Traditional memorial service to honor Ulrich Beck in Seoul

By Sohn Ji-young
  • Published : Mar 12, 2015 - 19:20
  • Updated : Mar 12, 2015 - 19:20
A memorial service honoring the late sociologist Ulrich Beck, considered one of Germany’s most renowned intellectuals for his academic works on modernity and future society, will take place in Seoul next week.

Joongmin Foundation for Social Theory will hold a commemorative event for Beck, who recently died at age 70 on Jan. 1, under the title “Beyond Risk Society” at the Korea Press Center on Mar. 17, the foundation announced Thursday.

Beck first gained prominence for his work “Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity” (1986), in which he critically examined modernization and warned about the dangers present in the face of new technology in the postindustrial West.
Ulrich Beck. (Yonhap)

The sociologist argued that technology had engendered a new type of modernity embodying more uncertainties and risks compared to the more rational industrial age. The book was published around the time of the world’s worst nuclear accident at Chernobyl, Ukraine, becoming an international best seller at the time.

Beck also attracted much local attention during his visit here in 2014, when he actively criticized the South Korean government’s poor response to the sinking of the Sewol ferry during his lectures.

The upcoming memorial service in Seoul will be led by Korean scholars and related officials who have held close ties to Beck before his death.

Beck’s longtime friend and academic colleague Han Sang-jin, also the chairman of the hosting organization, will lead the service. Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, former University of Seoul President Lee Kun and others will pay tribute to the German sociologist during the event.

The ceremony will also be carried out in a traditional Buddhist style by the former chief monk of Bongeunsa Temple, who met with Beck during his visit to South Korea back in 2008.

“Beck was not only one of modernity’s most influential sociologists but also a dear friend, mentor and colleague to many,” JFST said.

“We decided to hold the memorial event in hopes of continuing Beck’s legacy through an East Asian traditional rite,” it added.

By Sohn Ji-young (