[Outlook]Drying Bang’s tears

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[Outlook]Drying Bang’s tears

‘Mother, my dear mother. You said you would be back at six o’clock on Friday evening. Where are you now? Why aren’t you coming home? They call you ‘the late Park Wang-ja.’ Why do they put extra words in front of your name? Why?

“As your son, I feel terrible that I can’t do anything to change things. I can’t do anything but look at your photo, bite my lip and swallow my tears even though it is hard to accept the reality. I told you to have a nice trip. I didn’t say goodbye. You said you wanted to see me get a job and have a good life. I don’t want to finish writing this. Please, give me a piece of your skirt, if you have to go. Then I can grab it at least, when I cry (1:44 a.m., July 16, 2008).”

This is part of the message that Bang Jae-jung, the son of the late Park Wang-ja, wrote on his Web site, www.cyworld.com/matean.

Park went on a trip to Mount Kumgang in North Korea on July 16 and was shot to death by a North Korean soldier.

It wasn’t a long posting but I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down while reading it. I felt sad just reading it, but I can’t even imagine how sad Bang must have felt.

Looking at the time when he posted the writing, he must have written it the night after the funeral ceremony on July 15.

After he buried his mother, he probably couldn’t do anything else and he stayed up until late, writing the letter. He must have cried endlessly while he worked. After finishing, he probably couldn’t stop crying and couldn’t go to bed and sleep. Who will dry his tears?

The British government recently decided to give former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher a state funeral when she reaches the end of her days. She is the first former prime minister to be given the honor since Winston Churchill, and the very first one in the 21st century. Lady Thatcher is still healthy, but Britain has announced it will give her the accolade to express the state’s respect. This is not because she was the Iron Lady who cured the “British disease.” Rather, it is because she was a prime minister who dried the people’s tears like a mother or a wife.

In 1982, Thatcher wrote letters to the families of some 250 soldiers who were killed in the Falklands War against Argentina. The letters were not cliche. The former prime minister made records of every soldier and wrote letters as if she was their mother or a wife who had lost her husband. That was why Thatcher was truly great. Drying the people’s tears is the beginning and the end of great leadership.

President Lee Myung-bak should do the same. But how did he actually respond? It is said that the incident was reported belatedly and surrounded by confusion. The president delivered a speech at the National Assembly on an appeasement policy with North Korea and didn’t mention a word about the incident when an innocent citizen had been shot to death for no reason. There can’t be any excuse for the president’s improper response. The president has neglected his primary duty ? protecting people’s lives and national security.

The president must repent and should write a sincere letter to Park’s son.

It was confirmed that the North Korean military fired at Park and there is a witness to the incident. However, because of the incompetence of the government, the case will likely remain unsolved. A thorough investigation was not made and it seems that the government waits for time to pass so that people forget about it and move on to something else. The dead person is buried now but the living person’s tears aren’t dry yet.

Who will dry the son’s tears? If the country can’t dry his tears, it is not a decent place to live.

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

by Chung Jin-hong
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