[FOUNTAIN]Left-Handers Day

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[FOUNTAIN]Left-Handers Day

Why are airplane doors always on the left side? Why do ships dock on the port - left - side? Why do most people wear a watch on their left wrist and a wedding ring on the third finger of their left hand? A race track for athletes runs from the left to the right, or counterclockwise. Even when mothers embrace babies, the babies squirm to get to the mother's left breast.

Let's sum up answers to these questions. For millennia, port side docking was widely used for convenience in boarding and loading because of the position and structure of a vertical rudder. In an airport, or a port serving the sky instead of the sea, left-side boarding was adopted for airplanes because ships do it that way. Wearing a watch on the left wrist protects the delicate mechanical device from shocks and causes less inconvenience because the left hand is less actively used than the right hand. Wearing a wedding ring on the third finger is because the ring is worn close to one's heart. A field track has left-hand turns because an athlete's center of gravity is to the left of his body's center. Babies are said to shift toward the left breast to listen closely to their mother's heartbeat. Wearing a decoration on the left side of the chest is customary because the heart is on the left and because there are more right-handed people than left-handed.

Then why is the Chinese character for "left" associated with dullness and inferiority? There is nothing worse than a demotion for salaried workers including government employees. Once upon a time in ancient China, seating in a royal court started from right to left in the order of the status of the participants. The word "moved to the left" (demotion) in Chinese originally meant that a high-ranked official is ordered to move down in rank: to the left. However, as time went by, things changed and the left was considered a higher position in the order of status in China, Korea and Japan.

There are still prejudices against left-handers, and they have many complaints, even though there are now clubs for left-handers and some Internet shopping malls sell household goods just for the left-handed. There are 2 million left-handed people in Korea; 5 percent of adults and 17 percent of children are left-handed. People in Japan chose Feb. 10 as "Left-Handers Day" and held various events during the week around that day to help the left-handed increase their self-esteem. In the United States, an association for left-handed people developed a slogan to express their love for the left-handed.

The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Choi Chul-joo

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