On Aug. 16, 99 days after his inauguration, President Moon Jae-in met around 200 family members of victims of the Sewol ferry.
Visibly emotional, the tears he shed during this meeting seemed to touch not only the families of the victims but also all Koreans who remember the tragedy and emphasize with their loss.
When the Sewol ferry sank in 2014, the circumstances behind the sinking and the rescue attempts showed a shameful side of Korea. The Sewol ferry itself became a metaphor for the bereaved families who cried and looked for traces of victims in the deep sea.
Since times past, Koreans have believed that the best politics are those that are empathetic to the pain and joy of ordinary people.
Because of this, Koreans who desire empathetic politics were greatly touched by Mr. Moon’s tears and these were much more powerful than any words he could have said.
In fact, this isn’t the only time President Moon has showed his empathetic side. His tears on this day reminded me of his hug given to the bereaved families of the May 18 Democratization Movement this May.
While some people doubt his actions and suggest they are only a show done for political gain and populism, his humane path towards empathy actually exceeds political belief and status.
Empathy is the voice of the conscience and it exceeds the borders of countries, ethnicity, and race. Like Willy Brandt, the former Chancellor of West Germany who fell to his knees in front of the monument in remembrance of the victims in 1970, I hope Mr. Moon’s tears can be remembered by the people of the world as a symbol of the pain of the Sewol ferry.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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