[Viewpoint] If real life could imitate art

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[Viewpoint] If real life could imitate art

Witnessing something extraordinary and sensational lifts one’s heart or takes your breath away. Then without thinking, you applaud like crazy and sit still, letting the emotional residue soak in. When you see a truly moving film, you remain in your seat, watching the credits even after the lights go on. You try to retain the sensation as long as possible.

There is a music program on TV called “7080” that presents live performances of music from the 1970s and ’80s. I remember once seeing a famous female folk singer perform “Unchained Melody.” She sang so passionately that I found myself mesmerized. She was unlike many singers nowadays who lack soul, shouting “Thank You!” even before the applause. This case was different. The singer’s voice had a passion that matched her movements, transmitting a force that transfixed the audience. After hitting the climax, she slowly let the emotions ebb until the orchestra played the last note. It took a few seconds for the audience to burst into rapturous applause. Ending with such devotion leaves a strong and lasting impression. In the short “Danse Macabre” program that won her gold at the 2009 World Figure Skating Championships, Kim Yu-na came to a dramatic finish with a frozen pose after a powerful spin and spiral sequence, accentuating her confident and bewitching aura. If she had dropped her arm too quickly or kept it too long in the air, the magical moment would have been lost. She knew the three seconds served as a cue to the audience to start breathing again and roar aloud.

It is the dexterity and competence of the performer that creates a powerful connection with the audience. The staggering charisma to fill the stage, versatility to sway the audience, and passionate commitment to art augment the singularity and mastery of the performance.

The year 2009 is coming to an end. Young and the old alike look back upon the last 12 months as they make plans for the new year. I ponder what has moved me and the society as a whole this year. Politics in theory can also provoke deep emotions through extraordinary leadership and a hopeful vision. Elections can bring about a reawakening and stage a drama with unexpected turns. But unfortunately, post-election politics often evoke disillusionment and disappointment.

This year was tainted with endless political disputes and conflicts coupled with an economic slump that deepened public frustrations and burdens. The National Assembly is still wrangling over appropriating next year’s budget. It raised a racket over the government’s proposal on Sejong City and the four-rivers project and is now fighting over the entire budget bill. Why is it that there exists only acrimony in our political scene? Sometimes we wonder if politics has to work that way. One lawmaker retorts, “We legislators seek support from the public, not opposition.”

I personally dislike quarreling. I hope not to see disputes on streets, in the political arena or in courtrooms in the new year even if my professional career will be at risk if legal disputes lessen. We have grown so familiar with politicians’ fighting and protesting - shown daily in the media. If this keeps up, we may see bellicosity establish itself as part of our culture.

As we waste time fighting among ourselves, a nearby country with a staggering rise in economic and diplomatic status promises to go full speed ahead “by raising the sails high to cross the seas.”

Still, there was good news that ended the year on a hopeful note. Hyundai Motor Co. ended labor negotiations peacefully with the union pledging not to strike for the first time in 15 years. We were hit with the novelty that labor negotiations could reach an agreement without a violent dispute. The news bred the hope that next year we can see more of these unfamiliar yet touching events and that change is possible. Tending manners, swallowing tears, keeping one’s head up despite poverty, the conservatives and liberals bucking against their ideology, and not losing one’s cool when a female college student calls a short man a loser are examples.

We certainly can do better. I hope we can wrap up next year on a happier, more compassionate and more tolerant note.


*The writer is a lawyer.
Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Kim Young-hye
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