You don’t have to have it all, Mr. Kim

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You don’t have to have it all, Mr. Kim



This is an ancient Chinese tale. Four travelers got together and made one wish each. The first traveler said he wished to become the governor of Yangzhou Province. The second said he hoped to become wealthy. The third said he wanted to become an immortal man who rides on a crane. Then the last traveler said, “I wish to become the governor of Yangzhou Province, ride on a crane and fly to heaven with gold in my pocket.” In short, he wanted power, money and honor.

That’s how the expression “Yangzhou Crane” became a synonym for human greed. Chinese poet Su Dongpo lamented in his poem “Green Bamboo House” that “if one could enjoy wealth and honor and become immortal as well, we wouldn’t say the Yangzhou Crane is greedy.”

The history of the city of Yangzhou goes back 2,500 years. Originally, Yangzhou was a riverside village with willow trees. Ancient documents portray Yangzhou as a “city of willows.” The character for Yang was then changed to a character meaning “hand” instead of “tree” during the reign of Emperor Wen of the Sui Dynasty. He was the one who ambitiously began construction of a grand canal. Yangzhou was the south gateway at the Grand Canal that connects the Yellow River in the north and the Chang River in the south. Maybe the construction project required many hands and that’s why the character was changed.

Yangzhou was also the center of Southern Chinese civilization and the gateway to the world. During the Tang Dynasty, over 5,000 foreign merchants from Silla, Arabia and Europe lived there. Choi Chi-won, who passed the Chinese imperial examination and put down Huang Cao’s rebellion, and Marco Polo, the Venetian merchant known for “The Travels of Marco Polo,” also stayed here. The Chang River is also called the Yangtze River after the famous Yangtze Bridge in Yangzhou and Westerners mistook the name of the bridge as the name of the river.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il recently visited Yangzhou. He made the long journey by train and met with former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who was born here, 20 years after his father Kim Il Sung met Jiang in Yangzhou. At the time, Kim Il Sung told Jiang that he was pleased to have met every third-generation leader of China. Of course, we can’t know what Kim’s son discussed in the meeting. But hopefully his trip provided him with a chance to learn from the story of the Yangzhou Crane and break the illusion that he, too, can have it all.

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

By Park Jong-kwon

양주학(揚州鶴)

옛날 중국 고사(故事)다. 여행자 4명이 둘러앉아 하나씩 소원을 말했다. 첫째는 양주자사(揚州刺史)를 원했다. 둘째는 거부(巨富)가 되기를 바랬다. 셋째는 학(鶴)에 올라탄 신선을 꿈꿨다. 그러자 마지막 하나가 "나는 양주자사가 돼 만금(萬金)을 허리에 두르고 학을 타고 하늘에 오르겠다"고 했다. 한마디로 권력과 금력에 명예까지 취하겠다는 것이다. 인간의 끝없는 욕심을 빗댄 '양주학(揚州鶴)'의 유래다. 중국의 위대한 시인 소동파도 시 '녹균헌(綠筠軒)'에서 '부귀공명을 누리면서 신선까지 될 수 있다면 어찌 양주학이란 말이 나왔겠나'라고 탄식한다.

양저우의 도시 역사는 2500년을 거슬러 올라간다. 본디 버드나무 흐드러진 강변 마을이었을 것이다. 고대 기록에 '버드나무 양(楊)'을 붙인 양주(楊州)로 나오기 때문이다. 그런데, '나무 목(木)' 변 대신 '손 수(手)' 변이 붙은 양주(揚州)라는 지명은 수(隋) 문제(文帝) 때 정착된다. 바로 '대운하'의 주인공이다. 운하를 파는 데는 버드나무보다 삽질하는 손이 더 필요했기 때문일까. 양저우는 황하와 장강(양쯔강)을 잇는 대운하의 남쪽 관문이었다.

양저우는 강남 문물의 집산지이자 해외의 관문이었다. 당(唐) 때는 신라·아랍·유럽의 상인 5000여 명이 거주했다고 한다. '토황소격문'으로' 유명한 신라 최치원도, '동방견문록'의 마르코 폴로도 여기에 머물렀다. 장강(長江)을 양자강(揚子江)으로 부르는 것도 이곳 양자교(揚子橋)에서 비롯됐다고 한다. 왕래하던 서양인들이 다리 이름을 강 이름으로 오해했다는 것이다.

북한 김정일이 양저우를 찾았다. 불원천리(不遠千里) 기차를 타고 가 이곳이 고향인 장쩌민 전 국가주석을 만났다. 김일성이 양저우에서 장쩌민을 만나 "중국의 3세대 지도자를 모두 만나 기쁘다"고 한 지 20년만이다. 물론 무슨 이야기를 나눴는지를 알기란 어렵다. 그러나 김정일이 차제에 '양주학(揚州鶴)'을 배워 빨리 미망(迷妄)에서 벗어났으면 한다.

박종권 논설위원

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