In Remembrance of Professor Seok In Huang
Professor Michitaro Urakawa
(Research Staff, Faculty of Law)
(on 6 August 2014)
As chairman of the Japanese Sports Law Association, I participated in the f ifth Asian Sports Law Association Conference held at the Capital University of Physical Education and Sports in Beijing at the end of September 2013. It was at that time that I heard from Professor Kee Young Yeun of Dongguk University in South Korea that Professor Seok In Huang had passed away on August 16, 2013.
Having learned the news of Prof. Huang’s death in an unexpected place, I was struck by deep sadness brought on by my memories of his friendship on a personal level that spanned many years and his kindness in teaching me to be a proper researcher. At the same time, I was full of emotion that we had lost such a significant figure, one who had been a link between the law associations of Japan and South Korea.
I first met Prof. Huang when I was studying under Professor Erwin Deutsch of the Faculty of Law at Göttingen University as an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation scholar. Prof. Huang graduated with a Doctor of Laws after studying at the University of Cologne in Germany. As such, he had many friends in the German Law Association, while also being very close with Prof. Deutsch, and paid frequent visits to Göttingen.
For the next 30 years or so, from his graduation until the time we spoke by phone last year, when he sounded as healthy as ever, I met him in South Korea, Japan, and Germany, and he not only taught me about civil law but also offered guidance in conducting research.
As he himself said, he was present at his university office every day, and it was a matter of course for him to continue working until midnight even at home. When any kind of question arose, he would lose no time in finding the answer. Indeed, I often received sudden international calls from South Korea early in the morning or late at night. I can still hear his voice, with its unique intonation saying, “Mr. Urakawa. This is Huang. I’m… I’m now researching a particular matter. Are there any documents relating to this in Japan?” He would often start our conversations in this way.
His research involved comparisons of the legal systems of South Korea, Japan, and Germany in various fields of civil law, and his network included many Japanese researchers, such as the late Professor Zentaro Kitagawa of Kyoto University. He also frequently visited Waseda University and had a deep friendship with my own teacher, Professor Shoji Shinozuka, as well. I remember him delivering a report on “Jeonse Rights” at the comparative law research institute .
Now that he has passed away, I wish that I had asked this teacher, who established the basis of South Korean civil law after the war, who trained many excellent researchers, and who had a profound knowledge of economic, intellectual property, and agricultural law, to give many more lectures on South Korean law.
In addition to his death being a loss for the field of South Korean civil law, the fact that we have lost such an important individual as Prof. Huang is also a huge blow for both Japanese and South Korean law associations, given the current difficulties in mutual understanding between our two countries. We are obliged to try to fill the void he leaves behind. I will remember his teachings and do my best to promote exchanges between the law associations of Japan and South Korea.
I would like to pray from the bottom of my heart for Prof. Seok In Huang’s soul to rest in peace.
Brief Personal History of Professor Seok In Huang
1929: Born in Pyongyang
1960: Graduated with a Master’s degree in law from the University of Seoul Graduate School
1967: Graduated with a Doctor of Laws from the University of Cologne in Germany
1968: Tenured as an associate professor at the School of Law, University of Seoul, serving there as a professor until his retirement in 1995. During this period, he served as the chairman of the University of Seoul Law Research Institute, chairman of the South Korean Civil Law Association, chairman of the South Korean and German Law Association, chief director of the East Culture Research Institute, chairman of the South Korean Agricultural Law Association, committee member on various government committees, committee member on the bar examination committee, and other positions.
1998: Inducted as a member of National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Korea, which is equivalent to the Japan Academy in Japan
Note: At the time of writing, I was provided with documents regarding Prof. Huang’s personal history and achievements by Prof. Yeun of Dongguk University (South Korea).