[FOUNTAIN]Bread and Tears - and Time

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[FOUNTAIN]Bread and Tears - and Time

"Harfenspieler," or "Harp Player," is a poem in Goethe's novel "Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship." It goes like this: "He who never ate his bread with tears / he who never, through miserable nights, / sat weeping on his bed - / he does not know you, Heavenly Powers."

"Bread with tears," symbolizing pain and suffering, is also an image in the Bible. Psalm 80 reads, "You have fed them with the bread of tears, And given them tears to drink in abundance." Poet Jeong Ho-seung sang in his poem "Jesus of Seoul," "Jesus smokes alone / pondering about bread and love in Seoul / and bread and tears in Seoul."

Goethe's words were on the political pages of newspapers on Thursday. A Millennium Democratic Party member Lee Hoon-pyung was reported to have said that the younger, reform-minded members of the party "are not among those [of us] who shared bread with tears."

It would be difficult to understand the betrayal that members of the older Donggyo-dong faction must have felt upon experiencing the wave of demands for reform from the younger members of the party. But you get a pretty good idea after reading just a few pages of a book put out by the leading figures close to President Kim Dae-jung, including Kwon Roh-kap and Hahn Hwa-kap.

Under martial law in May 1980, Mr. Kwon was on the run for six months before he surrendered to the military police. He would then be tortured by the military, and forced to swallow painkillers to dull the pain just enough that he wouldn't lose consciousness so the torture could be prolonged. "I wished I were dead," Mr. Kwon remembers in the book. "I was such a mess that I did not know if I was dead or alive." Lee Hoon-pyung was a union leader at a Lotte group company. He was dragged to a torture chamber on the charge that he aided Mr. Kwon in hiding and was beaten so severely that he thought he would die. President Kim's driver, Kim Jong-sun, said that throughout his school days his son was unable to disclose his father's occupation.

It is not unfounded for the people of Donggyo-dong faction to talk about "bread with tears." But it appears that public opinion is siding with what Millennium Democratic Party lawmaker Choo Mi-ae said at a meeting of party members recently. "The elder members of the party cannot ask the people for compensation for what they have been through," she said. This ebbing of sympathy may be because they are now in power and are in a position to look after those who are in tears. And as a Latin proverb goes, "There is nothing that dries up quicker than tears."

The writer is deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Noh Jae-hyun

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