The Life and Poetry of Yun Dong-ju: Echoes of Resistance

OV Digital Desk

Yun Dong-ju (30 December 1917 – 16 February 1945), was a Korean poet and independence activist who is remembered for his poetry, which often explored themes of freedom, democracy, and national identity.

Life and Career

He was born on 30 December 1917 in Anju, South Korea, and grew up during a time of Japanese colonial rule.  As a child, he was called “Haehwan” He entered Eunjin Middle School in Longjing in 1932 and moved to Pyeongyang to attend Soongsil Middle School in 1936. On 27 December 1941, aged 23, he graduated from Yonhi College, in Seoul which later became Yonsei University.

He had been writing poetry from time to time and chose 19 poems to publish in a collection he intended to call “Sky, Wind, Star, and Poem” but he was unable to get it published. Yun was arrested by the Japanese authorities in 1943 for his participation in independence movements, and he died in prison on 16 February 1945 at the age of 28.

22 February in Indian and World History

Award and Legacy

He is considered one of the most important figures in modern Korean literature and is often remembered as a symbol of resistance against colonial rule. In 1998, the South Korean government posthumously awarded Yun the Order of Merit for National Foundation, one of the country’s highest honors, in recognition of his contributions to the independence movement and to Korean literature. Yun’s legacy as a poet and independence activist continues to be remembered and celebrated in South Korea and around the world.   In 1948 three collections of his handwritten manuscripts were published posthumously as “The Heavens and the Wind and the Stars and Poetry“. In November 1968, Yonsei University and others established an endowment for the Yun Tong-Ju Poetry Prize. In 2007, he was listed by the Korean Poets’ Association among the ten most important modern Korean poets.

On 30 December 2010, Google Doodle celebrated the Birthday of Yun Dong-ju.