we might consider how and to what interests of our readers this theory corresponds. As repeatedly discussed in Changbi, and as most—albeit certainly, not all—editorial board members agree, although the South and North Korean societies are quite different, they are also interconnected with common structure that could be called a “division system,” and that this phenomenon specific to the Korean peninsula also operates as an important part of the world system. Accordingly, we are of the opinion that the problems in South Korean society should be solved not only through the everyday efforts of the South Korean people, but that they are also related to the transformation of the division system, which process in turn can be smoothly carried out only when the prospect of and strategies for the transformation of the world system are in place. By nature, this is an absolutely complex structure, and thus cannot help giving the impression to readers who have little or no interest in its various components and practical tasks, that the writer makes his argument difficult by bringing up unnecessary factors. For example, on one hand, to those who are interested only in the world revolution, South Korean revolution, or Korean reunification, and consider the transformation of either South or North Korean society as of secondary importance, Changbi’s discussion of the division system could feel like merely suspect wordplay. On the other hand, those who focus solely on the transformation of South Korean society, while ignoring or rejecting that South Korean society is part of the division system as well as world system, would complain that we misread the general trend and harm the focus of transformation in our society by bringing up unnecessary factors.
However, would either of those complaints make understanding of our reality and its problems easier for us? Didn’t we acutely learn that democratization in South Korean society and inter-Korean relationships were interconnected during the time when early attempts at change under the Kim Young-sam government disappeared? In comparison, the division-system theory not only explains how this drifting and disappearance of reforms are directly related to the current government’s unprincipled policies toward the North and its unpredictable anti-North actions. In addition, it also points out how responsibility for the failure in the above-mentioned reforms cannot be blamed on either Korean government, because of the systemic nature of division, as well as how outside interests—in particular, those of the U.S.—play a major role, due to the reality that the division system is a part of the world system. As for the belated renewal of reform attempts in late-1995, it is certainly clear that the Korean people’s ardent desire for the banishing of the legacies of military dictatorship played a decisive role, beyond the president’s personal resolution and persistence. Even so, the current government’s renewal of reform would have also been impossible without the agreement regarding denuclearization between North Korea and the U.S. in October 1994.
Yet the future of these reform attempts that resumed with so much difficulty is extremely unclear. Above all, we cannot help worrying about the reactionary forces’ rapid advance and the confusion within the reform camp during the general election. In addition, everyone knows that regional division, a chronic problem in our society, currently works as a highly threatening factor. Nevertheless, we haven’t been able to counteract this regional division appropriately and decisively, partly because of a simplistic understanding of our national division, in which regional division and the regional leadership structure are considered to be a problem on a level different from division, even while extreme rightwing ideas are considered part of the division-based ideology.
In comparison, in the concept of a division-system, although we acknowledge that extreme rightwing anti-communism is the most powerful ideology for division, we also suggest that an opposite ideology plays the same role in the North. We also understand that there is a possibility that extreme rightwing ideology will play a distinctively lesser role among various ideologies in favor of division than now, as the division system advances. As was pointed out in the editorial of the last issue of Changbi, in the current stage of division, “extreme rightwing anti-communism and regionalism are like two horses of a the carriage of the division system and regime continuation.” From this perspective, it is not coincidental that regionalism began to worsen in 1987, when the rightwing military dictatorship somewhat abated. It is also natural that the greatest threat to reform work resumed in the late 1995 and emerged in the form of a rivalry of regions (including the current government’s regionalism). In the end, this means that only the creation and spreading of a minjung subject that understands the complex and fluid nature of the division system can transform people’s desires for reform and a nationwide desire for unification into an explosive power.
Changbi Issue #91 and Afterward
In either politics or the making of a magazine, a difficult task is to put plans into action. There were some things that did not work out as planned in the making of this 30thsup> anniversary issue of Changbi, despite our careful planning. Fortunately, however, for the feature “On the 30thsup> Anniversary of the Quarterly Changbi” two junior scholars, Lim Hong-Bae and Kim Dong-choon, each contributed an article in which they caringly and cool-headedly evaluated Changbi’s achievements in their respective fields of literature and the social sciences. In addition, there are 15 contributions from our society’s elders, like Pak Hyeong-gyu and Park Wansuh, to readers both equal to and younger than Changbi in age. All of them contain brief memories, advice, and feelings. In addition, Kwon Seong-il, another scholar, born in 1966 like Changbi, contributed an article that analyzes the result of a survey he conducted among Changbi subscribers for this occasion. This article not only should be interesting to our readers, but also offer food for thought to the editors through both its encouragements and warnings.
