[VIEWPOINT]A boat and a community

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[VIEWPOINT]A boat and a community

In a small, quiet fishing village, an old sailing boat was anchored. This ownerless boat had sat where it was left a long time ago and under the weight of years, it was getting broken and crumbled little by little. One villager perhaps felt sorry to just watch the boat rotting, and one day began to repair it a little at a time whenever he found the time. First of all, he neatly got rid of the barnacles accumulated on the boat and then sanded the peeling paint and rusted iron.
It was an impossible job in the sight of almost everyone, but he would not stop. Another villager took a pity on the man who had been keen on the useless job and began to help him.
The two men, although they worked together, were absorbed in cleaning and fixing the boat without any time to look at or talk with each other. Perhaps their job appeared interesting to a third villager, who joined the work as well. And in this manner, the number of people increased one by one until repairing the old boat became the whole village’s interest.
Among the gathered people, some were too old or clumsy for this kind of job to be of any help, and some were even in the way to others rather than being helpful. But nobody who gathered there minded this situation, instead they tried to help others find a suitable job and kindly showed them how to do it.
As the work progressed, the cost became huge. Then, not knowing who started first, they began to share the burden by making a little contribution as their situation allowed. Among the villagers, those who did not participate or who were rich enough contributed a substantial amount willingly.
While the villagers were eagerly engaged in the job, they heard news from afar that before long an international sailing festival would be held in New York. So the villagers held a meeting and agreed to bring the boat to New York and donate it so that many people could see it. From the beginning they had had no idea what to do with it after fixing it. At last, the deserted ghost ship took on a beautiful appearance.
The scene gave the villagers, who had achieved the work of their own accord, a warm feeling beyond words and a deep emotional satisfaction that was never to be forgotten. Although they didn’t talk about it with each other, they were already of one heart, and just by looking at each other, they seemed to know what the others were thinking or feeling.
The sailing boat ― which had been part of the village for a long, long time and one day began to draw all the attention from the villagers ― began its voyage away from the shores by the village. The villagers, who had restored the boat with all their hearts, steered the craft toward New York like a father who leads his precious only daughter, hand in hand, to the wedding hall. By and by, the boat entered the port in New York and a great number of people who had gathered to take part in the festival stood applauding the beautiful ship.
The boat in the story, which took its place among the many sailing boats from all over the world, now sat with furled sails after finishing its short but long voyage. When they left the boat behind to return home, all the villagers were wearing smiles whose meaning no outsider could know.
The boat was a living legend that only they could keep, and some day it would become a village symbol that would hold their community together.
This is a story that is always quoted when it comes to making desirable culture. This story touches our hearts all the more when life is so tough as it is these days and when people with different ideas are in sharp conflict with each other.
I hope every job people do together will turn out this way. Not to mention the countless festivals that each region is eager to host, it would be nice if all the plays and performances were like what happened in the story.
I wonder if we could build in this manner a business culture or political culture that would be applauded all over the world.

* The writer is a music critic and professor of art administration at the Korean National University of Arts. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.


by Hong Seung-chan
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