[Outlook]Efforts of Kang, Lee lift the heart

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[Outlook]Efforts of Kang, Lee lift the heart

Kang Sue-jin, 40, the principal dancer at Germany’s Stuttgart Ballet, will become kammertanzerin. It is equivalent to an athlete entering a hall of fame.
The German word kammertanzerin literally means a dancer at court. That designation is like artists being granted a title among their peers. Korea has a similar system. People good at traditional arts are needed as intangible cultural assets.
Ms. Kang’s nickname is steel butterfly. The two seem to contradict each other but they are well blended in her body.
While expressing the tight tension of steel, the dancer moves her waste and hands as though drawing sharp and clear lines with a sword. She then blends that sharpness with light and gentle moves like those of a butterfly that flies in the air freely in all directions.
Just as a butterfly defies gravity and well-processed steel does not break in fire, Ms. Kang is strong and tense while being flexible and light at the same time.
We can find out what makes all this possible if we look at her feet.
She has hideous feet that look like a gnarled old tree. They are the result of constant practice and strict self-discipline.
Ms. Kang is so committed and devoted to practice that she throws away hundreds of toeshoes every season.
That is not only physical practice. Her soul is entirely immersed in dance during practice. Because of that devotion, her dancing moves an audience deeply when she performs on stage.
She once said that if one thinks that they cannot perform any more, then that is enough, and a person is done in art. But that goes beyond the field of art.
The marathon runner Lee Bong-ju, who recently won the Seoul Marathon, is a good example. He is 37 years old, an age many regard as quite old for athletes. But he did not quit his passion.
In the race, Mr. Lee ran past Kenya’s Paul Kiprop Kirui after 40 kilometers and sprinted ahead, making a dramatic comeback victory.
Even though Mr. Kirui is 10 years younger than Mr. Lee, the Korean marathoner was 25 seconds faster and 137 meters ahead when he crossed the finish line.
Mr. Lee did not run only with his body. He was full of energy in his spirit. He became the winner six years after he captured the 2001 Boston Marathon, putting to rest any public assumption that he has passed his peak.
Mr. Lee’s tremendous effort gave new strength to Koreans who feel exhausted with their day-to-day life.
On the day when Mr. Lee won, compliments poured onto the Internet.
In particular, one posting by a young person caught my eye. It read, “Bong-ju clenched his teeth and ran toward his dream even though he is nearly 40. But I was feeling frustrated at the age of 25. I was ashamed of myself. I will clench my teeth and start running again, just like he did.”
The marathoner made us realize how we should run in the race of our life.
The key is simple. We should run for what’s important to us and we should run at full speed until the last day of our lives.
What is important to us is not necessarily something grand. For Mr. Lee, it was his wife and his family, who gave him strength whenever he felt exhausted during a race.
Because he had his family in his mind, he was able to run hard until the finish line.
While watching his magnificent effort, many Koreans made new resolutions in their lives.
Ms. Kang has been regarded as one of the best ballerinas because she was totally devoted to dancing.
Mr. Lee made great achievements because he was also devoted to running, making all Koreans feel excited and inspired.
Now is the time for you and I to be devoted to our work and run to the best of our ability.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Chung Jin-hong
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