[EDITORIALS]Good-bye, Auntie"Walsun Ajimae," or Auntie Walsun, one of the most popular four-cut comic strips among newspaper readers, noted for its political panache and humor, is leaving us today. The comic strip has run 28 years, or 8,829 times, exclusively in the JoongAng Ilbo. Including publication with newspapers and magazines before the JoongAng Ilbo, the comic strip has run 15,000 times. What a record!
We would like to commemorate the comic's integrity as a monitor of society, unsway-ed by the ups and downs of history that have caused tumultuous transformations in the nation's political power structure.
Auntie Walsun was born in 1955, when Korean people were in abject poverty and despair on land scarred by the Korean War. Portrayed as a unsophisticated maid, Auntie Walsun brought smiles to people who had forgotten how to laugh with her bold voice, never bending to the authorities. Plump yet solid, Auntie Walsun has been at the forefront of Korean life, representing the thoughts of ordinary people, along with other characters, like the "salaried worker," Kim So-dal, and the mischievous Ppaengpari. Jung Woon-kyung, the creator of the comic strip, never failed to pick up his pen throughout the gloomy days of military authoritarian governments and the Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung administrations.
During the many days when people remained mute even though they had tongues, Auntie Walsun criticized and satirized the military autocracy, giving quiet support to the democracy movement, never backing down. We cannot applaud Mr. Jung enough for his being faithful to the fundamental duties of a journalist; he never compromised with the authorities, setting a strong example as a keen overseer of society.
Auntie Walsun now disappears after her great role of five decades. Her disappearance marks the end of the four-panel political comic strip in newspapers, and it also signifies the closing of an era. Auntie Walsun may leave us, but the spirit of stark satire that it cultivated will remain as an eternal pillar in the history of Korean journalism.