[FOUNTAIN]A Mirror Breaks, a Child Suffers

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[FOUNTAIN]A Mirror Breaks, a Child Suffers

When a married couple is parted by divorce, it is said idiomatically in Northeast Asia that they broke a mirror. The expression originated from a tragic Chi-nese legend. When a huge army of the newly emerging Sui dynasty invaded Chen, a land to the south, a high-ranking official of Chen had to flee the country, leaving his wife behind. He broke a mirror into two pieces and gave one piece to his wife, as a token of his promise to meet again and put together the broken pieces. But the country was completely ruined and his wife was taken by a high-ranking official of Sui. The piece of mirror, which the wife had treasured, turned into a magpie and flew to her husband.

The legend of the broken mirror delivers the lesson that a married couple should not part even in extreme situations. But the recent trend does not follow the lesson. Couples break mirrors easily. The ratio of divorced couples is rising every year. The number of couples preparing for divorce, standing in line in front of a family court, is growing. According to the National Statistical Office, 120,000 couples got divorced in Korea last year. The number is exactly 10 times as large as 30 years ago. About 329 couples broke up a day on average last year. In other words, every four minutes, a couple broke a mirror.

But we are not living in a society like the American Indian group in ancient times, in which a divorce was realized only if a husband left his house at midnight and left his shoes in front of the door. A broken mirror is always followed by pain. Even a couple that seems to have broken up very easily must have suffered numerous sleepless nights. They must have worried painfully about the anguish of their innocent children. Currently the view that it is better for a couple to get divorced for the emotional stability of their children rather than subject them to daily scenes of fighting is attracting support. Even so, a divorce is not easy, considering children's feeling of deprivation living with a single father or mother.

The ruling Millennium Democratic Party and the United Liberal Democrats, which had been married to each other for three and half years, giving birth to a child named the "People's Government," finally have divorced.

The breaking of the mirror was foreseeable, because the coalition had been a marriage of convenience. The partners would rather go their own ways than live together with incompatible temperaments, picking a fight at the slightest provocation. The two parties are placing responsibility for the broken mirror on each other. The dispute might develop into a lawsuit for consolation money. Anyway, we are worried about the future of the child.



The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Bae Myung-bok

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