The raindrops of summer

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The raindrops of summer

Raindrops are water molecules that collect in the sky and fall down to the ground. As raindrops fall straight from high above in the sky they appear as lines to human eyes because of the shape of their movement.

Thus, in Chinese, there is the expression “feet of raindrops.” The expression alludes to the fact that raindrops often look like they have feet as they fall from the sky.

Du Fu, the great poet of the Tang Dynasty, was the first to use this expression in his work.

When he was 49, the poor poet migrated from place to place, escaping from the chaos of a terrible war.

Finally, he managed to find a hut to live in. It was a shabby thatched cottage.

But in August that year, strong winds blew away the roof. He crossed a river to find thatches that had flown away.

But it was to no avail. Just when the tired poet found the thatches, the kids of the neighborhood grabbed them and ran away.

He came home and had to sleep in the cottage under a roof that leaked. He tossed and turned inside the leaking cottage and was concerned about his children, who also had difficulties sleeping.

He described the scene in his poem, “Feet of Raindrops Keep Falling Like Hemp.”

A yearly publication during the reign of King Seongjong of the Joseon Dynasty contained the translation of Du Fu’s poems.

In the book, the expression “feet of raindrops” appeared in Korean, as well.

Koreans often say the “feet of raindrops storm in,” or the “feet of raindrops are thick.” These expressions originally came from the Chinese poet’s work.

The expressions appear frequently in the journal written by Admiral Yi Sun-sin of the Joseon Dynasty while he fought the Japanese during their invasion in 1592.

He wrote, the “feet of raindrops are like hemp.” Some interpret this as meaning the rain was as thick as hemp, but from the original Chinese text it must describe the state of rain falling ceaselessly.

Clouds seem to have flocked over East Asia.

These days, in Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan, heavy rains pour down. It is quite pleasant when it rains since it cools down the sizzling heat of the summer. But when it rains too heavily it can cause serious damage.

Strong winds and rains are caused by a large difference in air pressure, and they usually bring dangers and disasters.

Fortunately, the rainy season this year has not caused serious damage to the Korean Peninsula. But looking at disasters in China, Taiwan and other countries caused by heavy rains, we cannot assume that Korea will be an exception.

It’s never harmful to be prepared for a potential disaster.


The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Yoo Kwang-jong [kjyoo@joongang.co.kr]
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