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German Language and Literature Professor Lim Hong Bae Awarded for Excellence in Research

Mar 19, 2018

Professor LIM Hong Bae
Professor LIM Hong Bae

The Award for Excellence in Research is awarded to professors and members of the faculty of SNU who have contributed to the growth and development of their respective fields thereby raising the prestige of the university. In June of last year, Professor Lim Hong Bae of the Department of German Language and Literature, along with nine other professors, received the award. A student reporter visited Professor Lim to find out more about his achievements and recent projects.

Professor Lim revealed that it was through reading the works of Hungarian literary theorist and philosopher Georg Lukács that he developed an interest to study the works of German writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “I studied a lot of Lukács’ works during my undergraduate years. Lukács appraised Goethe as the greatest German literary figure of the modern era and I was curious to find out why.” Such curiosity eventually developed into an earnest passion for German literature. “German literature feels difficult because it is embedded with strong ideological traditions,” Professor Lim explained, “It is when you are able to read through them and feel and understand the depths of the works alone that you can truly appreciate them. This takes time.”

Professor Lim is also passionate about Korean literature and has made significant contributions to that field, including the publication of a collection of critical essays on the poems of Kim Soo Young and Hwak Seok Young. Asked about his most rewarding and worthwhile project, Professor Lim cited his 2014 publication, along with Yeom Moo Woong, of a collection of poems by Kim Nam in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the poet’s death. Kim Nam Joo’s poems are of particular significance to Korean society by providing not only first-hand testimony of life in prison under the military government of the 1980s and 90s, but also capturing the sentiments of the country during that difficult time. The publication was featured at a celebration of the poet’s life and works held at the Seoul Art Space in Yeonhui-dong. Professor Lim added: “To properly see Western literature from our own country’s perspective we must study our own literature in parallel.”

Currently, Professor Lim is working on Goethe’s concept of world literature and philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer’s hermeneutics. In the future, Professor Lim plans to focus on translation of German works: “I think it is important for foreign literature specialists to not only study the literature but translate it into his or her own country’s language for the public to read.”

Written by Jeeye Hong, SNU English Editor,
Reviewed by Professor Travis Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations,