By Lee Keun-yeup, professor of Yonsei Univ.
In the olden time
In the foggy sea of Muan1)
Heard were voices mystique,
"Among the sleepy islets of Muan
A babyboy will be born
To lead a nation under yoke.
Wisdom and courage, his will be.
Voices of Odin2), it was.
Many a year has passed since.
The year of 1924 welcomed a baby
Kim Dae-jung by name
Ordained to lead a nation.
He dreamed an ideal in the years to come
When he beheld a rainvow.
Outstanding through intensive studies
During a short span of formal schooling.
Thus added wisdom to courage.
He knocked the door of politics a novice.
Emerged a warrior for democracy.
Thorny were his trails,
16 years of imprisonments and house detentions,
Narrow escapes from death:
Was it Odin that rescued him
From the sea off the Japanese coast.
Remember May 18, 1980
And the warriors dead and missing.
The court martial sentenced his lot,
Quick execution would follow.
“I do not ask clemency for me
But for my comrades behind the bar"
Were last words.
Whole world stood up in protest.
Should we forget a herald in mystery?
She blew whistles on that rainy morning,
Informing martial forces' advance.
She has emerged from 34 years
Of KCIA imposed hermit life, Kim Sun-og!
Adversary camp dubbed him pro-communist,
Most of the nation cherished him as 'Indongcho',
As a dissident that withstood the harsh ordeals.
Nelson Rolihlala Mandela Matiba to the west,
Hukwang Kim Dae-jung to the east of the Ocean.
They shared Mahatma Gandhi's principles:
Satyagraha, Ahimsa, Sarbodaya.3)
Both walked the valley of death
Sharing common cause.
Novemver 18, 1997 saw
Kim Dae-jung elected President.
36 years of colonial rule was more than enough.
To another 36 years of regional rule he put an end.
He crossed the DMZ in June 2000
For the reconciliation of both Koreas.
Small one step for him,
Great leap for the nation.
Day August 18, 2009 saw
A flash of falling star.
The owl on vigil his incarnation?
It will watch the flare of unification torches.
Is the skylark's shrill clarion
The wake up call for the nation?
He's the sun at high noon.
The polar star in the darkness.
We hear the trumpet from heaven ringing,
"Conscience in action, for justice",
Call for another civil defiance.
Dear President, rest in peace
Among the Gwangju warriors and democracy fighters!
1) Muan (霧安) meaning fog and peace
2) God of wisdom, courage, and wind
3) Truth, reconciliation, and welfare
Dr. Prof. Lee Keun-yeup taught education philosophy at Yonsei University in Seoul.
He is also the author of an English essay entitled “Gandhi, Kim Dae-jung, Mandela have many things in common" published by The Korea Post in its February 1998 issue (pp. 42-44).
Currently he is the Director for Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities of Vietnam and also an East Europe and Balkan analyst.
Prof. Lee can be contacted by phone + 010-7220-8985.