[EDITORIALS]Dae! Han! Min! Guk!

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[EDITORIALS]Dae! Han! Min! Guk!

The streets were alive long after midnight. Young men and women hanging out of car windows waved national flags while racing down the roads. Those on the sidewalks sharing drinks in celebration waved and applauded. Cars honked a five-note signature, while motorcycles roared back in harmony to the beat of the now-official World Cup cheer. Whether clad in a red T-shirt or not, alone or in groups, pedestrians greeted one another with the chant, "Dae! Han! Min! Guk!"

The night that we advanced to the second round of the World Cup finals for the first time since our debut in 1954 we were born again as "Daehanminguk." The "Daehan" in our nation's official Korean name was first proclaimed in 1897 by Emperor Gojong. The adding of the character "dae," which means "great," to the character that symbolized the Korean people, "han," reflected the nation's desperate wish in face of the tumultuous fate that awaited it. In 105 years, "Daehan" has come to mean "pride" and "confidence." The root of this "Daehan-minguk" phenomenon that has taken the world by surprise is in sinbaram, the innate and persevering cheerfulness found in every Korean soul. It was this sinbaram that united us in passion to overcome our troubles in every crisis. An example would be the June 10 Movement in 1987 that saw modern democracy finally established in Korea. Another recent example would be the nationwide movement to collect gold to raise money to repay the national debts in the aftermath of the 1997 financial crisis. Although obviously not raising enough to pay back the enormous debt, the movement inspired people to start anew from the despair they felt.

The "Dae! Han! Min! Guk!" phenomenon shows us that we have the potential to manifest collective passion not only in crises but also in progress and development. It teaches the older generations still blinded by regional strife and communal selfishness to hope and to have confidence in the younger "Red Devils" generation in their teens and twenties. Even more precious than our ticket to the second round of the World Cup was the opportunity to discover a nation prepared to unite for a common goal. Our leaders must take this passion and use it as the driving energy for the betterment of our country.
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