[FOUNTAIN]Musing on a mountainIn the early summer, Mount Bukhan is full of life. Fresh foliage is getting darker day by day. The change of leaves when they receive the overflowing energy of the sun is marvelous. Bugs march about in dark green woods losing the traces of spring and squirrels stroll on a trail on a ridge.
An hour’s walk along a rocky uphill road starting from Gugi-dong leads to the Bibong ridgeline. Beyond the ridgeline, three peaks called Baekundae, Insubong and Manggyeongdae are laughing hand-in-hand.
A huge rectangular rock perched precariously on a peak resembles my life, but it hasn’t fallen down yet. After having a bite of cucumber near the rock, I descend the mountain in the direction of a valley where Seunggasa, a Buddhist temple, is located. Where water running down in the valley takes a respite, small fish are briskly wandering about, as if being chased by something. I cannot pass by this clear water, though I have a long way to go. I take a pause. While washing my feet, I’m pondering. I have fostered an ambition since I was 27 years old, when I graduated from college. I made enormous efforts to make money for the next 17 years since. New York was my second hometown; it gave me money and a reputation in the Korean community. Those 17 years were a period during which I dashed toward power.
Now I’m 61. Though my features are still chiseled, I had to surrender to the attacks of time and tide that succeeded in engraving wrinkles at the corners of my eyes. I have enjoyed power as much as I could. I have spent money as much as I could spend. I met Kim Dae-jung and had political success. At the peak of power I met Kim Jong-il. The first inter-Korean summit, which I helped Kim Dae-jung with, will be recorded as a great achievement in Korean history, no matter what anyone says. I devoted my last efforts to preventing hostile political forces from winning the presidency. Luckily, I succeeded, too. But why do I feel so lonely? Kim Dae-jung is sick, and people who swarmed around him like flies are departing one by one. The new administration, that would not be in power without me, tries to make me a scapegoat. The independent counsel investigating the cash-for-summit scandal will summon me when I finish my hike.
Park Jie-won, the former presidential chief of staff, loves Mount Bukhan and climbs it several time a week.
Sic transit gloria.
by Chun Young-gi
The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.