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[FOUNTAIN]Misaligned planets

Apr 04,2003
Americans are from Mars, Europeans are from Venus. That was the phrase of the day around the world, provided not long ago by Robert Kagan, a well-known conservative columnist from the United States. Local journalists didn’t miss the chance to quote the phrase in their articles.
The phrase suggests that the United States and Europe have irreconcilable differences in points of views on the war in Iraq. However, those who are fluent in English likely know the full meaning behind the phrase.
In English, Mars means the Greek god of war, while Venus means the goddess of beauty and love. Robert Kagan could not have done a better job at expressing the differences between the United States and Europe.
Before Mr. Kagan another author, John Gray, used part of the expression for another reason. Mr. Gray is an American writer and counselor on relationships. In 1991, he published “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,” a best-seller in the United States and in Korea. Mr. Gray continues to teach men and women how to live together in harmony, even with different lifestyles and opinions.
The images of Mars and Venus come from how the planets appear on the outside. Mars is covered with a layer of oxidation, and is red. Thus, Mars has been symbolized as warrior-like and blood-thirsty. The Martian invasion of Earth has been a fascinating subject for novels and movies since H. G. Welles, a sociologist and historian, wrote “The War of the Worlds” in 1898, a science fiction tale about a Martian attack. In 1938, the movie director Orson Wells adapted “The War of the Worlds” for radio and it was aired nationwide. Millions of people were sent into a panic thinking the story was real.
By contrast, Venus is the third brightest object in the sky, next to the sun and the moon. However, the planet, which has long been symbolized by love and peace, has one of the harshest natural environments, even worse than Mars’s.
The relationship between the United States and Europe cannot be worse due to the war in Iraq. Some people say it is the worst relationship since World War II.
This trans-Atlantic relationship resembling a Mars and Venus conflict finally showed up in Korea. The peninsula is divided between people supporting the dispatching of troops to Iraq and those who are against it. The United States and Europe are fighting for their own causes. So, what are we fighting for?


by Yoo Jae-sik

The writer is the Berlin correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.


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