The Wilderness, Yi Yuk-sa's magnum opus, is a poem of extraordinarily grand scale. It starts with the very opening of the skies, a time so long ago that there wasn't even a rooster crying the break of day. Then we have stately depiction of the founding of Korea, which in his heart was a land even the tectonic movements of the mountains dared not violate, followed by the endless cycle of seasons that ensued, finally coming to the 20th century. Alas, the nation has fallen on a hard time though, with snow falling and prosperity only an elusive dream, as it was under the rule of a foreign country. A born patriot who looked out for his people more than anything throughout his life, turning around this situation and rescuing his nation out of this plight was the calling he took up for himself, ready to dedicate everything he had to the cause -- his youth, literary works, practically everything -- until the last moment when he lost his life under murky circumstances while under custody of the Japanese imperialists. Here is a man who had an iron will that even the threat of death could not bend, and he is fondly remembered for that.
In the final verses, he declares he will sow the seeds of a meager song, even in the face of the bleak situation, so that a great savior will come in time, and sing it to usher in a day - a day of great restoration of the country to its former self, bringing back the lost dignity and setting them on course once again to prosper. And behold! His predictions and wishes indeed have come true spectacularly, as Korea was not only freed from the forces of imperialism, but embarked on a long streak of remarkable endeavors which changed its destiny forever. The series of events that started soon after Yi's death in 1945 continued at a breathtaking pace, right up until Korea has become a proud nation ranking among the top ten nations of the world in most measures, becoming a practical equal, or even leading ahead in many sectors, even when compared with the former aggressor Japan. Yi would be proud if he looked down from above at the present state of the country, for the prosperity achieved by the very people that he fought so hard for all his life, and for the way they remember him for what he did.