As in the 25th anniversary issue, we did not include fiction in the current issue, as we published a companion 25th-anniversary collection of new short stories (this book will be distributed free to all our subscribers and guests attending the celebration event on February 27). Instead, we expanded the poetry section by creating another feature and inviting contributions of new poems from 32 writers. Since we have two features in the current issue, it became quite thick, even after limiting literary criticism to the aforementioned contributions by Lim Hong-Bae and the “Quarterly Comments on Fiction” by Lim Kyu-chan, in addition to a piece of literary criticism by Lee Dong Soon. Although we had previously decided to make Changbi thinner, in order to reduce the burden on our readers, more than for manufacturing costs, we thought that it would be meaningful to provide a somewhat heftier volume, since it is a celebratory occasion.
In particular, we worked carefully to obtain articles that deal with Changbi’s particular concerns, although they might be addressing different subject matters. This resulted in three exciting articles: “Response of Confucian Classical Studies to Western Knowledge in the 19th Century” by Lim Hyung-taek, dealing with profound thought explorations by two Confucian scholars, Jeong Yak-yong and Sim Dae-yun; “Marx and Wallerstein” by Yoo Jae-keon, which continues thought explorations in our times through a comparison of Marx, Braudel, and Wallerstein, and Yi Eun-jin’s article examining the role of industrial labor unions in our national economy after the launching of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions last year. In addition, we believe that the translation of “Empowering Technology: The Exploration of Cyberspace” by Julian Stallabrass, although possibly challenging to absorb, shows our will to explore new fields, while following our editorial policy of introducing international articles that could fill the gap in domestic scenes. We urge our readers to seriously consider it and we are announcing that we will follow up on this cutting-edge field.
Readers’ responses to our book reviews and brief reviews have been uneven so far. This is perhaps due to the uneven quality of the reviews, despite our efforts, as well as because readers sometimes do not pay particular attention to reviews. However, to contribute to the creation of a desirable reading climate, and for Changbi to maintain its character as providing comprehensive information, we will continue making concerted efforts in this area, as we did this time. We are delighted to see our efforts materialize in five book reviews, including “Classical Learning and Modern Wisdom” by Professor Lee Ki-baek, an in-depth and comprehensive examination of the scholarly achievements of Prof. Yi U-seong, and eight brief reviews, including that by Prof. Yu Hong-june.
Although we are not sure if our readers have noticed, we decided to try a new approach to films in the last issue, by changing the “Film Criticism” corner to “Essay on Film.” We felt that an essay broadly appealing to Changbi readers’ intellectual interests would be more meaningful to our readers than a movie review, which can be easily found in film magazines or newspaper entertainment sections. We expect our readers’ favorable response to Cheon Ji-hyeon’s essay in the current issue. At the same time, we are planning more frequent publication of articles about film and other audio-visual media than film, considering the growing importance of these media in our lives today. We will also continue to make a rigorous effort to find and publish articles about more traditional genres in art and music, which can be enjoyed by our literature readers of a high caliber.
Readers of this issue must have also noticed our will for change from the cover. Of course we expect varied responses to this new design, ranging from responses that it is too radical, to questioning if this represents a real change (as responses within Changbi staff also have been varied). At any rate, we came up with this new design that reminds us of the old cover before the forced discontinuation of Changbi, rather than the recent cover after its renewed publication, in step with our intention to both continue and renew, with a professional designer’s help. We are certainly aware that practicing the intention embodied in this new cover in the contents of the magazine is of foremost importance.
Whether we succeed or fail will depend on the process of publishing each regular issue, after the dust settles from the anniversary events, rather than how this current issue looks. To prepare for successful future issues, we formed a corporate body two years ago, and invited on many younger editorial board members and advisory board members last year. Earlier this year, we reinforced the administrative-staff-led management of the company through changes in personnel.
As for the magazine itself, together with the inauguration of Choi Won-sik as the executive editor, we changed our system from one in which the editor-in-chief takes care of all aspects of the magazine, to a bifurcated system, in which younger editorial board members can be more actively involved. I believe this system should gradually transition to a system led more by the younger generation editorial board members headed by the executive editor than the current two-track system. This is also a natural development, which an older generation should accept if it does not want to become overbearing. In the composition of the editorial advisory board, a sort of generational shift occurred with Professor Lee Pil-ryul in the field of natural sciences, following Professor Kim Yung Sik’s strong urging. Further, we would like our readers to know that there are a growing number of younger scholars and critics who have participated in Changbi’s projects, although they may not hold official titles at Changbi.
Last but not the least, in remembering the favors of numerous people who have guarded, grown, and supported Changbi, to reach its 30thsup> anniversary, I myself am not sure how I could repay all the favors throughout the years. I sometimes excuse myself, saying that I’ve benefitted so much from everyone and everything in the world that it is impossible for me to personally visit and thank all of them; but I am aware that I appear to be impersonal and ungrateful at times. I would like to take advantage of this editorial to sincerely apologize and to thank these people. May they grant many times more favors—not to me, but to Changbi, for the next 30 years and beyond!
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