Learning from Gukje Market

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Learning from Gukje Market


I recently saw the movie, “Ode to My Father” a few days ago and was surprised to find that it touched me more deeply than I expected.

As I viewed the film, which portrays the modern history of Korea against the backdrop of Gukje Market in Busan, I began to think. I was particularly interested in the movie’s hero, who refused to shut down the store he was operating because he promised his father he would protect his family.

But the people around him could not understand his obstinacy.

I was reminded of the grandfathers of Germany as I watched the film. I thought, “No matter where you go, elderly people are stubborn.”

There is a saying that old people never change their minds, which is the perfect description of my own father.

Whenever I tell him about a new thing, he almost always dismisses it, saying he doesn’t need it. Whenever I give him an opinion that is slightly different from his, he always says that I should stop speaking nonsense, which perplexes me.

But after seeing the movie I came to understand his attitude.

Whenever I see elderly people acting strangely - from the perspective of the young - on the streets or on the bus or subway, I admit that in the past I believed they had become stubborn or bad tempered as they aged.

But after I saw the movie, I decided to change my point of view because I realized that I will never know what kinds of history the person has gone through or what kinds of promises they have made to others.

In the past, my grandmother always gathered breadcrumbs and ate them. She created sauce from the fat that came from cooking meat and used it in her potato dish. She also bathed her seven grandchildren one after another using the same water in the bathtub.

And now I understand why.

When I was young, she was just a loving grandmother who was very good at cooking. But as I speak to her more often, I realized that she was once a 6-year-old girl who was fearful of the bombings during World War II who had to hide and cried in hunger. Because things were so scarce during and after the war, saving everything has become a lifetime habit for her.

The young generation needs to put efforts in to understand the past of the elderly and try to be more understanding. Not everyone is wise just because they are old, but it is true that they have a wider insight on the world.

Everyone has a mission in life. Running a store at a market is equally valuable as becoming president.

If you are someone who is faithfully devoted to the mission you have chosen, you deserve to be stubborn when you have aged. We will all grow old. We have to talk to the elderly people with the thought in mind that we all are from Gukje Market.

*The author is a TV personality from Germany. He currently appears on the JTBC talk show Non-Summit.

by Daniel Lindemann

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