In the name of the father
The author is a doctor of medicine and an otorhinolaryngologist.
Daniel Day-Lewis, who has retired from his acting career early, is an irreplaceable actor. He won three Academy Awards for Best Actor. His filmography is rather short compared to his successful career. There can be no challenge to the praise of his acting if you have seen any one of his movies.
In “In the Name of the Father,” Day-Lewis played the role of Gerry Conlon — and his acting was an homage to all fathers in the world and penitence of a son. The lingering aftertaste of that great film recalled the time of the young and the father-son relationship in reality.
The movie featured the London bombing terrorism by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) demanding unification of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It was also based on the tragic real story of a 20-year-old young man Gerry, who was jailed after being wrongfully convicted as a main culprit.
The scene of a farewell between Gerry and his father when the troubled young man was leaving for London for his future showed a deep paternal love. “Remember, honest money goes further,” advised his father, Giuseppe Conlon. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” he also said. The advice, however, was neglected and Gerry was swept by the terrorist attack.
Giuseppe was also imprisoned because of Gerry, and the movie depicted the desperate feelings of the father. After a difficult process, Gerry proved his innocence and was subsequently released, but his father died while in jail. Gerry perhaps could be the self-portrait of all sons in our time. In the movie, Gerry belatedly realized his father’s lessons and lived a meaningful life to fight for justice and truth. But in real life, Gerry suffered trauma after his release and died at 60.
For order people, a father is a symbol of solemnity and authority in Korean society, in particular. Fathers had deep love for their children, but they could not express the love easily. Despite their authority in the family, their lives were not easy. It was especially difficult in Korea, where turmoil and chaos were frequent. As fathers sacrificed themselves for their families, their names represented the weight they had to carry by themselves. Although Korea has become an advanced economy, their exhausting lives are still not respected properly.
Father is the second word a baby learns and the second most spoken word by a child. So the preciousness of a familiar existence is often forgotten. When his parents are aged, a son realizes the existence of his father particularly when he is in crisis. In “The Return of the Prodigal Son,” a painting by Rembrandt van Rijn, a son is painted as a shabby man who wasted all his inheritance. The eyes of the father who was hugging his son who finally returned home show longing accumulated for years. Tears burst as we see the son, who found peace at last as his father held his body. It is why we feel emotional when we think about our fathers.
In the movie, the father protected the son’s life with unshaken conviction and sincerity. All fathers in the world are like him. But when they are aged, fathers often lose even the power to make a decision about their health after their wealth and health disappear. Children try to make a decision about their fathers’ treatments, without considering the patients’ intentions. As aged fathers were treated as if they were children, they were barred from deciding whether they would undergo surgery or not. This is not right.
As I look back, wisdom as a doctor came from my father’s life. It was comforting to have a father who helped me maintain my life whenever I faced a crisis. Everyone is in his or her father’s debt. When fathers are losing their health and the moment of parting is approaching, it will be impossible to pay back the debt.
It is extremely difficult to maintain the attitude that keeps righteousness to family. But the memory of sharing life with our fathers will soon face the critical point. We must admit that the fraying father will soon be the future of a son. The most bitter regret in the world will be the sorrow of a son who only remembers what did bad instead of what he did right — just like Gerry Conlon in the movie, who shouted “In the name of my father and of the truth!”
Translation by the Korea JoongAng Daily staff.