[FOUNTAIN]The absolute power of debtForty-something businessman Mr. Debt is not happy to start a new day. With over 100 million won on his credit card balance, he has spent the past year alternately feeling afraid and powerless.
He paid off the debt on one credit card with a cash advance from another, and recently received an overdue notice from the card companies. Finally he began receiving calls from collection specialists for the credit card companies, pressing him for payments. It was the voice of the Grim Reaper. With nowhere to hide from the debt, he was frequently tempted to commit suicide to end the misery.
But Mr. Debt recently found a ray of hope. He went to see the much-hyped final installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, “The Return of the King,” with his son one morning. He was lucky to stop by a bookstore in the afternoon, where he discovered a book that changed his gloomy mood. The book was titled, “Escape From Debt, Find Happiness: The true stories of eight formerly debt-ridden people who successfully got out of the swamp of credit.”
To Mr. Debt, the Lord of the Rings was not just a blockbuster movie filled with medieval fantasy and spectacular battle scenes. He discovered the classic theme of absolute power, something everyone wants to have but which makes the owner lose himself. Presented as a flaming eye hanging atop a menacing tower, absolute power in this case meant money to Mr. Debt. Frodo arrived at Mordor and tossed the ring into the Mount Doom. Absolute power was destroyed along with the ring, and peace then returned to Middle Earth.
Against the dinosaur-like orcs on Sauron’s side, the human heroes waged a courageous fight. Watching the desperate battle, Mr. Debt began to look back on how he felt helpless and sought to flee. He heard a voice from within himself saying that what he really needs right now is the courage to fight back against the debt.
If the movie inspired him, the book served as a strategy guide for him to get out of debt. The rule of thumb was “escape from the blues and refresh your mood.” Choi Jeong-ung, the author, stressed that credit card debts are not absolute power, but a tamable enemy.
Among the many choices presented in the book, Mr. Debt decided to file for an individual debt workout program. He is hoping that the year 2004 will be different from 2003.
by Chun Young-gi
The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.