▲ “A family” by Kim Sung-oh recalls the human connection with nature for writer Bogyeong Kim. Painting by Kim Sung-oh
I once drew my family on canvas with a crayon when I was in primary school. My family and I went to an attractive restaurant and after dinner we took a family photo. I then drew the picture, which even won a prize in a contest after being sent off by my homeroom teacher.
My father, mother, my brother and I are all in that picture smiling in front of a yellow background. I was reminded of this picture recently when looking at another family, also enjoying themselves in a restaurant, but in a restaurant as nature intended. The background is blue and they are horses; like my family, they are four - father, mother, brother and sister.
Three of them (probably mom, dad and brother) are enjoying the grass, while the sister, possibly due to thirst or just through juvenile adventurousness, is drinking water from the reflective pool in the oreum.
This oreum is their very own fancy restaurant at night. The sky view looks like the starry night of van Gogh, representing the essence of Jeju’s nightsky, even the dotted stars.
This led me to think about how, as humans, we are all also animals, from animal families. We, humans, are just animals that can think; but does thinking - and the use of utensils - make us superior?
While humans are animals that can think, horses are animals driven by instinct. But humans, with our thinking, destroy and ruin nature. Horses, barely thinking, protect and live with nature, which we all live with and cannot live without.
Where does this argument lead us to? A issue in Jeju that most people in Korea know of: Gangjeong Naval Base.
I understand that if we want to survive a war, a military base might be beneficial. But the cost is too high. Too much of the natural environment will be ruined and too many citizens will suffer. We should reevaluate the need for the establishment of a millitary zone.
It is not just an issue of money. The military zone is ruining the environment for Jeju’s citizens. The political estab-lishment should consider this carefully and take measures to protect nature and the local population.
When seen through the lens of mod-ernity, nature is reduced to an object, something that can be destroyed and replaced with new buildings. But this ignores the fact that nature is our habitat, and something that gives us joy and happiness. It is not just an object that cannot speak or move.
We should enjoy nature and under-stand nature; we should understand how important nature is. If we all knew how important and precious nature was, we would not neglect its value. We would want to protect it.
Human nature is also part of nature and we feel at one when we are in harmony with it. It can ease our pain and research proves that merely walking in the forest can keep people mentally and physically healthy. So, let’s return to the mountains and ease our modern suffering.
This brings me back to the painting. The painter wants us to reconnect with nature and be one with it, to protect it and be like a family to it. With his elegant brush tails.
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