1966년 라몬 막사이사이상 사회공익부문 수상
(원문출처: 라몬 막사이사이상 공식 홈페이지)
BIOGRAPHY of Kim Yong-Ki
Farmer-educator and philosopher, KIM YONG-KI has ardently demonstrated to his fellow Korean farmers that life, even on a meager plot of poor land, can be joyful and productive. His mission has been to bring dynamic spiritual and material change to the rural areas of his country.
KIM YONG-KI was born on September 5, 1908 at Nungnai-ri, Wabu-myun, a rural community of Yangjoo County, Kyoungi Province, in the central area of the Korean Peninsula. His parents, Kim Choon Kyo and Kim Kong Yoon, were farmers of modest circumstances. Simple in life style but well read, his father had attended a Presbyterian school and his mother was a devout, practical Christian. Taught to regard hard work as a virtue, the five sons, of whom YONC-KI was the fourth, began as small boys to help their parents in the fields.
At the age of seven, YONG-KI was enrolled in the village school in Yangjoo County where the curriculum consisted of "Chinese learning." Here the boy was for six years an avid student of the Chinese classics. From 1921 to 1925 he continued the study of Chinese classics at home while helping on the family farm. By 1925 he had saved enough money to enter the private Kwangdong Middle School in Yangjoo County where, for his secondary education, he specialized in farming. Upon graduation in 1929 he visited China, remaining for nearly a year to observe and study Chinese philosophy which had greatly influenced Korean culture.
From the study of Confucius and Lao Tze KIM gained, among other values, a strong sense of right relationship within a family and among all people and an intensely felt appreciation of nature. At the same time steeped at home in Christian teaching, he developed a sensitive awareness of human dignity, righteousness, love of God and the social need of service to others.
A thoughtful lad, KIM resolved while in middle school to dedicate his life to the improvement of the rural communities of his country. Cognizant that more than two-thirds of the population of Korea were engaged in farming, and intimately familiar with the rigorous conditions under which most of his fellow farmers lived, his personal goal became raising the economic and educational status of farmers.
KIM YONG-KI was 23 when he inherited from his father his first small farm in Bongan, Kyoungi, not far from his parental home. By then convinced that a truly Christian farmer, through example and hard work, could influence and change the plight of the common man on the soil, he dreamed of building a model village. To this end he set out to develop a farm that would provide training for other farmers as well as help instill in them a zeal for a new way of life. The farm was wasteland so he elected to plant sweet potatoes because they would grow in poor soil and under any climatic conditions. Men, women and even children could easily learn to plant and cultivate them, and they were nutritious. To set a spiritual example KIM built a simple, nondenominational Christian church on his property. KIM firmly believes, as he later wrote, that "a material society will not bring happiness without a spiritual society."
In the previous year KIM had married Kim Bong Hi, who became his partner in the enterprise. First, the idealistic young husband sent his bride, who had received only a primary education, to Seoul for further schooling.
The Bongan farm flourished in the 15 years from 1930 to 1945 and KIM became one of Korea's best sweet potato farmers. Living was never easy but there was satisfaction for the family in the produce of their labor. The KIMs' three sons and two daughters, like their father, began as small children to share in the family work. After seven years of experimentation, KIM developed a method for storing sweet potatoes for 12 months which highly trained Japanese farmers had failed to do. The achievement called him to the attention of Japanese officials and the secretary to the Japanese Governor of Korea paid a visit to his farm. This success confirmed his decision to be a "studying farmer." Since then he has continuously experimented to increase production and up-grade field crops, vegetables, fruits, and livestock, and better preserve and store produce.
Meticulously setting aside time to read, write, and think about the direction of his effort, KIM was introduced by a friend at the age of 30 to the works of Rabindranath Tagore, the gifted Indian philosopher, writer and teacher. From such sources came renewed inspiration.
