[FOUNTAIN]China’s moon dream soon to become realOne day in the reign of Emperor Yao in ancient China, ten suns rose in the sky at the same time. They were the ten sons of the Emperor of Heaven and the Goddess of the Sun. The ten suns were supposed to take turns every day, but this day, they mischievously appeared together.
As the suns scorched the earth, people prayed to the heavens to save them from the heat. The Emperor of Heaven summoned Hou Yi, a legendary archer, to solve the problem. Yi came down to the earth and shot and killed all but one of the suns.
However, Yi was banished from heaven because the Emperor was furious that the archer had killed his sons. Chang Er, Yi’s wife who had come down to the earth with him, was also greatly disappointed. One day, Yi realized that his remaining life wasn’t long and went to Mount Kunlun to visit the Queen Mother of the West, who had the elixir of immortality. Yi persuaded the Queen Mother to give him two doges of elixir for himself and his wife.
However, Chang Er drank the entire elixir while Yi was not home. Her body became light and floated into the sky. Chang Er felt so guilty that she hid herself in the moon. Because of her sin of betrayal, she was transformed into a toad.
Chinese people consider Chang Er to be the first human to go to the moon, although she is a mythical figure. In addition, they identified the dream of going to the moon with Yi’s wish to meet Chang Er in the moon.
The dream of the Chinese people is soon to become a reality. On October 12, China launched Shenzhou 6, the second manned spaceflight from China. Shenzhou means “a ship of the wondrous sky” in Chinese. It refers to a carriage that the Queen Mother of the West rode when she visited the enchanted land. Shenzhou also symbolizes a vehicle that could bring Chang Er and Yi together.
Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, visited the China Aerospace Command and Control Center in Beijing in 1988.
He said, “The first one to dream of going to the moon was a beautiful Chinese woman, but I, an American, was the first human to land on the moon.”
It is not difficult to imagine how the Chinese scientists felt when they heard Mr. Armstrong’s comment. Fifteen years later, China launched its first manned space mission. Beijing also plans to launch a lunar probe around 2021, the centennial of the founding of the Communist Party of China.
They have already picked a name for that explorer, Chang Er 1. The Chinese must want to mediate the reunion of Yi and Chang Er.
by You Sang-chul
The writer is the Asia news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.