UNESCO World Heritage Guardians are volunteers that help in the education and protection of cultural assets around the globe. This year’s Youth UNESCO World Heritage Guardians are a team of students from Dankook University (DKU) that go by the name Secret Garden. The Dankookians (Students of Dankook Universtiy) are majoring in history and post content highlighting interesting parts of the Seungjungwon diaries on their SNS accounts, including Facebook and Instagram, twice a week. They post the content in Korean, Chinese, English and Japanese with the aim of drawing attention to the topics by as many people as possible. The team also uploads audio clips that were adapted from the diaries for uploading on various platforms such as YouTube, Naver or Spoon Radio. While their online work has been commendable, their offline activities have been stymied by social distancing rules from Covid-19. In order to keep promoting their efforts to build a wider audience, the team contacted the Dankook Herald (DKH) to conduct an interview.
|▲ Team logo of 'Secret Garden'. (Photo from the Secret Garden Team)|
Q1: What is the purpose of this team?
A: We aim to introduce the Seungjungwon diaries to people who know little about them. We do this by uploading card news on Instagram highlighting key events from the diary twice a week. And we translate the content into English, Chinese, and Japanese, so some foreigners who are interested in Korean history can also appreciate our posts. In addition, we upload some interesting tales in radio format on ‘Spoon Radio’, audio clips in NAVER, and to YouTube once a week. Lastly, Do Seung-ji, was the Chief Royal Secretary who kept the diaries during the Joseon Dynasty, so we made a ‘Do_seung-ji’ account to upload pictures and first-person stories from the diaries.
Q2: Why do you choose to focus on the ‘Seungjungwon diary’?
A: The Seungjungwon diary is an important record, and in contrast to the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty, it is the true record of the Joseon Dynasty. We chose it because it is not as famous as other historical records that have been passed down. Also, we met Ryu Chang-dong, a visually handicapped history teacher in middle school, and learned that the blind often have difficulty reading the diary, so, we included alternative sources for the text such as making content using voice media.
Q3: What is the hardest part of doing this activity?
A: Our team members all major in history, so we have a lot of trouble translating our posts into other languages. We get help from students who major in Chinese and Japanese. In addition, because the diary is written in an archaic form of Korean, we need to first translate it into modern Korean grammar. Most of the diary has not yet been translated, so we have limits when making new content to post. We are sorry that we cannot introduce the reign of King Jeong-jo and the reign of King Yeong-jo yet because of our lack of data.
|▲ Secret garden uploaded the contents of Seungjungwon diary using card-news in their account. (Photo from Secret Garden)|
Q4. What was your reason for using two different formats, radio, and card-news?
A: We wanted to help people who find it difficult to access the legacy of records and teach them more about the Seungjeongwon diaries. The card-news contains big issues and general facts. On the other hand, the audio reports are more interesting and cover lesser known facts. The first time we started making card-news, we adopted a method of reading it so that blind people could also understand the content. However, Mr. Ryu told us that alternatives to text would be more effective for the blind and since then, we used our voices to create our card news.
Q5: Could you tell me why you registered a Finsta account using the name Do Seung-ji?
A: In this account, we act as if we are Do Seung-ji. We upload a picture diary, which reinterprets historical incidences from the perspective of Do Seung-ji. We received a lot of feedback from viewers that our information made it easier for them to understand the history we cover.
Q6. What is your next plan?
A: We will continue to upload our content using card-news, picture diaries and radio segments. In order to provide voice services for the blind, about 250 volunteers made voice recordings of ‘Soon Jong-dae’s Seungjeongwon diary. We will submit it to the Classical Translation Institute to request the recordings be offered to the blind. We are also planning to make an accessible collection of the Seungjeongwon’s diary available to the welfare centers for the blind. Through these efforts, we hope that blind people will be able to enjoy greater access to Seungjeongwon’s diary.
Q7. Is there anything you want to tell Dankookians?
A: Although Seungjeongwon’s diary is recognized as a World Heritage item, it is not as popular as the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty. We hope Dankookians will pay a lot more attention to Seungjeongwon’s diary and other Korean cultural heritage items.
During this interview, the team Secret Garden demonstrated their great passion for their goals of sharing the content of the Seungjungwon diaries to the world. Together with the team ‘Secret Garden’, the DKH is also looking forward to the Seungjungwon diaries becoming famous around the world.
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