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[Opinion] “Let`s Write a Will“

Posted December. 03, 2001 09:25,   


The terrorist attack(s) in the U.S. was a turning point that shifted life paradigm for most of us who live in the 21st century. Even a simple plane accident elicits extreme tension, and the damage of wars, which have been conducted in new scale, makes us appalled.

We began to think about sudden deaths, and reflect on what I have not been able to do at the end of the year. I would like to propose that we write a will as an opportunity to reflect on ourselves. Most of the wills shown in the terrorist attacks in the U.S. were words of care for those who survived. "I love you and will love you forever, and do not feel sad for me." Regretting the unnecessary misunderstanding between himself and his sister, one man reconciled all the grudge. One husband bravely let his wife know that the plane she was on would soon crash, thus, giving her time to prepare to die.

If we were in such a situation, what would we do? A care for the surviving people seems still an unfamiliar sentiment for Korean people. Most people will not have a chance to write or articulate a spoken will. Even for those who are given the opportunity, they tend to justify themselves or desire for love and forgiveness from everyone. We don`t give in ourselves until the last moment, without being able to resolve `han`. Some people leave huge pressure and pain to the survivors by saying words that leave a long-smoldering grudge even when they die.

Our ancestors forced us to grieve for three years when parents die. Culture that prepares for death is slowly growing among us who had a very different culture from the Western people. A movement to write a will among social leaders and the young generation is taking place, and even a movement that urges people to return 1 percent of their properties to the society in a will is also taking place.

We explain that the reason for writing a will is to reflect on one`s own life and to face the unexpected death positively, and to settle the relationships between people. However, the will should be the last care for those who survive and those who will grieve and suffer, and those who loved him/her, not for the ones who die. How about a generous will that states, "I was happy. Don`t grieve for me."

The will should not be written during a state when one wants to express anger or to die. The will should be serious. The will should be intended to lessen the survivors` burden, to guarantee a financial support for a while, and to inform the unpaid debts, thus, leaving no one financially damaged or suffer.

Such a movement to write a will started in a process to solve the issue as to why South Korea, an OECD member country, has to export our children, and why it is difficult to activate domestic adoption or the system of foster parents.

Working as the president of the `Korean Foster Parents Association Corporation`, I realized that the biggest stumbling block for the activation of adoption was property inheritance. People give up adoption because it is burdensome to inherit the property to the adopted child, who is not a biological child, or a foster child. As the writing of a will is becoming a universalized practice, one is required to document the distribution of inheritance, thus, preventing legal disputes. Also, one can distribute one`s property according to one`s own will. Following this, if domestic adoption is activated, South Korea can be cleared from the bad reputation as an orphan exporting country.

The will is not a play of words or sentimental essay, but a written documentation that is intense and serious. The will in the Western society is written in context of ending a serious existence and caring for others.

People begin to open their hearts and to think about care for others and sharing during the end of year. People may be able to reflect on one`s own life and the personal and material relationship while writing a will. They may include their care for others. After all, the writing of a will is a care for the bereaved surviving family members in order for them not to miss me when I`m gone.

Park Young-Suk (Chief of the Cultural Bureau in the Korean Embassy in Australia and the president of the Korean Forster Parents Association)