Show you care before it’s too late

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Show you care before it’s too late


I received a book at the end of last year and another one a few days ago. Coincidentally, both are collections of poems about regrets and love for a deceased wife. One of the authors is a friend and the other is a senior journalist. As I read them, tears welled up in my eyes several times.

Jeong Seon-yong, senior researcher at the Institute for the Translation of Korean Classics, was grieving his wife, who was a middle school assistant principal. She died in a traffic accident in June 2010. She was taking photographs with colleagues at Sihwa Lake when an oil tanker with a broken brake lost control and ran her over. Jeong remembered that she had wanted to publish a collection of her photos and his poems. He has translated classics into Chinese for 39 years, and he used his expertise to translate the old poems into modern language. The book is titled “Missing You from My Study on a Lonely Night.” In the preface, he wrote, “I always thought that such sudden separations only happened to other people, but now that I’ve experienced it personally, I am in pain.”

Kim Sang-gi, a reporter at Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation, lost his wife in August 2007. She had fought against cancer for five years. Kim had written poems for four years and published a collection titled “The Epitaph on My Wife’s Grave.” His poems are full of regret, yearning and pain. Kim wrote: “I thought I still had time, the time to win you back, the time to correct my faults. I always thought that I would at least have 10 or 20 years after I retired so that I could spend time with a family that I had neglected because of work. I always thought that we would be young for a century. I always thought that love would last for a millennium.” He ends by saying: “I will never sing a love song again.”

Sometimes, grand visions and lofty promises sound vain. Before we make such promises, we should listen to the calls coming from deep within our hearts to care for those close to us. We live in a world where people constantly send messages on smartphones to communicate with others when they are actually talking to someone in person. We have overcome the physical distance of separation, but it is doubtful if technology has made us any happier. The pain and devastation of losing one’s soul mate remains the same, whether it happened 400 years ago or today. We need to show those who are closest to us how much we care before it’s too late and we run out of time.

The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Noh Jae-hyun
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