Anxious to extend his demonstration work KIM, in 1945, sold the Bongan farm and bought in Koyang County of Kyoungi Province another piece of wasteland where he established an entirely new settlement. As the land was brought into production, a school was opened for farmers and, as on each farm that he developed, always a small, nondenominational Christian church was built. The experiences at Bongan and Koyang and his ideas for rural Korea were summarized by KIM in a small volume entitled Model Village, published in 1946.
After five years, KIM sold the Koyang farm and again "ventured for victory" on a piece of marginal mountain land in Yong-in County of Kyoungi which became the core of a third "model" village. There KIM organized an Evangelical Farming Institute and a Farmers' Evangelical Junior School. This farm was sold after three years to intimate friends in the community who are not farmers but have continued the Evangelical Junior School using KIM's principles.
Having proven to himself that his theories were practical, KIM wanted now to be near the capital so that more people would see what could be done with unproductive land. The 10,000 pyung plot (roughly three and one-half hectares) he purchased in 1954 was locally known as "Whangsan," or "Wasted Hill." Ideally for KIM, it was located only some 40 minutes by local bus from Seoul, near the southeast boundary of the city in the administrative district of Pungsan Ri.
Proposing to name the small tract "Canaan," after the Biblical land of milk and honey, KIM had first to persuade his children to work with him to establish this "heaven on earth." The years of developing the other farms on marginal land had been hard and more strenuous years would be ahead while a livelihood was wrested from this barren place. All eventually agreed and the family began their new life on the wasted hill with only one tent and some sheep.
Hardship followed upon hardship, but sustained by KIM's indomitable belief in God and his conviction that Korea must improve agriculture and rural life before the nation could prosper, the family persevered, managing to provide for themselves and, in time, building a thriving farm. Of the 10,000 pyung some 8,000 pyung were farmed; on the remaining hilly, pine tree-covered land domestic animals were kept. Again, a nondenominational church was built on the property where, in lieu of a pastor, KIM served as Elder. Soon a familiar feature in the small, neat church was Elder KIM, exhorting his family and some 100 villagers: "God gave us the land that we have to cultivate. God gave us the revelations that we have to learn. God gave us the mission to be really alive."
As the venture prospered, Canaan Farm became a model for the countryside—here was visible evidence of what could be done. Eventually, the example of the farm was so compelling that young community leaders and farmers eager to learn from KIM began to visit and ask his advice. In February 1962 Canaan Farm was productive enough to permit KIM to arrange his home as a school for the young people who wanted to come to study and practice the successful agricultural ideas and techniques he had developed over the years of his farming career.
Despite the family's sometimes grinding poverty, KIM had prepared his children, as he had his wife, for this undertaking, insuring that each of them had a formal education. The two elder sons graduated from Seoul Presbyterian Seminary, his first daughter from Pierson Memorial Bible School, and his second daughter is now attending Kwangju Namhan Gardening School. The youngest son, taken into the Army after finishing his junior course at Dankook Law College, is expected to graduate from this College after his military service and then to teach at Canaan. The wife of his first son—who joined the Canaan effort because of KIM's eloquence and later became his daughter-in-law—was graduated from Myungji Junior College in Home Economics, and the husband of his first daughter graduated from Kyunghee University.
With the exception of specialists who occasionally are invited for lectures, the family comprise the faculty of Canaan School. The first son teaches general farming, the second son instructs in care and breeding of livestock and domestic animals, the first daughter teaches food dietetics, the son-in-law farming life, and the daughter-in-law home economics. KIM himself teaches special farming techniques and conducts daily devotions and church services. Mrs. Kim does the cooking for the family and the students and assists on the farm. The sons and son-in-law also farm, as do the daughter and daughter-in-law when their other work is done.
At Canaan Farm trainees learn to raise milking cows and goats, angora rabbits, turkeys and other poultry, as well as how to cultivate various fruits and vegetables—strawberries, grapes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and medicinal plants—which increase a farmer's income. Neighbors, too, are welcome. Impressed by KIM's results, an increasing number are following his methods.
