[FOUNTAIN]The Japanese Mummy ReturnsShen Nong is considered the god of medicine in ancient Chinese legend. In ancient Egypt, the deity of medicine was Imhotep.
Imhotep worked as chief minister to Djoser, the second king of Egypt's third dynasty, in the 27th century B.C. He was also famous for his skill as a physician. One hundred years after his death, Egyptians began worshiping him as the god of medicine. They also believed he was the god of architecture and the god of wisdom, who gave protection to scribes, the intellectuals of that era. In 3,000 years of ancient Egyptian history, Imhotep was the only person － apart from the pharaohs － to be worshiped posthumously. One thousand years after his death, ancient Greeks identified and worshiped him as Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine.
Imhotep's talents won him selection as an administrator for the palace. He became the most powerful judge, priest and minister of the dynasty. As a talented stone craftsman, architect and astrologer, he designed the step pyramid at the necropolis of Saqqarah in the city of Memphis, and conducted the funeral of King Djoser. His pyramid is one of the oldest extant buildings in the world. Although its neighboring ancient cities, known to have been extremely prosperous, have now vanished, his pyramid remains undamaged and awe-inspiring.
Imhotep was a perfect example of an ancient intellectual. Yet, this man of talent appears as an evil god in the Hollywood film "The Mummy Returns." In the movie, he was portrayed as the king's assassin. In the film, he is resurrected in the 1930s and tries to achieve world domination.
The movie distorts history; it is comparable to describing King Gwanggaeto or General Lee Sun-sin in Korean history as rogues.
Movies, of course, are a popular form of fictional entertainment. However, such extreme distortions can give the young generation the wrong image of ancient Egypt. It is typical of arrogant commercialism that one country's history could be ignored in pursuit of success at the box office.
The Japanese government and Japanese rightists are pushing to be able to teach their young people using textbooks that distort history. Are they trying to beautify their national image by ignoring facts and reality? Japan is a respectable country, which rose from the ruins of war to construct the world's second largest economy. In order to protect the honor it has earned through hard labor, it should work to wash clean its bloody reputation. We urge Japan to become a confident and respectable neighbor.
The writer is a deputy international news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chae In-taek