[FOUNTAIN]Fathers, sons have a bond unbreakableUpset by a disappointing test score, a father reproached his son, “If you fail the next test again, I will disown you.” A month later, the son had a test at school. The father asked, “How did it go this time?” The son said, “Do I know you?”
The twist on the joke, common among teenagers, is that the unbreakable relationship between a father and a son can be severed, at least rhetorically.
Not many sons understand the unconditional love of fathers, who are willing to risk everything for their children. Similarly, many fathers, who had all been teenage boys themselves, do not understand the world of youngsters. The misunderstanding produces confrontations and collisions. True reconciliation of a father and a son often takes place when the son becomes a father himself.
A generation ago, a father sent his son to a university in Seoul. Without knowing the financial sacrifice the father made, the son enjoyed a lavish lifestyle. Furious at his son’s spending, the father decided to not to send his allowance. The son sent an emergency telegram, “Father, your son will die of starvation.” In response, the father wrote, “All right, whatever you like.”
Enraged by the father’s letter, the son disowned the father and never contacted the family again. He worked as hard as he could and was determined to succeed. One day, decades later, the son was married and had children. He realized that the father’s last telegram was a turning point of his life. That year, he returned to his hometown for Chuseok, but his father had already passed away.
The father left a letter for his son. “I have waited for you all my life, but I might have to leave this world now. I have never forgotten you for a moment. Since you broke off from me, not one day went by without pain. In the last telegram, I wanted to encourage you to live your life in full. I have always loved you.”
Shin Ki-nam, the chairman of the ruling Uri Party, is under fire for his father’s collaboration with Japan during the occupation. He said, “I would have been far more proud if I were born a son of an independence fighter.” With his political career collapsing, Mr. Shin expressed his feelings frankly, but denouncing his own father is not right. No one can choose his father and change his destiny. In his fifties, Mr. Shin is a son who is now a father himself.
by Chun Young-gi
The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.