Leaving us in the dark
Three days after the terror attacks in Paris, I was embarrassed to see the photos on the covers of newspapers.
Landmarks and monuments around the world were lit blue, white and red on Nov. 14 in tribute to the Paris victims. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, the White House in Washington, D.C., One World Trade Center in New York City, Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the Opera House in Sydney and the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro were all showing solidarity.
But not a single monument in Seoul was illuminated with the tricolors.
France is a traditional ally of Korea, having participated in the Korean War. More than 400,000 Koreans visited France this year. It is insensitive not to show proper condolences to a country that has been struck by such horrifying acts of terror.
Not all were oblivious to this. A filmmaker tweeted at Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon on Nov. 14, suggesting he light the N Seoul Tower in Mount Namsan blue, white and red. Park replied, “Due to technical difficulties, the tower could not be lit up in three colors, so the tower is lit blue.”
On Nov. 16, the technical difficulties were overcome, and the tricolors were there. But all were not shown at once, which would have actually represented the French flag. Instead, each color was individually projected for 20 seconds.
Seoul is a city with a population of 10 million and claims to be the new mecca of the IT industry. So I could not believe that the city not only failed to sense the worldwide sentiment but also could not manage to project three colors on a tower that sometimes offers a 3-D light show.
It turned out that the city of Seoul had made a contract with the N Seoul Tower in 2011 to light the tower in blue when fine dust pollution is low and in red when it is high, but never at once. It is clear that the officials at the Seoul Metropolitan Government are too busy with administrative duties to keep up with global issues.
An agency familiar with overseas situations, whether it is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Blue House, needs to respond to situations timely. Only then can Korea demonstrate proper courtesy and dignity to the international community.
The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 23, Page 31
by NAM JEONG-HO