Every citizen’s right to stand victorious

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Every citizen’s right to stand victorious


The V sign, made by raising the index and middle fingers, was first used during the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453). In October 1415, the English achieved a major victory over the French when they attacked the small town of Agincourt in northern France in what would become known as the Battle of Agincourt.

The French had overwhelming strength, so they opened the gates and marched out with their cavalry in front. But the English longbowmen, who were laying in wait, began shooting all at once. When the French began falling from their horses, the English stormed in.

This made the French soldiers furious and they threatened to cut off the longbowmen’s index and middle fingers so they would never be able to shoot arrows again. But in a defiant gesture, the English lifted the two fingers into a V and showed off, mocking the French. When the English won the battle, the northern part of France came under their control. The V sign has been a symbol of victory ever since.

The battle reminds me of the rivalry in the Seoul mayoral campaign, which was so fierce that it was almost as if the candidates were trying to cut off one another’s fingers. Now that the election is over, Park Won-soon, who has won the right to raise the V sign, is determined to effect change. Yet, he must feel that although he has tasted the sweetness of victory, there is a bitter trial to come as the applause and celebration turn into pressure and expectation laid like bricks upon his shoulders.

Obviously, whether he uses the bricks to build a staircase to help him overcome the trial or continues to carry their weight on his own will depend on his first steps down the road.

The road that a leader should take is the one that did not exist yesterday. It is neither the road on the right nor the one on the left, neither the old one nor the newly paved one. No matter where he once stood, a leader has to embrace both sides and seek a new way. But the road cannot be found by the leader alone. Voters need to participate, too. They also have a responsibility not to block the road so that he can lead the people with all of his strength.

As Napoleon once said, “A leader is a dealer in hope.” And Koreans are desperately in need of just such a person today.

Ultimately, the person who deserves the right to raise the V sign is not the winner of the election but each and every resident of Seoul and the citizens of the Republic of Korea.

*The writer is the J Editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Lee Hoon-beom
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