Don’t give up, you’re not beaten yet

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Don’t give up, you’re not beaten yet


Before last spring, I was a novice climber who only frequented Mount Bukhan in Seoul, but thanks to the magic of Mount Seorak, I challenged myself to traverse Mount Jiri. It was last spring when I decided I would try to climb to Cheonwang Peak, the highest point on Mount Jiri. But when I got there, I found out that Mount Jiri is completely different from Mount Seorak. If Seorak is a seductive, charming mistress, Jiri is a chaste lady you cannot easily approach. Even after endless peaks and valleys, it still did not open up to me. In the end, I gave up at Beoksoryeong and felt like a loser.

The descent was lonely and pathetic. As I walked down the 6.4-kilometer (four-mile) path from Beoksoryeong, I had a chance for some self-reflection. I felt embarrassed that I had tried to climb Cheonwang Peak when I never work out and have hardly kept my pledge to quit smoking and drink less. If it was my destiny to go up and down but never reach the top, it was not fate but a natural consequence of my slack efforts.

I have been thinking about that time a lot lately while watching the outcry of those denouncing greed and corruption in America spread around the world. The Occupy Wall Street movement that began about a month ago has escalated into global demonstrations in over 1,500 cities, including Seoul. The “losers” representing the 99 percent who cannot bear the cruelty of financial capitalism have risen up against the “winners” representing the remaining 1 percent.

The members of the young generation, who have degrees yet still cannot find jobs, may be feeling like losers. They may also feel they are being deceived when told that they can succeed if they study hard and are diligent. It is no wonder they feel that way. It has been reported that 75 percent of Korean citizens feel that Korean society is unfair. After all, most citizens believe that they cannot succeed with effort alone and need other tactics to get ahead. Unless the haves start sharing their wealth and society starts giving the have-nots a second chance, capitalism may be faced with a serious crisis.

After trying to climb the mountain and failing, I acknowledged that being a loser was not an entirely bad thing. If I had not been one, I would never have enjoyed the luxury of walking down the scenic path of Mount Jiri all by myself. Nevertheless, I refuse to end my life as a loser because I want to see the innermost beauty of Mount Jiri again someday.

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

By Bae Myung-bok
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