Keeping our heroes forever in mind

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Keeping our heroes forever in mind


We let her go without saying a proper goodbye. The entire nation was grieving over the tragedy of the Sewol ferry accident, but she deserved a warmer farewell.

The seats to her farewell performance spanning three days sold out in 30 minutes, and the show was broadcast on television. However, as Kim Yu-na concluded her 18-year skating career, she should have been given more of a blessing. Throughout this nation’s humble history, we’ve never had a hero who has enhanced the value of the country as much as Kim.

But fans abroad seem to be missing her graceful performances even more. The Chicago Tribune’s Philip Hersh said that throughout the 10 Winter Olympics he has covered, Kim’s 2010 performance was the greatest. He added that she will be missed.

A Canadian broadcaster joked that the “Beyonce of figure skating” has retired. Russia took home the gold medal in Sochi this year, and its state media praised Kim for becoming a true legend in figure skating.

David Wilson, who was Kim’s choreographer, said, “Coaching Yu-na was the best experience I’ve ever had in my 22-year career as a choreographer.” His sincere remarks made Kim shed tears.

However, the figure skating darling’s name is, increasingly, fading in the minds of the Korean people. We tend to remember her by her medal, and now that she won’t be bringing home any more gold medals, we have lost interest.

People often abandon the old and seek the new. It’s like not taking care of the chicken you raise at home and chasing wild pheasants in the field.

But a society that does not treasure heroes does not deserve to have one. In fact, Kim was an undeserved hero for Koreans.

So how can we hope for a new hero when we failed to cherish such a genuine one? If we cherished the memories of Han Ju-ho, the hero in the ROK Cheonan attack, other heroic victims may have been saved.

Robert Downey Jr., who played Iron Man in the Hollywood blockbuster franchise, said, “I think that we all do heroic things, but ‘hero’ is not a noun. It’s a verb.”

A hero is not a title. An individual proves this with action. In order to change our perspective of heros, we should think of their deeds and not their names.

When we share such thoughts, we can create a social climate to save heroes like Han and have more heroes like Kim.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 9, Page 31

* The author is an international news editor for the JoongAng Ilbo.


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