Basic to KIM's effort is his pioneering in "life-improvement." KIM does not wear the white clothing which is customary among Korean farmers, but uses a more practical cloth of darker color fashioned into overalls—for heavy work—or simple pants and a jacket, and wears footgear of rubber to save on leather. He advises the people to simplify their traditional customs for weddings and funerals. Songs, mostly written by KIM, expressing the beauties and abundance of nature and the satisfactions of tilling the soil, are part of everyday life at Canaan Farm. Urging more nutritious and less expensive eating habits, Elder KIM and his family eat bread made of sweet potato flour or wheat flour as their staple instead of rice. The KIM home is a departure from the traditional farmhouse; he designed it and recommends his design to others. Built with wooden floors, brick walls and large glass windows with a southern exposure, it is less costly to heat than the usual house with small openings and earthen floor, and the rooms are brighter and more healthful.
Villagers in the neighborhood of Canaan Farm testify that KIM's ideas are gaining currency. "He is a man of belief to make a welfare society in this area," one farmer explained, "so we were influenced by Elder KIM in livelihood improvements." Another father volunteered: "Mr. KIM is the only real community leader I have ever met."
KIM's intention is to waste not one minute of his "precious life." He customarily rises at 4 a.m. and retires before 10 at night. For 14 hours a day he is to be seen farming, teaching, praying and preaching. The remaining hours he spends with his family and in reading and writing. "We have three joys a day," he has written. "One is working, the second is eating together and the third is chatting together. Everything we do is scheduled beforehand. Our living principles are obedience, love, faith and industry."
Though the home is now arranged as an institution with classrooms and office, the family, including three grandchildren, maintains a close, rewarding way of life. The house, like the new bunkhouse for trainees, is modest, completely utilitarian and clean. The central figure is KIM, the Elder, proving what he teaches and practicing what he preaches. His purpose, he frequently reiterates, is a demonstration of family life on a farm that will encourage others to live a more joyous, productive rural life.
KIM is kept busiest with the 15-day training courses offered to young people who he hopes will share his passion for bringing about positive change in rural Korea. At the Canaan Farmers School three types of courses are offered—for church pastors, farming specialists and unskilled young men and women. Since the school opened in 1962, two courses have so far been held for 67 church pastors, two for 66 experienced farmers and 39 courses for 1,760 young people going into farming, including some soldiers. Neighboring villagers describe KIM's students as being "changed and renewed" by some "heart revolution" inspired by his instruction.
For the regular 15-day training course inexperienced young farmers pay a fee of 200 won (in 1962 when the school started, equivalent to US$1.54; since March 1965, equivalent to approximately 80 U.S. cents), they bring or buy their own rice or grain and pay a total of 225 won for the side dishes they are served at the school. Experienced farmers pay no fee but work at Canaan Farm for one year while in training.
KIM teaches his own theories which he has evolved from careful experiments. Tests are on practical applications in farming. To students he also preaches the Christian ethic. His often repeated theme is service and sacrifice for the betterment of Korea's underdeveloped rural areas. "Work hard!" he exhorts his students, "Cultivate the earth given to us and pour in your sincerity and then God will bless you." A correspondent from a Seoul journal recorded this classroom admonition: "If we do not love our land then no more will God permit us to be a self-supporting nation." Loving the land, he went on to explain, "means to farm it, not waste and squander it."
Fellow Koreans who have followed his career refer to KIM as the Grundtvig of Korea. Although KIM has not read of N. F. S. Grundtvig's work, the effort at Canaan, as at the earlier farms, is motivated by a concern similar to that of the great 19th century Danish churchman and poet who was moved by a Christian calling to rejuvenate rural life.
For all of his largely self-taught erudition, KIM considers himself, and has the appearance of, an humble farmer. But his eyes shine forth the mission into which he pours his heart. His behaviour reflects his belief and thoughts. Looking much younger than his 58 years, despite his long hours of work each day, KIM is content to be judged a good Christian and a good farmer.
