Protesting in silence

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Protesting in silence

“That’s it?” the tourists who visit the Manneken Pis in Brussels often ask.

They take time to visit the statue, but there’s not much to do except take a few photos. With so many tourists around, it’s also a challenge to get a nice angle. The Manneken Pis is one of the most overrated landmarks - a 2-feet-tall structure we’ve all become familiar with from pictures. It’s just very crowded around there.

But some may find the story behind the statue interesting. Among the several legends behind it, the most widely accepted is that the statue is of a boy who defended the city from foreign invasion. In the 14th century, Brussels was under siege by a foreign power, and the invaders placed explosives around the city walls and set it on fire. A little boy saw this and urinated on the burning fuse. The city was saved, and the people of Brussels fought together to drive away the invaders. A wooden statue was built there to remember the boy.

In 1619, the wooden statue was replaced with a bronze one. The original, made by Jerome Duquesnoy, is in the city museum, and a replica made in 1965 stands in its place.

Regardless of the legend’s validity, Belgians consider the statue a symbol of resistance against foreign invasion.

The New Acropolis Museum is located on the way to the temple of the Parthenon in Athens. Built six years ago, it focuses on the sculptures from the Parthenon. The sculptures on the four facades of the temple have been taken to the museum, but more than half of them are empty.

Aside from some lost parts, most of the empty spaces should be filled by the marbles that Thomas Bruce, the seventh Earl of Elgin, moved to the United Kingdom. They are on display at the British Museum, but because the United Kingdom did not respond to Greece’s request for return, the Greek government built the museum to denounce the removal of the marbles.

The Scott Monument stands at the center of Edinburgh, in memory of Sir Walter Scott, the author of “Ivanhoe.” The monument is 200 feet tall, towering above its surroundings, and the Scots take pride that the monument is taller than Nelson’s Column, which stands 169 feet at Trafalgar Square. It is a symbol of Scottish identity.

The Korean government promised Japan it would “make efforts for an appropriate resolution” to the comfort woman statue across from the Japanese Embassy.

“Resolution” means relocation. But when I visited the statue on Dec. 29, a man was wrapping the bare feet of the statue with his scarf, and there were more people visiting the statue that day. “Appropriate resolution” won’t be easy.

The author is the deputy national news editor
at the JoongAng Ilbo.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 30, Page 35

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