[OUTLOOK]The future is still promisingI went to a fortune-teller once, but it was not to have my fortune told. One of my friends wanted to know when he was going to get married so we visited Mia-ri, a district where many fortune-tellers’ have parlors. We picked a parlor that looked genuine and went inside where we were ushered into a guest room. After a moment, we sat across from a blind fortune-teller with a table between us. My friend told the fortune teller information about his birth ― the time, date and year. While the fortune-teller found a place in a book, we felt awkward for no reason so giggled. The fortune-teller then told us to leave, saying it was not the right time that day. We could not know whether the fortune teller was upset or if it was really not a good time.
Nearly 20 years have passed since. These days, utterly different things are going on in another area. Surprisingly, the affluent Apgujeong-dong in southern Seoul has become a Mecca for fortune-tellers’ cafes. Most of the clientele are youths in their 20s or early 30s. They are not ashamed of visiting fortune-tellers as the older generation was some 20 years ago. They don’t hesitate to ask for their fortunes to be told. Couples come to such places to find out if their relationship is meant to be. Western fortune-telling methods like tarot cards and horoscopes are also popular.
One fortune-teller in Apgujeong-dong says that in the past, people hid details about themselves to see whether a fortune-teller was good or not but that these days, the young pour out all the information about themselves so it is easy to tell their fortunes.
If I look on the bright side, perhaps the young generation simply wants to talk about their life with fortune-tellers in a casual manner, instead of absolutely trusting what the fortune-tellers say. Such cafes have bright and neat atmospheres after all, don’t they?
But I feel worried that they probably visit fortune-tellers because they want to find a last thin hope in the face of an unknown future, even more so than 20 years ago. It is not normal by any standards that fortune-telling is the most popular service on Internet portals or mobile phones with the young generation.
People have never been able to see clearly what their future will bring since the time when people used the shell of a tortoise to tell their fortune. In this era, all kind of information is abundant on the Internet and thousands of artificial satellites orbit the earth, replacing the stars in the sky. But still, people want to see how their future will be by having their palms read or using a crystal ball. The youth might want to know the future even more desperately because their future is even more unknown due to a shortage of jobs in our bad economy.
However, don’t you think the future of our young is too precious to be left to fortune-tellers? It feels unfair if the future is predestined by one’s palm or the features of one’s face, rather than able to be changed according to one’s efforts and aspirations.
The young of the Joseon dynasty must have had less scientific thinking than those of today. But our ancestors refused to believe that their future was predestined and could be read by fortune-tellers.
Let me tell you a story from the reign of King Sejong. When the king fell sick, the ladies of the court staged a shamanistic ritual. Confucian students then ran to the scene and threw out a shamanist. How dare they disturb the ritual if they wished the King to get well! A eunuch informed the king who said, “I was worried whether Confucian students were being trained well or not, but now I need not worry. Just by hearing that story, I feel I’m getting well already.”
The young at that time probably did not need to count on fortune-tellers because they had such a wise king. That is different from the youth of today when chaotic politics are hindering the economy. But still, do not run to fortune-tellers. The young should use their time to become more competent, instead of consulting fortune-tellers.
If the young are still curious about their futures, I will tell your fortune because I feel responsibility as one of the proceeding generation who failed to lay out a bright future for you.
I consulted I Ching to find divination for you; The book says thunder roars so that unsolved businesses will be solved. People tremble in fear when thunder roars but they laugh afterwards. Even though this is a hard time, if you keep trying, you will become happy in the end.
Remember that effort always pays off. The divination for the young sounds like the one for the country as well. That is natural because the future of the youth is the future of our country. Even though it is a hard time in many senses, if the young never give up but keep on going, the future of Korea is very promising, indeed.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Lee Hoon-beom