His efforts as a community leader have been recognized by the Korean government. In 1960 he received the Cultural Award from the Minister of Public Information and the following year a citation from the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. In 1962 he received three letters of appreciation from the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, from the National Reconstruction Movement Kyoungi Branch, and from the Minister of Public Information, as well as a citation from the Governor of Kyoungi Province. The Chief of Staff of the Korean Air Force addressed a citation to KIM on June 26, 1964 and earlier invited him to lecture before a group of officers and enlisted men. His audience was so enthusiastic that similar lectures were arranged at every airbase and the Air Force sent enlisted men to Canaan Farm for training. In 1965 KIM received a third commendation from the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.
Government officials have asked KIM what they could do to help but he refuses assistance: "Please do not make any disturbance," he requests, "that is the best way to help me."
Proud of his heritage, KIM did not change his family name when it pleased colonial administrators for Koreans to adopt the Japanese style. Instead, he kept his independent posture but, at the same time, an attitude of fairness. Under the Republic, established at the end of World War II, he has been likewise independent, not identifying with any political party or regime or any Christian denomination. Farming, he believes, is the best way to contribute to the fatherland—patriotism, in his view, is maintaining one's integrity and working hard for the development of the Korean community.
With the farm, church and school established, KIM opened a store in Seoul where products from Canaan and neighboring farms could be shown and sold "for demonstration of the productivity of good farmers." Low cost and guaranteed quality are features of the well-patronized Canaan Products Store.
Canaan Farm, so laboriously developed over the past 11 years, now nets a profit of some 900,000 won (approximately US$3,500) per year from the sale of surplus farm products. This achievement is due essentially to the KIM family, though there has been valuable help from students and from trainees who have volunteered to work at Canaan Farm in order to practice KIM's farming techniques.
KIM's experiments to improve agricultural production have added income and prestige. He today raises the best breed of milk cattle and Angora rabbits in Korea. These rabbits, a species originally imported from Ankara, Turkey, are raised for their fur which brings US$ 10.00 per kilogram and is much in demand for export. A highly successful experiment in strawberry culture was achieved by using special fertilizers and devising methods of planting and replanting adapted to the locale.
In recent years KIM has made extensive lecture tours throughout Korea to encourage his fellow farmers to take pride and joy in their important role, live righteously and do their farm work well. Many farming communities have asked to hear him, and since he could not comply with all requests, he began, in 1960, writing in the form of essays, the lectures he had given. In 1963 this collection of autobiographical essays expressing his philosophy was published in a volume entitled, The Way to a True Living.
In the preface to his book Elder KIM says: "I am not in the least discouraged with regard to the future of my fatherland. 'Where there is a will, there is a way.' I believe there is surely the way to a true living. If we try really hard to overcome our difficulties, we shall be able to reach the 'Promised Land' some day, somehow. In writing this book I try to be sincere and frank. I do not wish to exaggerate. I am determined to speak the truth."
His way to true living, KIM says, is based on "my belief in God, the earth, and human beings. We must believe in God. We must have a close relationship with the earth; we must know how to cooperate with each other." On this framework KIM has built his life and from his experience as a human being and a farmer he gives in these essays practical advice to others on the problems of everyday living and working.
KIM's success symbolizes the hope of all Korean farmers. He has proved that a farmer who owns three and one-half hectares of wasteland and is willing to work, can support his own family and make important contributions to his community. His motivation has been not to derive short-term benefit for himself and his family, but to serve his fellow farmers. "His Christian devotion and patriotic zeal are the source of abundant inspiration to all Koreans," writes a leading Korean educator. "As the title of his book suggests, he has shown to Korean farmers 'the way to a true living'."
August 1966 Manila
Kim, Yong-Ki. Model Village. Seoul. 1946. (In Korean.) ______.The Way to a True Living. Seoul. (Translation of excerpts in English by Ehwa Womans University.) 1963. "Report on Canaan Farm Institution," The Sasangge Monthly. Seoul. June 1966. Interviews with Canaan Farm students and others acquainted with Kim Yong-ki and his work. Visits to Canaan School.