[FOUNTAIN]The 7 Wonders based on social phenomena

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[FOUNTAIN]The 7 Wonders based on social phenomena

To the ancient Greeks, seven was a sacred number. As a prime number, it was considered the symbol of virginity, luck and the goddess Athena. Probably because of their fondness for the number, the Greeks chose the Seven Wonders of the World, architectural relics whose construction methods they could not fathom.
The list comprises the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the statue of Zeus at Olympia, the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes and the lighthouse of Alexandria. All of these structures were gigantic and sophisticated architectural gems that the technology and science of the time could not explain. But only the Great Pyramid of Giza, the oldest of the seven, remains today, with the other six having been destroyed by nature or man.
When did the list first appear? There is a theory that Macedonians and Greeks visited Asia Minor and the Persian Empire, and came up with the list after an expedition of Alexander the Great in 334 B.C. But the lighthouse of Alexandria, the last to be built among the seven, was constructed on the island of Pharos in 280 B.C., so the list would have come after that date. Considering a second century B.C. Greek poem praising the seven architectural jewels, it is probable that the list was created around that time.
The original Seven Wonders were selected over two millennia ago. Now that we can travel anywhere in the world thanks to the advancement in transportation, the list might seem obsolete. A Swiss filmmaker recently launched an online campaign to pick a modern version of the Seven Wonders through online voting by January 2006. Internet users around the world are fascinated by the idea, and have been selecting their choices of landmarks. Currently, the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal in India are strong candidates.
But if the Seven Wonders were to be selected among unusual social, rather than architectural, phenomena, Korea would be hard to beat. Private, supplementary classes are overriding public education, and plastic surgery has become the most coveted indulgence, regardless of age or gender. Political corruption is so ubiquitous that the ruling and opposition leaders and even the president himself are associated with scandals. How strange is that?

by Lee Kyu-youn

The writer is a deputy city news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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