This poem would be always introduced in newspapers and radio shows in December every year. Seongtanje (Christmas Festival) is effectively a winter poem. Then, these days Seongtanje frequently comes to my mind, which is strange. You may wonder what about ‘Seongtanje’ and of course it is not even a Christmas day in hot summer day. But then, you don’t necessarily need white snow and red corni (mentioned in the poem) to be able to read this poem. This is not the nature and essence of the poem. Seongtanje is a story about a desperate situation and deep love. It addresses the miracle of disease being healed and pain transforming into hope. This is the core element of the poem.
It is August now. Corni seeds have yet to ripe and there is no white snow, but we come to recall this poem because the poem contains what we truly want. We deeply wish to see disease being healed and pain transforming into hope.
The situation we facing now and the poem are quite similar. These days, we cannot freely go out from home. Even if we go out to the street, we hurriedly return home as if we are living in seclusion in the winter to avoid freezing winter winds. We are already in the middle of frigid winter not only in our behaviors but also in our emotion. We crave for small hope while constantly feeling as if we are shrinking.
I read a story about a mother who is crying because she could not find a hospital bed for her sick child. I also read a story about a mother who had to keep a child who is not sick at home and leave her home only with her sick child to give treatment. I also saw the swollen hands of a medical worker who endured scorching weather and soaking sweat to treat patients. If the sick child is your own child, brother or a family member, anyone would lament and cry. We are experiencing a winter that is truly difficult and hard to all of us, including those who are sick, who are saving lives and who are surviving. We live in a season when we truly need ‘Seongtanje.’