Time to celebrate mature globalism

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Time to celebrate mature globalism

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Sept. 17, the day before the beginning of the Chuseok holidays, marked the 25th anniversary of the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. Few would disagree that the Seoul Olympics provided the foundation for the advanced nation Korea has become today. Koreans gained a sense of pride and introduced the country to the international community. However, it is regrettable that the quarter-century anniversary was not recognized with a nationwide celebration.

Of course, the Summer Games are an international sporting event, but it also boosts national pride, enhances national brand and drives economic growth. The 1964 Tokyo Olympics and 2008 Beijing Olympics were model cases.

Last year, London hosted its fourth Olympiad. During my trip to London earlier this month, I had a very impressive experience. On the evening of Saturday, Sept. 7, I attended “Proms in the Park” in Hyde Park in central London.

It was the last day of the 118-year-old summer musical festivities that originally began in 1895. For the first part, the London Philharmonic Orchestra offered an outdoor performance at the park, while the BBC Orchestra played at the Royal Albert Hall. For the second part, the two orchestras performed simultaneously through large screens. They played pieces that inspired patriotism.

Interestingly, the audience enjoyed the music while waving the flags of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. I could also spot flags of other European countries, such as Norway, Spain, Germany and France.

More than 40,000 people in Hyde Park waved the flags and sang along to “Rule Britannia” and “God Save the Queen.” Britons explained that the concert began to have patriotic atmosphere since the Olympic Games last year. Instead of falling into a nationalist trap, they celebrated with their global neighbors, waving flags from all over the world.

Then, breaking news came into my smartphone, “Tokyo has been chosen as the host of the 2020 Summer Olympics.” It left me with mixed thoughts. I was concerned that spread of patriotism in Japan would be distorted into exclusive nationalism. Without a doubt, anti-Korean protests resumed in Japan after the news came out.

Fortunately, however, Tokyo’s Grand March was held in Shinjuku Park on Sept. 22, opposing the anti-Korean sentiment. I saw the seeds of hope from the signs labeled “Let’s Get Along.” Korea and Japan are destined to be neighbors, and we have to get along. Hopefully, as neighbors, we can show mature globalism for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

It is about time that Korea prepares for a second Seoul Olympic Games to boost the national morale and pride once again.

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

BY CHAE IN-TAEK

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