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Korean Authors


Doctor Jeong Jae-Seung

The Happiest Moment? When I Meet My Readers!




There is a person who ceaselessly breaks down the barrier of science, which seems so high. It is doctor Jeong Jae-Seung, who is devoted to the “scientification of the public” by teaching science to the public in an easy way through books, going beyond his personal study in his major. He explains brain science, his major, as “a study that understands the mind of you and others.” Maybe that’s why his books become steady sellers in the science category, seizing the hearts of readers. Doctor Jeong has been meeting the public through various activities such as appearing on TV shows and lectures, adding to books. Recently, he has been expanding his world by cooperating with experts from various fields, crossing academic boundaries. Following is an interview with Doctor Jeong Jae-Seung, who spreads the intellectual joy of learning science and grows with his readers.


Doctor Jeong Jae-Seung



It’s an honor to have you on K-Book Trends. Please introduce yourself to our readers.


Hello, everyone. I’m brain scientist Jeong Jae-Seung, studying decision neuroscience in the Brain & Cognitive Sciences Department at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology). I’m exploring the diversity of human perception, thought, and behavior, by observing and analyzing the mental workings of the individual brain and even social phenomena from the perspective of theoretical physics. I’m also having fun sharing my findings with the world through books or lectures, and giving insights to readers.


Could you tell us about the charm of brain science and share some brief explanations about what brain science is for those unfamiliar with the area?


When I was new to studying the brain, I once spent six hours observing mentally ill patients in a psychiatric ward at a general hospital. There, I saw people looking out the window in despair, people suffering from delusions and hallucinations, people enduring suicidal thoughts, and many others suffering in pain. That’s when I decided to study brain science – I wanted to provide meaningful help to those people to help them get through it.
Brain science is about exploring people’s minds. Our mind is in the brain, not the heart. The mind is created as the body receives information about the world and interacts with the brain. Whether it is innate or acquired through environment and experience, it eventually has to be put into the brain to perceive, think, and act upon it. So, if we are to understand human beings, and further human society, I believe that brain science will provide wonderful insights. Isn’t it so fascinating that the brain, which is only 1.4kg, holds the spirit of the universe? I think that there’s no more attractive subject than brain science if it’s about the desire to understand oneself.



I want to provide meaningful help, though it might be small, through brain science.



You have written many science books for the general public. Was there a special reason to start writing books for people that are not familiar with science?


I began to write for the public when a senior, who was a journalist for a science magazine, asked me to write a piece. Back then, I had been writing for the school newspaper for a long time. I enjoyed writing in my early 20s. I was a curious boy, and I really liked to share new facts I found when I was exploring different topics alone with people. And it naturally grew in me a sense of duty. And as I entered my 30s, I thought that writing could be a social responsibility for a scientist. You know, every scientist is financially backed by people’s taxes. So, scientists should be happy to share their work with the taxpayers and reflect on how their research gives insights into the universe, nature, life, consciousness, and more. Also, I believe that it is our social duty as engineers to discuss what kind of future society the technologies we develop can create, and to dream about the future we want together.


You’re also writing books for children, such as the Your Brain Rocks! Brain Explorers! Unlock the Secret (Book21) series. You must have had a different mindset from writing for adult readers. What do you particularly pay attention to when writing for children?


Brain science teaches very important things about studying your and others’ minds. So, I thought that it was the must-study subject for children who start their first school life. I began planning for the series as I wanted to read my brain science books to my daughters, and I actually had many conversations with them as I organized the entire story.
But, publishing the series was a new attempt that needed courage, as the children’s book market in Korea was mainly about educational comics, about subjects you learn at school. We were unsure whether parents would buy the books for their child, as it was about brain science, a subject which has nothing to do with the subjects you learn at school. So, I was so happy that more than 600 thousand readers chose the series, and I was especially thankful that children enjoyed learning about the “science of the mind.” In fact, if I were to pick the most important thing to learn during childhood, I would choose “a subject about understanding the minds of ourselves and others.” With that in mind, I hope to continue writing children’s books in the future.


