Deep condolences to Norwegians

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Deep condolences to Norwegians

The death toll from the cataclysmic attacks in downtown Oslo and on the small island nearby has hit 76. That may seem small compared to the approximately 3,000 victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Yet it may be a far bigger shock for Norway, which has a population of 4.9 million.

Moreover, the horrendous terrorist acts took place in a peaceful country, killing young people at a youth camp in the most brutal and tragic way. The perpetrator of the crime remained calm throughout, as if he were doing the right thing, fueling the deepening frustration and sorrow of the Norwegian people.

The dramatic increase of race crimes and the faltering multicultural policies in many parts of Europe have already been ringing a sharp alarm for citizens of the continent. Extreme nationalists are increasingly wielding violence against innocent Muslims, gypsies, Asians and Africans in Germany, Russia, France and Hungary under the banner of neo-Nazism.

But Norway was undaunted as it struggled to keep its reputation as a civilized, inclusive nation. Now, 10 percent of Norway’s population is made up of immigrants - with half of them Muslims - who coexist with others peacefully. But they never knew such a brutal hate crime could play out in their neighborhood. Perhaps evil forces have attempted to deliver an apocalyptic message to humanity through Norway.

Yet Norwegians have proved that they are not a weak people, as they strive to overcome the unprecedented tragedy with maturity and unparalleled resilience. A march on Monday in memory of the deceased was attended by hundreds of thousands of citizens, each holding a rose as a token of love for those who died. Islamic immigrants, too, took part in the parade under the national flag of Norway. Leading the mourning nation in a minute of silence, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said, “Evil can kill a person but it cannot kill a people.”

For Korea, Norway is the country that sent a mobile army surgical hospital to our aid during the Korean War as well as hundreds of soldiers - with three of them losing their lives. As we live under constant terrorist threats from North Korea, we are well aware of how acts of terrorism can pose an awful threat to our own peace and stability.

Sharing their grief and bitterness, we offer words of consolation to all Norwegians. If the peace-loving country overcomes this misfortune with courage and hope, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded to them.
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