Genuine mournfulnessOn an unseasonably cold and windy day, Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik and former Grand National Party chairwoman Park Geun-hye remembered the victims of the deadly shelling of frontline island, Yeonpyeong.
The sky was clouded and for a few minutes sprayed icy rain on the ceremony commemorating the first anniversary of the attack by the North Korean military.
The temperature suddenly dropped as the raindrops thickened. The chief security guard opened an umbrella for the prime minister. But Kim brushed it away.
He stood solemnly in the rain beside the mourning families. He laid flowers on the graves of the martyred soldiers, his suit soaked with rain. But not once did he flinch.
A father of one of the murdered soldiers commented that he could feel the sincerity of the prime minister from his disposition that day.
In a telephone interview, Moon Young-jo, father of the late Private First Class Moon Gwang-ok, said the prime minister had no care for the cold or rain, but just genuine empathy for the pain and loss felt by the families of the victims.
He added that some of the country’s other leaders should take after Kim. Moon, another marine and two civilians were killed when North Korea’s military fired a barrage of artillery at Yeongpyeong Island in protest of a South Korean naval drill.
In his address to the families and soldiers stationed on the island, Kim said “As I stand here with you, the shock and pain of that tragic day rushes back and I am overwhelmed with sadness and sorrow.” They were not just flowery words. Kim’s attitude showed that he meant every one of them.
Moon said he was touched by the prime minister’s sincere words of consolation.
Some people in cyberspace criticized the whole event as a political gesture. Their response is understandable as sincerity and decency has been found wanting from government officials.
Nobody from the main opposition Democratic Party was present at the event except the governor of the South Chungcheong Province. The party issued a short statement through a deputy speaker, advising the government and military to be more careful and thorough in defense of the nation.
It warned North Korea not to dare commit any more military provocations. There was a clear difference between the prime minister and the DP leadership. One cared and the other did not.