[FOUNTAIN]Misrepresentation of octopus’s natureBecause of my ink, you have called me, octopus, by the graceful name of “writing fish.” However, my image is still nothing but wicked. When you portray a Martian, whom you have never even seen, you make it look like me. In the science fiction classic, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” writer Jules Verne depicted me as a marine monster the submarine fights against. The Westerners scorn me as the “devil fish.”
However, it is you who consider me as one of the best delicacies. At every ancestral worship rite, I become the most important and expensive ingredient on the table. A properly made soup for the rite should never fail to include octopus. You regard my numerous sucker cups as the stars on heaven and cut my arms countless times to make thin slices to be put on the ancestor worship table.
I am an intelligent invertebrate. In your experiments, I successfully passed the maze and opened the bottle top. However, I am rather on the slow side in the underwater world. You cannot survive the wild with intelligence alone so I have developed three secret tactics. While my eyes are color blind, they can sense light waves. I have no trouble finding a mate or game from a distance. The second tactic is camouflage. Unlike chameleons, which send signals through their blood, I can change the color of my skin through specialized skin cells called chromatophores. Last but not least, my secret weapon is patience. When I encounter a predator, I look for a hole. Crouched in the small space, I can endure up to half a year of hiding by feeding off my own body.
Unlike your misconception, I am a very ethical creature. My brothers and sisters are often caught with their arms entangled with one another. You have criticized that we devour each others’ arms like beasts. However, it was a sacred act of mating. I confess that my third right arm is a hectocotylus, the genital organ. How dare you, who catch my brothers and sisters at that precious moment, talk about morals? Speaking of ethics, I should not forget to mention the solemn death of my sisters. Upon laying her eggs, the females will protect them for six months until eventually dying of exhaustion. They provide their remains as food for the new-born octopi.
So it is not right to compare the excessively expanded management of the conglomerates and the love affairs of philanderers. Recently, when an outsourcing broker created a controversy by bribing some prosecutors, police officials and television station executives, you even used an expression, “octopus-like lobby.” I understand that it tastes good to chew my arms, but don’t cite me when you speak ill of others. If your courts have a conscience, you must let us file a defamation suit.
by Lee Chul-ho
The writer is a JoongAng Ilbo editorial writer.