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Restoring president’s birthplace

Posted May. 20, 2017 07:15,   

Updated May. 20, 2017 07:30


The late president Rhee Syng-man is the only president among 12 former presidents that we cannot visit his birthplace as his hometown is in Pyongsan County, Hwanghae Province beyond the Military Demarcation Line. The only place that we can feel the trace of former President Rhee is Ihwajang where he briefly stayed. Birthplaces of the rest 11 former presidents still exist and people can imagine their childhood. Many people believe that a president’s birthplace will be different in one way or another. Shadows of feng shui or pray are glimmering.

One of palatial residence among birthplaces of former presidents is the one of the late President Yoon Bo-sun in Asan City, South Chungcheong Province. He was known to live in a 99-room tile-roofed house by age of 10. The glory of the past still remained in the house. Unlike Mr. Yoon’s house, however, most birthplaces were restored as thatched houses as they were. Former Presidents Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Moo-hyun were said to ask to restore their birthplaces in original shapes. Neighboring areas of former President Park Jung-hee’s birthplace in Gumi City, North Gyeongsang Province, are changing into a park by injecting local taxes of 28.6 billion won. A committee to restore former President Park Geun-hye’s birthplace was established in 2015.

There is a public uproar against the Geoje city government’s move to restore President Moon Jae-in’s birthplace. Even the president is said to show his displeasure by saying, “I don’t understand why people talk about it as the presidential election was over not so long ago.” It was unprecedented that the talk of restoring president’s birthplace was brought up in less than 10 days since the president took office. It could be that Geoje city considers for Mr. Moon being elected as the president is a rare opportunity to attract tourists as the city now is the birthplace of two presidents including former President Kim Young-sam. The mayor might want to make it as his achievement in preparation for next year’s local election.

The father of Vietnam Ho Chi Minh’s birthplace represents the simplicity itself. There were some articles indicating that residents removed and stored the roofs and walls of Ho Chi Minh’s birthplace for potential loss from bombings during the war and restored them later. In Korea, a fire has been deliberately lit in birthplaces of some presidents. It doesn’t matter if former presidents’ birthplaces are restored by using tax money or decorate the house as a sacred place. Nothing can return the assessment on president during his/her presidency.