At 5:40 a.m. February 4th 1989, I received a telephone call from Pak Yongja, secretary to Ham Sokhon, who told me of the death of Ham. Within an hour, I was at Seoul National University Hospital, where I found Ham's corpse. Although it was early dawn, several people had already gathered there. When I looked at him in his coffin, I felt it was as if a part of myself had died. Faced with his death my mind began to wander through a labyrinth of reflections: Ham's life, his death, and my own life --- Three hours later, I had handed in my resignation to the Korean National Railway, where I had worked for the last eight years as an engineer.
Three and a half years later in 1992, as a history student, I wrote my BA thesis: Sok Hon Ham and Democracy in Korea, at the University of Essex in Britain. Five and a half years later in 1994, I wrote my MA history thesis: Sok Hon Ham's Understanding of Taoism and Quakerism at Essex. And nine and a half years later in 1998, I wrote my PhD thesis: The Life and Legacy of A Korean Quaker, Ham Sokhon at the University of Sheffield. This thesis is a personal attempt to trace the moving spirit of Ham.
I heard the 'unfamiliar name' Ham Sokhon, nineteen years ago, in the winter of 1979 from Kim Donggill. Not long afterward, I had an opportunity to listen to Ham's public lecture. I was in my early 20's when I heard that electrified first lecture, and was interested enough to spend most of my time and energy attending Ham's miscellaneous public lectures. While I read his various writings, I thought about him, talked about him, and most of all, tried to live him every day. It is crystal-clear to me, that throughout the time I knew Ham, he was a source of constant and lasting inspiration to me at every moment in my life, and will continue to be so from here to eternity.
Without this man I would have remained an engineer, working for the Korean National Railways for the rest of my days, I would not have experienced different aspects of human society and come to write this thesis. I hope that as a drop of rain adds to the Pacific Ocean, my attempts to write about Ham's life and thought may add to his legacy. If that is the case I would be more than delighted!
Table of Contents Bibliography Table: A Chronology of Ham's Life Home Page