Pirates are still the robbers of the sea

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Pirates are still the robbers of the sea


Julius Caesar, who famously said, “The die is cast,” was kidnapped by pirates when he was young. They were the Cilician pirates who appear in Homer’s epic poem the “Odyssey.” They specialized in the slave trade and demanded a ransom of 20 talents of gold from the Roman Empire, or about $10 million today. But Caesar insisted the ransom was too small and that he was worth 50 talents. Upon his release, Caesar pursued the pirates and crucified them all.

Piracy seems to go with the maritime trade. During the Greek and Roman Empires, piracy prevailed in the Aegean Sea. When Spain and England were competing for control of the sea, pirates were active in the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean, which became the backdrop of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series.

Francis Drake was a captain of the English raid fleet and his activities were officially endorsed by Queen Elizabeth I of England. But to the Spaniards, he was a pirate. While Spain demanded that he be handed over, Queen Elizabeth knighted him instead. He became a national hero. While the Spanish Armada was mobilized to invade England, Drake led the English fleet in defeating the Spanish, opening the era of the British Empire.

Partly because of Drake’s heroic feat, pirate literature was popular in 18th century England. For many men, the call of the ocean signified the fulfillment of dreams and adventure.

Daniel Defoe was the most notable writer of pirate literature, along with Robinson Crusoe. He described their lives so vividly that people suspected that he was a pirate himself. Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” is the pinnacle of adventure novels, partially because the one-legged pirate Long John Silver is such a likable villain.

But no matter how appealing and adventurous they might seem, pirates are still criminals. Johnny Depp may be stylish and Orlando Bloom may be charming, but in real life, pirates are nothing more than the robbers of the sea.

The Somali pirates that took over the Korean freighter Samho Jewelry chose the wrong ship this time. They were completely crushed by the Navy’s Cheonghae Unit, which deployed the Naval destroyer Choi Young as part of its rescue mission.

It is fitting that the Choi Young was instrumental in the rescue mission. It is named after a Goryeo Dynasty admiral who defeated Japanese pirates long ago.

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

By Park Jong-kwon
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