Emboldened people powerThe South Korean naval ship Cheonan sank in March from a torpedo attack. The corvette sank to the bottom of the sea with 46 sailors who never came back alive.
But the tragedy and shock was not completely wasted. Navy diver Chief Master Sgt. Han Joo-ho risked his life and rummaged through the seabed for missing sailors, the captain of a trawler hoisted up explosive debris even naval detectors failed to find and thousands of people gave support to the victims’ families in the form of words and money.
The power of populace shone again after the North’s bombardment of the populated frontline island Yeonpyeong. They rushed to the scene with their packages of courage, compassion and words of hope.
The marines who died from North Korea’s fierce attack on Yeonpyeong underscored the vulnerability and risk of marine lives. But applications for the Marine Corps rose from the previous year. In fact, the most dangerous search position in the Marine Corps has had the most competition.
The residents of Yeonpyeong fled from their homes to escape to the mainland as artillery rained down on the island. Public bathhouses provided them with free shelters.
Refugees were able to recover from shock in warmth. Lee Sang-dal, who served as a doctor at a public clinic in Yeonpyeong 20 years ago, donated 50 million won ($44,000) to help aid the refugees. Many volunteers arrived on the island, making sacrifices not because of an order, but out of empathy for the people.
When united, the people of a democracy can withstand any kind of fierce attack from a militant state. South Vietnam was defeated by the communist north because they lacked the spirit to defend themselves. The Britons overpowered the German army led by Adolf Hitler because they were under the command of inspirational leaders like Winston Churchill.
Here in South Korea, we have people who picked themselves up from the rubble of war in the 1950s and initiated modernization and democratization.
No matter how incompetent the government and military may be and how disturbing the opposition and pro-North Korean groups may be, the country is safe from any external peril if the spirit of the people remains untarnished.
Now the leaders and military must get their act together to inspire and embolden people power. When culminated, it will be stronger than any weaponry to defeat North Korea.