[FOUNTAIN]Chung in stripes

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[FOUNTAIN]Chung in stripes

Medieval Europeans considered stripes the pattern of a demon. The obscure pattern confused people and made it hard to clearly distinguish an object. Also, it reflected contempt for crossbreeding. The religious conviction inspired by the Bible passage, “Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you,” was also a reason to disdain stripes, and wearing striped clothes was no different than breaking a religious law. In 1295, Pope Boniface VIII banned the wearing of clothes with stripes, so they were exclusively worn by “outsiders.” In order to project ostracism and a sense of a legal violation, prostitutes, acrobats, prisoners and executioners wore stripes. Prostitutes wore scarves or aglets with stripe patterns and executioners wore striped pants or hoods. Clowns had stripes on their shirts or hats as a sign of their class, and prisoners wore striped suits.
Later in history, stripes began to symbolize romance. During the early Romantic Period in the late 18th century, stripes were a most celebrated design. Striped cuffs and shoulder straps became sensationally popular in society. Stripes also represented resistance. During the French Revolution, they symbolized change and diversity. Many revolutionaries wore striped outfits to propagate the philosophy of equality, and ordinary people followed the trend. The tricolor flag of France, for liberty, equality and fraternity, was created in the same spirit. The pattern of a demon turned into a design for the nation.
In the 20th century, stripes were no longer a symbol of disgrace, and they became a symbol of youthfulness and health. Companies began selling striped shirts and sportswear with striped patterns, and the products sold well. That is why stripes never disappear in designing swim suits and beach parasols. The pattern of evil has finally been turned into a popular pattern.
Hyundai Motor Group’s Chairman Chung Mong-koo appeared in court for the first session of his trial wearing a “Papillon prisoner” uniform; a blue background with purple stripes. When he was first detained, he consistently wore formal suits during the prosecution’s investigations, so his sudden change of style attracted attention.
The history of stripes shows various meanings, so interpretations are varied about why Mr. Chung wore the striped uniform. The court will soon decide whether it should grant bail to Mr. Chung. We wonder if the final decision of the court will be made to end Mr. Chung’s nightmare or if there will be efforts to continue to suppress the evil it sees in his consciousness.


by Park Jai-hyun

The writer is a deputy city news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.
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