Struggles with earth, Confucianism and an occupationOct. 29, 1992
The world was supposed to end on this date. A group of fanatics insisted that Jesus would descend to earth at midnight sharp to save only true followers and terminate the evil world. More than 8,200 adherents had no doubt they would float up to heaven in this, one of the country’s biggest doomsday frenzies.
Behind the scenes of this rage was Lee Jang-rim, a minister infatuated with eschatology. Under the influence of Percy Collett, an American minister who insisted he had seen heaven, Mr. Lee nurtured over 150 sects around the country. The core of Mr. Lee’s doomsday theory was the Rapture, in which Christians would float up to meet Jesus. Mr. Lee’s followers were so devoted they did not hesitate to donate their fortunes to the minister. Thinking they were about to leave the earth, the believers quit schools and jobs and bid farewell to relatives. First, Mr. Lee designated Oct. 10 as Judgement Day, and devotees amassed at churches to pray. When nothing happened, they comforted themselves by saying they had picked the wrong date. Mr. Lee, meanwhile, had collected around 3.4 billion won, not long before police arrested him on fraud charges. The police found bills due in early 1993, suggesting that Mr. Lee did not believe in doomsday himself. His arrest did not dampen his followers’ enthusiasm, though; they swarmed around their churches in impeccable white clothes, which they believed to be a qualification for the Rapture. When the clock struck midnight, however, nothing happened. By half past midnight, followers got angry with their leader and cried aloud before scattering into the night.
Oct. 29, 1504
Shin Sa-imdang is known as a model Korean woman. Born on this date, Ms. Shin grew up to be a devoted daughter and gracious mother, which were the standard virtues of her time in the Joseon Dynasty (1392 to 1910). One of the few women of that time who made names for themselves in the arts, Ms. Shin showed talent in painting and poetry. Once, as a teenager, Ms. Shin painted a grasshopper sitting on the soil near a cherry tree. When the painting was complete, she dried it in her yard. Shortly after, Ms. Shin found that a chicken roaming the yard had pecked at the painted grasshopper, perhaps due to its realistic appearance. In the male-dominated Confucian society, however, Ms. Shin remained best known as the mother of Lee Ee, a great scholar and statesman.
Oct. 30, 1929
After Japan colonized Korea, Korean students found it galling to have to share the commuter trains from Naju to Gwangju in South Jeolla province with their colonizers. The train cars were divided into four groups: Japanese students, Korean students, female students and others. On this date, two Japanese students allegedly tried to cavort with a Korean female student, Park Gi-ok. It was enough to stir up her cousin, Park Jun-chae. The Japanese and Korean student groups started fighting, which only worsened when the Japanese police and teachers sided with their countrymen. The Korean students went on to form an underground rebel group against the Japanese; the train incident helped spur on the Gwangju Students’ Independence Movement later that year.
by Chun Su-jin