[VIEWPOINT]Let’s step back and calm our emotions

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[VIEWPOINT]Let’s step back and calm our emotions

In these times when emotions are running high and sweeping the nation like a tsunami, you can feel like an outsider if you aren’t as moved as the others.
If you do get excited and join the crowd, you’re OK. But if you can’t work yourself up, you may feel alienated. In extreme cases, such people might even be called unpatriotic.
More than anything, the World Cup soccer games are creating such a frenzy. The whole country is hot with World Cup enthusiasm.
Everyone seems to feel that the fate of the nation depends on Korean victories in the World Cup matches, and that all other problems will be solved with wins.
Although there may be many other important things to report, even the public broadcast stations report nothing but World Cup soccer.
If our team does well in the World Cup in Germany, we will gain confidence as a soccer power and the people’s morale will get a great boost.
But will our country decline if our performance is poor?
It would seem obvious that victory or defeat at soccer is not directly related to the fate of the nation.
Brazil and Argentina, two countries that have enjoyed considerable succeess at the World Cup, are both suffering economically.
Even North Korea was admired when the country advanced to the World Cup quarterfinal 40 years ago. Therefore, I think we should ease our enjoyment of the World Cup as a sports event.
Because the people’s expectations are too high, I am worried about what will happen if the team fails to meet them.
Of course, it will be good if our team wins. But even if they lose, we have to accept defeat as a part of the game and get ready for the next one.
What is important is doing our best at the games. It is not good to make people go mad with soccer and lose control as old communist bloc countries or some South American countries did.
Even after the World Cup, the Earth will still move around the sun and we have to live on.
The next thing on my mind is the emotion attached to the South-North rail reconnection.
Some people seem to think, with emotion, as if all inter-Korean problems will be resolved if only the rail lines are reconnected.
But will this be so?
They say that the reconnected railway line will become an iron silk road. To be a real iron silk road, goods and manpower should be transported to Europe back and forth through North Korea via the reconnected rail lines.
But there are too many obstacles. Even if the rail lines between the South and the North are reconnected and trains run between the South and the North once again, other problems will not resolve themselves.
Our economic situation is not so good as to justify pouring in national resources for such a symbolic event.
We were very much excited about the South-North summit meeting in June 2000 and expected an economic boom if the North opened its doors. We were also excited when the Dorasan station, where the train for North Korea will start, was completed.
People say that the rail reconnection will be the starting point of national unification, but there is no consensus on what kind of unification it will be.
We felt something hot in our chests when we saw people from the North and the South gather together and sing the song “Our Wish is Unification,” hand in hand.
Singing together is good, but I worry whether they think they’ve done a good job by singing the song but are not willing to do what is needed to actually bring unification about.
I think we should switch from unification of emotion to unification of practical preparation.
Last of all, I note our excitement when exclaiming, “Dokdo is our land!” The Dokdo islets are our national territory and they are under our occupation. It hurts our feelings to hear that Japan claims the islets as its territory, but there is no need for us to be excessively excited. If it becomes an international issue, we can be dragged into Japan’s strategy.
We had better reflect on whether or not we have neglected efforts to study historical evidence, taken action according to international law and promoted cooperation with other countries. Instead of noisy emotion, we need cool-headed preparation.
If by some chance Japan proceeds to occupy the islets with military force and demonstrates its military might, I wonder whether our country is prepared for a military response and has a plan for diplomatic cooperation with our allies.
We have sent fighter planes and warships to the Dokdo islets, but the problem cannot be solved with just a demonstration.
In preparation for a diplomatic conflict, it is urgent that we get our allies to stand on our side and help us in earnest.
For now, it’s all right if I’m the only one who’s not in the grip of emotion as others are.
I feel alienated as I needlessly think about various things. Having too much on my mind seems to be a kind of disease as well.

* The writer is a columnist for JoongAng Ilbo. Translation by JoongAng Daily staff.


by Choi Woo-seok

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