I see union members, demanding wage hikes and better treatment from employers, protest in the main thoroughfares in downtown Seoul almost every weekend. I watch the parades of unhappy citizens rally on Saturdays and notice that the street protesters, men and women, were wearing quite expensive outfits and they all looked healthy and apparently lived well.
Some people may relish reading about the failures or arrests of the rich, ranking government officials, or business tycoons, using it as a way to mask their jealousy. "No pain, no gain" may be an outdated cliche in Korean society.
There was a story of a female scientist who watched as a butterfly struggled to wiggle out of its cocoon. Taking pity on the insect, she made a tiny slit on the shell of the cocoon to help it. The butterfly soon emerged. But its wings were not fully developed and it was unable to fly and died soon after. The struggle strengthens the body and spirit.
I remember this article well as we bred silkworms in the farmhouse I grew up. My mother, your great-grand-mother, also raised chickens and I noticed the mother hen never pecked at an unhatched egg to help the chick get out, while others broke the shells and pecked their way out. All the while the hen sat on it until the chick pecked its own way out and gasped for air.
While the newly hatched chickens were desperate to stay with their mother in order to survive, the mother hen wouldn't feed cereal to her newborns but instead let the babies find food by themselves. It seemed that some chickens couldn't tell the difference between the grains of the cereal and sand. The mother hen let her babies learn it, too, the hard way.
It may be correct in assuming that a small number of bureaucrats or executives from rich families achieved their positions by climbing straight up the ladder of success, without experiencing life's difficulties. Many of them would later lose jobs or be arrested for making wrong judgments in life.
This is partly because they lack the experience of hardships, failures and toiling difficulties. There are matching wise sayings; "More haste, less speed" and "slow and steady wins the race." Please don't try to achieve your goal hastily, it won't work. Rather often times, you should tread a thorny path in order to achieve a long lasting stable goal.
The writer (email@example.com), 87, is a retired Korean War veteran.