Toward a country of freedom and culture

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Toward a country of freedom and culture

The author is a cultural news team reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.

The Netherlands is a small yet powerful country. It was a new country with a relatively small population and land area, but it showed off formidable power, enough to compete against England for maritime rights in the 17th century. The Dutch capital of Amsterdam dominated the international trade routes to Asia through aggressive overseas expansion and was the No. 1 city in Europe for wealth and culture.

Yale University Professor Amy Chua emphasized “tolerance” and explained the background of the Netherlands’ rise as a European power in the 17th century in “Day of Empire.” Erasmus, a renowned Dutch philosopher and Catholic priest, was the first European to advocate for religious tolerance, paving the foundation for tolerance. Jews expelled from Spain — and French protestants suffering from religious persecution at home — were inspired by Erasmus’ ideas and came to the Netherlands. They not only brought money but also many technologies that the new country did not have otherwise.

At the 43rd Blue Dragon Film Awards on Nov. 25, Tang Wei won the Best Actress award for her role in “Decision to Leave,” the first time for a foreign actor to receive that award. At the award ceremony, she smiled and said, “I love this very much.” Tang Wei became a star with the movie “Lust, Caution.” But she had a hard time acting in China because of the film’s negative portrayal of the Chinese Communist Party, and she continued her acting career in Korea.

Recently, various protests are happening in many Asian countries. The situations in China, Hong Kong and Iran appear to be caused by long-standing repression of freedom and consequent protests. There must be second and third Tang Wei who are caught in the turmoil. I hope they would be able to bloom in Korea. I want to see the golden days of the Republic of Korea to be remembered not only for the economy but also for the development of freedom and culture by the future generations.
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