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Paying-tribute politics

Posted April. 05, 2017 07:17,   

Updated April. 05, 2017 07:23


The site for the Seoul National Cemetery is one of the best propitious sites for graves. A high monk called Doseon of the ancient kingdom of Silla set up a temple called Galgungsa on the spot. It was renamed as Hwajangam in the Goryeo Dynasty, and later called as Hwajangsa under the Joseon Dynasty. It is now called Hoguk Jijangsa. The Buddhist Newspaper ran an article that former President Lee Syngman visited the temple and said, “Had it not been for a temple, I wish I could be buried here.” He who had an insight in feng shui created a national cemetery in the place.

Though it is a product of modern days with the emergence of national states, a cemetery also has a strong smell of the Confucian order. It offers 3.3 square meter space to a solider and 26.4 square meter for a general, which is eight times larger than the former. The graves of former presidents are 10 times larger than those for generals), each of which is 260 square meters and as good as a royal tomb. This is probably due to the Koreans’ perception that puts more values on officials as opposed to ordinary people. Gen. Chae Myung-sin was buried in the soldier section, which created a lot of buzz. All soldiers, officers and privates are buried in the Arlington National Cemetery in the U.S.

Moon Jae-in, the presidential candidate of the opposition Minjoo Party of Korea visited the Seoul National Cemetery and paid tribute to former presidents in the order of Lee Syng-man, Park Chung-hee, Kim Dae-jung, and Kim Young-sam. He who paid tribute to the grave of former President Kim Dae-jung as a presidential candidate in 2012 said, “If the authoritarian and dictatorial group of people examines themselves, I will be the first to go to the grave of visit former President Park.” He seems to show his willingness to unite the country into an action. It is also a Confucian culture that a politician pays tribute to a grave of a former president in the run up to an important event. Except the graves of President John F. Kennedy and his wife which are in the Cemetery in Arlington, those of former of American presidents are mostly located in their hometown, which makes it difficult for politicians to visit them at one time.

The controversy over paying respect to former presidents’ graves indicates that people like separating people. Another good idea would be visiting a tower for unknown soldiers representing the deceased patriots. Five years ago, Moon wrote in the guest book, “I’ll make a world where people come first,” while he wrote on Tuesday, “The fair and righteous Republic of Korea! A president for all people!” Hopefully, no more presidential candidates visit the graves of former presidents on a selective basis anymore.