Returning to the wilderness

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Returning to the wilderness


I have been a first-grade Kendo practitioner, but I praise the art of the swordsmanship whenever given a chance. The traditional martial arts has a special charm, and I am not taking about its benefits to your health. It has an appeal that stimulates the wilder side of you. The stamping on the floor and the strikes to the head, wrists and waist remind me of the struggle of survival during primitive times. A more fascinating aspect is the shouting that accompanies every move. If you think about it, you rarely get a chance to scream, express your spirit and release. At the core, we are wild animals.

The National Park Service has begun an operation aimed at capturing the dozens of wild animals that have been spotted near Mount Bukhan. They are not the real wild dogs like the Lycaon in Africa that eat gazelles or the Australian Dingo, which sometimes attack people. Most of these dogs are abandoned pets. They have reproduced in the mountain, so if left alone, they may regain the long-lost wild traits of their ancestors. What would residents of Seoul think of the silhouette of a wild dog barking at the top of Yangro or Mangyeong peaks, with a full moon in the background?

But Mount Bukhan is too small - it is impossible to model it after the Yellowstone National Park’s successful restoration of the ecosystem by reintroducing gray wolfs from Canada. As hikers and visitors feel threatened by the stray dogs, the National Park Service has few options. The chairman of the service, Chung Kwang-soo, said stray dogs disturb the ecosystem as they attack squirrels and other rodents.

And Mount Bukhan is not the only place struggling with wild animals. Hallyeohaesang National Park is comprised of 29 inhabited and 69 uninhabited islands, and wild goats are a nuisance. Yang Gi-sik, the director of environmental management at the National Park Service, said these goats consume buds, grass and tree barks and leave the entire island devastated. When chased, the goats jump into the ocean and the capture teams would wait in a boat and bring them out with nets. In Mount Sokri, a dozen Taiwanese deer that had been set free are causing trouble as well.

At any rate, I am not appalled by the stray dogs and cats that have somehow regained their wild nature. The wild dogs in Mount Bukhan may be whispering, “Sometimes, you, too, need to think about your origins and release your wild instincts.”

The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Noh Jae-hyun
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