[FOUNTAIN]Strike a tent and make a public point

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[FOUNTAIN]Strike a tent and make a public point

Canvas tents originated with the unique dwelling of ancient nomads. They had to overcome the rugged environment and react to changes of climates and seasons. They were constantly moving to find a better pasture to graze their livestock. Nomadic people valued mobility, quick judgment, decisiveness and drive. Tents that could be quickly erected and folded were a product to fit the lifestyle of the nomads.
The Mongols, who built a grand empire that stretched from Mongolia to Europe in the 13th century, had a tent style called a ger. It had a cylindrical outer wall and a cone-shaped roof. Four or five people could set up or dismantle the tent in an hour. The distinction between the inside and the outside was not clear, so that the Mongols could watch movements outside at all times. The design enabled the residents to quickly respond to attacks of their enemies or wild animals or an unexpected change of climate.
Tents can be easily moved, but they are not, to be sure, a suitable place to enjoy a comfortable life. You cannot live richly in a tent even if you want to. The inhabitant of a tent must be determined to be content with a simple lifestyle. Even Genghis Khan himself, who ruled the grand empire, was no exception. In modern days, when the nomadic lifestyle is no longer an option, tents often have symbolic meanings such as suffering, modesty, simplicity, resolution, and populism.
For example, protesters could effectively emphasize their position as the weak or victims if they staged a sit-in under a tent. The tent would add to the image of enduring difficulties. If you denied yourself a comfortable indoor space and set up a tent outside, you could display the strong will to fight. So a protest under a tent would not end in a day or two once it began, even if a tent was originally intended to offer a temporary shelter. Religious services under a tent imply yet another meaning. The religious leaders would display their will to approach the masses and assume the lowest position. The religious ceremonies held under tents would have an image of faith.
The latest tent is the political party headquarters. Another party decided to make a headquarters out of a run-down market site. Now even politicians need to borrow the symbolic images of the tent. Well, they must be really desperate to use them as a last resort.


by Nahm Yoon-ho

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