IN SOUTH Korea, November is a month of remembrance. On November 3 and 17, millions of Koreans commemorate the Student Independence Movement Day and Patriotic Martyr’s Day, respectively. On these days, people pay homage to the likes of Yu Gwan-sun, a martyr who died in 1920 while fighting against the Japanese occupation, and Jang Jae-sung, a high school student who led the first student protests in Gwangju. Like these great figures, there are many whose lives and actions have greatly influenced future generations. Thus, *The Yonsei Annals* decided to discover and honor these legacies by asking Yonsei students what past figures they look up to.
Kim Hyo-seon (Jr., Dept. of Architecture)
I admire Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi-British architect who recently passed away in 2016. She was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the equivalent of a Nobel Prize in the architectural world. She gained popularity in South Korea after designing the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. I personally admire her because she destroyed the mainstream architectural style that was confined to right angles and straight lines, and initiated a new paradigm of architecture centered around digital design. She was an Arab living in an English society and a female architect working in a time when female architects were few and far between. But even in those conditions, she was able to pioneer progressive designs and establish her place in architectural history. I think that is very admirable.
If I was able to meet her, I would ask her the following. Because of your unconventional designs that were beyond many of the technological capabilities of the time, you spent most of your life as a “paper architect*.” Did you not worry that your designs would never be built? Do you think they will be built eventually?
I honestly have no idea how she would answer.
Kim Yoon-seop (Soph., Dept. of German Language & Lit.)
I admire Lee Jae-myeong, the martyr. I was browsing the internet and came across a story about how Lee was arrested and executed for stabbing Yi Wan-yong—a pro-Japanese minister who helped Japan annex Korea—when he was only 22 years old. I was deeply touched by his willingness to sacrifice his life for his country at an age younger than mine.
However, not a lot of people remember his name. The names of many people who have sacrificed for our country are being forgotten, and their descendants live a life of hardship. I wonder what Lee Jae-myeong thinks about these realities. I ask this question because if I were in his place, I’d probably regret my actions. However, I think Lee would say that seeing Korea as an independent country is enough to make him satisfied. People who participated in the independence movements put the well-being of the nation and its citizens ahead of theirs, so even if their names and actions are forgotten, I doubt that they’ll regret what they did for the country.
Kim Seung-in (Fresh., UIC, ISED)
Samantha Smith is my role model. When I was in 8th grade, I saw a TV program about a 13-year-old girl who tried to save the world. Concerned about a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union, she wrote a letter to Soviet General Secretary Yuri Andropov, asking him for peace and “not to fight.” As a 16-year-old boy at the time, I thought it to be amazing how a girl younger than me could impact the world and help prevent a nuclear war. At the same time, I questioned my own life and looked up to her as a role model—as someone whose whole life was dedicated to improving society. Because of that one girl, then onwards, I started dreaming of working at the United Nations; I live with the faith that anyone can improve the world.
Even though hearing about her life really left a mark on me years ago, I’m still doubtful of what I can actually achieve. I don’t like new challenges and get easily discouraged by others. So, I’ve always wanted to ask: How did she always have such faith in herself? What pushed her to act so courageously?
Anonymous Interviewee (Jr., Dept. of Social Welfare)
It might seem a little cliché, but I admire one of the most famous people in history, Alfred Nobel. Nobel was a person whose life was full of irony and paradox. He invented dynamite, one of mankind’s most destructive creations, but was tormented by the fact that his invention was used not only as a practical tool but also as a destructive weapon. Upon this contemplation, he dedicated his vast fortune to the establishment of the Nobel Prize and subsequently devoted his life to philanthropy. His character exemplifies the multi-faced nature of human beings—that is why I like him. I also like that he embraced the fact that his impact isn’t limited to his life, but that he can influence others even after death. He endeavored to find lasting ways he could contribute to society.
I want to ask him if he thinks the Nobel Prize would have been created if not for the harms of the dynamite. I think his answer would be a no, as everything in the world has causes and effects, and the past influences the present and future.
Lee Su-bin (Soph., UIC, Economics)
I admire Frida Kahlo. She was a Mexican artist famous for her piece, What the Water Gave Me. Even if people don’t recognize her name, I’m sure they could recognize her self-portrait of a stern-looking woman with a unibrow.
I first got to know her when I was much younger. I was watching the TV and saw a designer who made clothes inspired by Kahlo. I wondered to myself, “Who is this person that is a muse to these stunning clothes?” I looked her up online and have been a fan ever since. Her life was not smooth sailing—she had to lie sick in bed because of a tragic accident, and her husband, Diego Riverda, cheated on her multiple times. She went through numerous miscarriages and spinal diseases and even had her leg amputated. In spite of incessant physical and mental pain, Kahlo did not get discouraged but instead was able to relieve her pain through her paintings. I find her passion and perseverance to be truly extraordinary and inspiring. If I were in her shoes, I wouldn’t have chased my dream to be an artist but would simply wallow in despair. Through her, I was able to reflect on my attitude of complaining even though I’m a perfectly healthy person living a privileged life. Just like Frida Kahlo, I want to live my life passionately and confidently, and so I admire her.
If I could ask one question, I would ask who most influenced her in her art. A lot of artists, designers, and students like me today admire and are inspired by her, so I wonder who it is that our muse, Kahlo, received the most inspiration from.
*Paper architect: Used to describe architects whose drafts never make it off the drawing board