[FOUNTAIN]The Poetic Side of an Industrialist

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[FOUNTAIN]The Poetic Side of an Industrialist

Poets gathered in a small school building by the sea after the students left for their summer vacation. In this seaside retreat, about 300 poets and aspiring poets spent four days and three nights together. A robust old man in his 70s visited the school. Just like the other poets, the old man wore a white short-sleeved T-shirt - as other poets did - and sang a song in front of all the poets at the school.

That old man who sang his heartfelt song was the late honorary chairman of the Hyundai Group, Chung Ju-yung. Mr. Chung sat in a circle with the poets and conversed with them about life and poetry. He frequently visited the seaside poetry school for heart-to-heart talks with the poets.

Some time later, his life became a grand poetic epic of our nation. How can any poetry possibly be greater than his real-life trip to North Korea, driving a herd of cows and overcoming the wall of national separation?

"When I was young, I came to Seoul after stealing money my father raised by selling a cow, because I hated poverty. Now that one cow has become 1,000 cows, and I am going back to my hometown, to which I have always dreamed of returning, with the hope to pay back all I owe," Mr. Chung said when he visited North Korea with his cattle.

At his funeral ceremony on Sunday, a recording of his voice was played. "If you start thinking that anything is possible, then everything can be done." The words hinted at his poetic sentiments.

Leaving home, contending with adversity and finally winning victory - that is the structure of a heroic epic.

Overcoming human limits bounded by convention and opening the door to unlimited freedom are poetic sentiments. His business spirit, going beyond the boundaries of old traditions and ways of thinking and seeking to find and create new values through dramatic and exceptional ideas and actions, certainly resembles this poetic sentiment.

"If someone achieves a desire, then the person is already rich. In this society, all kinds of desires exist, such as those for riches, knowledge, technology and artistic talent. When achieved, they all constitute various forms of wealth," Mr. Chung once said at a seminar.

This is certainly good advice for the rest of us who have fallen into the trap of materiality by judging who is rich and who is poor solely by their physical possessions.

The heart of the poet can be satisfied with just one exquisite poem. We are all the poorer because we do not live in a society in which people are satisfied with spiritual and cultural riches, not just money. We dream of a society where such values and practices are supported.

by Lee Kyeung-chul

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