[FOUNTAIN]Money is the god of modern timesWishing someone wealth used to be a well-meaning greeting, but we are now living in a time when being wealthy has become an obsession. We were shocked to learn that a young woman and her father, who were infatuated with the idea of winning Lotto but lost all their fortune, attempted suicide, which cost the woman her life. In colleges, students attend lectures on the science of getting rich and discuss how to marry a millionaire. Society has fallen into a vortex of money.
When accumulating 1 billion won ($870,000) has become a fad, children’s book writer Gwon Jeong-saeng says he could live comfortably on 100,000 won a month. His two-room shanty on Bilbaengee Hill in Andong, North Gyeongsang province, is too small for four adults to sit in. But he pities the residents of Seoul, who he says are too obsessed with money. Those suffering from poverty throw themselves from buildings or into the river. Some mothers and fathers take the lives of their children along with their own. How sad and pathetic are they? When Korea was a much poorer country, parents did anything to raise their children, selling their hair and cutting off their own flesh. Even if the children might have been starving, the parents never gave up.
What is more pitiful about Seoulites is that there are too many great people. As the number of successful people grew, average people became more frustrated. Let’s do away with the great. A peaceful time in the truest sense is when average people come and go unharmed.
Writer Lee Cheong-yong, who is also an expert in living without money, condemned the materialistic society in his novel “People in the Town of KkoBang.” He said, “If we could indict money instead of people, all the money in the world should be pronounced guilty or sentenced to the death penalty. I would like to send money to jail and set those people who are imprisoned because of money free.”
At one time, Koreans used to say that having no money makes a man guilty while having money makes him innocent. Today, materialism has transcended the boundary of law. Money has become the god of modern times and has made a puppet of the people. There are not many people who can reject money, but as rare as they are, it’s refreshing to witness these independent souls.
by Chung Jae-suk
The writer is a deputy culture news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.