[FOUNTAIN]Is hope left in the box?

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[FOUNTAIN]Is hope left in the box?

When Prometheus stole fire from the sky and gave it to humans, Zeus was enraged. As punishment for a world inhabited only by men, he ordered Hephaestus, the master engineer and the god of the forge to cast a woman, imitating the appearance of a goddess, out of clay.

All the gods and goddesses contributed to the effort.

Athens gave her life and clothing; Aphrodite gave her beauty; Hermes made her persuasive and cunning, and Apollo gave her musical talents. Hephaestus gave her lying and deceit.

Zeus named her Pandora, which means "a woman who received all gifts," and sent her to Earth bearing a box she was told she should never open.

But of course she could not control her curiosity to open the box and see what was inside it. One day she did open it, and all kinds of misfortunes and diseases poured out. Pandora immediately closed the lid, but only one thing was left inside.

It was Erpis, or hope.

There are many variations on the familiar story in Greek mythology, but in most accounts Pandora's Box is associated with pain and calamity.

A different interpretation comes from Thomas Bulfinch, an American writer, who asserts in "Bulfinch's Mythology" that Pandora's Box was full of great gifts from the gods, although everything flew away except hope, the real gift.

There is also a hypothesis that Pandora's Box originally belonged to Prometheus, and all the good deeds Prometheus crafted were inside the box as a present for mankind.

Now, in 21st century Seoul, another Pandora's box has been opened.

With Choi Gyu-seon's tape made public, all manner of corruption that has occurred during the Kim Dae-jung administration has been revealed all at once, shaking the country.

Questions abound over the Daewoo Group's bankruptcy.

Even the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Mr. Kim is now viewed with suspicion.

The disclosures that have flown from our Pandora's Box certainly have provoked anger and even despair. So far, nothing that has emanated from it has been welcome.

But can it be that there is still something good to be found here?

Will we find, in the end, that hope is left in the box and that its opening, rather than a tragedy, will prove a blessing instead?

The writer is a Berlin correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Yoo Jae-sik

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