The <em>Your Brain Rocks! Brain Explorers! Unlock the Secret series

The Your Brain Rocks! Brain Explorers! Unlock the Secret series



Your books have been very popular among the public, and have been reprinted many times. Have you had any special experiences or takeaways from due to your books’ success?


To me, books are like the “annual ring” of my life. Every book and every page I write is a complete reflection of myself at the time, and I have found that I have grown little by little with each revision. I’m very grateful that I’m able to publish revised editions every 5 or 10 years and sell my books for a long time, in a situation where the publishing industry is shrinking little by little in Korea. I hope that I can grow and mature with my readers, and that every step is reflected in the books.


You are also writing and working with experts from different genres and fields, let alone scientists. Is there a reason for maintaining such a cross-academic method?


As the book Science Concert (Across) received so much attention, more than it deserved, I needed viewpoints that provided broader views and deeper insights. So, I stood up to work with and learn from masters in different fields. There’s no other way than writing with the best writers to learn a lot. Anyway, thanks to the magnificent co-writers, I also could indulge in deep intellectual joy across various fields.


Since you’re interested in so many different fields, what kind of books do you usually read?


As I’m a scientist, I usually read many books about science and technology. I also try to explore other various areas of science and engineering outside of my own research. I’ve been recently reading science books about evolution and biological anthropology. Brain science, at its core, studies questions like “What is a human being?” and “Why are we in such a unique position in the ecosystem?” And you can get meaningful insights from the humanities or social sciences, such as linguistics, anthropology, and neurophilosophy. So, naturally, I like reading humanities or social science books. Oh, and SF, too.



I hope that every step I grow and mature is reflected in the books.



On top of research and writing books, you have been interacting with the public through various channels such as TV shows, lectures, and articles. Do you think that the public’s interest in science has changed compared to the past?


I’m happy that the general public is trying to accept science as a culture and enjoy it. I wrote the book Science Concert with the hope that people would one day enjoy science lectures like watching an orchestra play in a concert hall, and I think that day has come. Many readers send me questions or their thoughts via email after I give lectures to the public. Well, I think science has become a culture already, as you can see people discussing science on TV shows like “All the Butlers” and “The Dictionary of Useless Knowledge.” However, I think scientists like me still have a lot of work to do, as newspapers still include “Horoscope Today,” and signs of tarot and fortune telling can be commonly seen on the streets.


Is there any book of yours that international readers might find interesting?


I would like to recommend reading Twelve Walks (Across) if you are young or are going through a period of change in your 40s and 50s. I give some of my advice, based on brain science as someone who has walked on the same path, to young people that are unsure of how to live in this rapidly-changing environment. The book is an honest reflection of my questions and answers about where the A.I. and big data technologies are taking our society, and how we should live in the midst of those changes.
For children, I recommend reading Your Brain Rocks! Brain Explorers! Unlock the Secret. It will be good material to learn about brain science while learning Korean. Above all, the book tries to take an approach of “making familiar things unfamiliar,” like “Why do humans act like that from the point of view of an alien?” Children will have the chance to understand the human species through self-objectification and metacognition.
Lastly, for teenagers, I would like to recommend reading Science Concert. It’s full of intellectual joy that science has to offer. In particular, you will be able to experience how natural science, like physics or brain science, can provide a new perspective towards understanding human society.


Twelve Walks

Science Concert

Twelve Walks and Science Concert



What are your next writing plans or goals?


Two books will be published this year. One is about what kind of society will be created by technologies like brain engineering, and another advises adolescents and young adults on how to prepare for such a society. The happiest moment for me as a scientist and writer is “the moment I meet with people that have read my books.” I can’t wait to meet my readers with interesting books this year. Thank you.




#Jeong Jae-Seung#Scientist#Neuroscience#Science Concert
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