Choe Nam-seon

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Choe Nam-seon
Hangul 최남선
Hanja 崔南善
Revised Romanization Choe Nam-seon
McCune–Reischauer Ch'oe Namsŏn
Pen name
Hangul 육당
Hanja 六堂
Revised Romanization Yukdang
McCune–Reischauer Yuktang
Courtesy name
Hangul 공륙
Hanja 公六
Revised Romanization Gongnyuk
McCune–Reischauer Kongnyuk
This is a Korean name; the family name is Choe.

Choe Nam-seon (April 26, 1890- October 10, 1957) was a prominent modern Korean historian, pioneering poet and publisher, and a leading member of the Korean independence movement. He was born into a jungin (class between aristocrats and commoners) family in Seoul, Korea, under the late Joseon Dynasty, and educated in Seoul. [1]

Choe published Korea's first successful modern magazine Sonyeon (Youth), through which he sought to bring modern knowledge about the world to Korea's youth. He coined the term hangul for the Korean alphabet and promoted it as a literary medium through his magazines. The author of the first “new-style” poem, “Hae egeso Sonyeon ege” (The Ocean to the Youth, 1908), he is widely credited with pioneering modern Korean poetry.

Japan's annexation of Korea in 1910 accelerated the independence movement. In 1919, Choe, together with Choe Rin, organized the March 1st Movement, a non-violent movement to regain Korean sovereignty and independence. For his drafting of the Korean Declaration of Independence, he was arrested by authorities and imprisoned until 1921. In 1928 he joined the Korean History Compilation Committee, which was established by the Governor-General of Korea and commissioned to compile the history of Korea. Here he sought to refute the Japanese imperialist interpretations of ancient Korean history. In 1939 he became a professor at the Manchukuo Jianguo University.

In 1949, Syngman Rhee’s government arrested Choe for alleged collaboration with the Japanese during the colonial period, but he was released when the trial was suspended. During the Korean War, Choe served on the Naval History Committee; after the war, he served on the Seoul City History Committee. He died in October 1957 after struggles with diabetes and hypertension.

Representative Works[edit]

In addition to a large body of historical works, Choe’s writings range from poetry, song lyrics, travelogues, to literary, social, and cultural criticism. His representative books include:

  • The History of Chosŏn (1931)
  • The Encyclopedia of Korean History (1952)
  • The Annotated Samgukyusa (1940)
  • Simchun Sulle (The Pilgrimage in Search of Spring, 1925)
  • Paektusan Kunchamgi (The Travels to Paektu Mountain, 1926)
  • Kumkang Yechan (A Paean to Kumgang, 1928)
  • Paekpal Ponnoe (One-Hundred-and-Eight Agonies, 1926)
  • Kosatong (A Collection of Ancient Stories, 1943)
  • Simundokpon (A Reader of Modern Writing, 1916)


  1. ^ Choi, Hak Joo (2012-07-01). "Yuktang Ch'oe Nam-son and Korean Modernity". YBM, Inc. Retrieved 2012-07-01.