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WINDFALL 횡재
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003 Winter Butterfly

Allure of the Goblin

Good is rewarded. Evil is punished.

That’s the way things should go. There’s a sense of relief when good triumphs. A sense of justice when evil falls. It’s inherent to our nature as human beings. Herein lies the foundation of most our folklore, religions, movies, and novels.

Why do we fixate on the same patterns?

Pretty much every literary piece that humans create reflects an urge to “do good.” An acknowledgement of right and wrong. A simplification of characters into heroes and villains. And the happy ending where love, courage, and kindness prevail.

It’s comforting to fantasize about how life should be. A predictable world filled with beauty and goodness, with just a sprinkle of concentrated bad for flavor.

This notion of “good should triumph evil” governs our entire lives. It’s reflected in our feelings of unjust when good people die and bad people thrive. The just desserts of a cheating spouse humiliated, or a murderer shot in the street.

We cling so tightly to this narrative because it feels right. But it doesn’t seem to reflect reality. Life often makes no sense. It’s harsh and unpredictable. It feels unfair and unjust. Random and chaotic. A sharp contrast to the linear stories we’ve created for centuries and centuries.

But sometimes it feels just like one of those stories. Simple, beautiful, and coherent. Filled with moments of joy, bliss, harmony, and love.

Is the notion of “good and evil” folly, or is our understanding of it flawed? Should we abandon the idea, or seek to mature it? To find meaning in things that don’t scream meaning. To find truth in a world that doesn’t make sense.

The Day When Winter is Past

The story of South Korea’s national flower is a beautiful one. And boy do I love a good story. Hibiscus syriacus. The Rose of Sharon. The mugunghwa. A flower known for its beauty and tenacity. Blooming from summer to autumn. Closing its petals every evening, to burst back as the sun rises.

The word mugunghwa (무궁화) combines two words, ‘mugung’ (무궁) meaning ‘eternity’, and ‘hwa’ (화) meaning ‘flower’. This concept of eternal strength and perseverance is especially meaningful to the people of Korea, with a long history of invasion and war.

During Japan’s colonial era, the mugunghwa was chosen as Korea’s national flower. In opposition to Japan’s racial assimilation policies in annexing Korea, mugunghwas were planted throughout the nation as emblems of resistance. Symbols of the Korean people’s unwavering dream of independence. Of their unbreakable spirit.

After 35 years of pain and turmoil, Korea gained its independence from Japanese rule in 1945, following the end of World War II. Korea was agreed to be temporarily split between Soviet and US occupancy. North Korea invaded South Korea soon afterwards, beginning the Korean War, and solidifying the divide between the two nations.

It’s ironic how a country so unified against oppression, so determined for independence is now divided. The two Koreas’ cultures and economies are worlds apart now. South Korea has developed quite well, so much that most South Koreans don’t find any semblance in their Northern counterparts. The refugees who successfully escape to South Korean communities are often ostracized. Pitied and discriminated against. Despite Korea being one nation striving for autonomy just 60 years ago.

In Song of Solomon, the Rose of Sharon has incredibly beautiful and poetic elements of love and hope and unity. That central theme of unbridled love is as relevant as ever with Korea. The nation’s division. Separated families between borders. North Korea’s hostility and threats to South Korea. Lingering animosity by South Korea towards the North and Japanese.

Time heals all wounds. Or so they say. Here’s to hoping for a unified Korea. A unified world.

The day when winter is past.

my beloved speaks and says to me…
arise my love, my beautiful one,
and come away,
for behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
the flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come.

Road to Enlightenment

The human experience is really us just trying to figure out what to do with ourselves. How to derive meaning from the world (if any), and how we can find purpose in life.

This idea is illustrated in Korean culture through the white tiger. Folklore describes the life of a tiger overcoming earthly trials and tribulations. And through that, gaining a more mature understanding of the world. As a tiger reaches enlightenment, it sheds its color and becomes white.

Enlightenment is a rather weighty word. Whether you’d prefer to call it fulfillment, joy, salvation, the pursuit of happiness, we live our lives in pursuit of shared meaning. To reach some sort of conclusion. Even if that conclusion is that there’s no meaning at all.

Our lives reflect our personal truths, which affect how we interact and react to the world. What decisions we make and what values we hold most dear. In many ways, truth connects us, yet it’s so often used as a point of contention. Rather than acknowledging the common goal, we fixate on our separate paths. We hold our own conclusions as fact, despite our entire lives reflecting an evolving worldview.

In this life, we’re all looking to lose our color. This is a shared journey, with different beginnings end endings. Truth is of the utmost importance, and deserves a lifetime of honest pursuit.

Learn from one another. Edify one another. And love one another.
Find truth together.

개구리 올챙이 적 생각도 못 한다.
The frog cannot remember his time as a tadpole.