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[Opinion] Ehwa Bridge

Posted September. 25, 2002 22:36,   


Whether they were from Ehwa Women’s University or not, Ehwa Bridge located in front of the school’s gate carries some significance to the so-called 386 generation who are now in their late 30s and early 40s. Whenever a train passed through the cloud-shaped bridge, young female students rushed over to the bridge. It was said that when you stepped on the tail of a train, you were going to meet a handsome boy on a blind date. To keep their posture, young women often times chose not to run. Once they got on the bridge, however, they moved hurriedly to catch the train. Male students have their own stories to tell. Some were standing under the bridge waiting for their girlfriends, while some others happily crossed the bridge to enter the university for special occasions such as a couple party.

▷Since its foundation in 1958, the 10m-wide 60m-long bridge made of steel concrete has been a symbol of the women’s university that stands for truth and love. It is also a place remembered for student movements in the 1970s and 1980s. One time, defiant Kim Ok-gil, then the president of the university, roared at riot police who were lining up outside the gate to arrest students rallying on the bridge, “You have to arrest me first!” The legend of the tail of a train is now saying a different story. From the mid 1990s, female students began to believe that they would be able to get a decent job if they can catch the tail. This reflects that young women these days place their priority more on work and achievement than on love and marriage.

▷A bridge connects one side to the other, but it could also disconnect the two worlds. Ewha Bridge has been a bridge that connects truth and love, values endearing to young women, with the outside world and studies, and at the same a symbol of the school’s exclusiveness. The bridge with a long history was removed on September 25. A high-speed railway will pass by the area instead. The school authorities said that they would restore the site in the campus by bringing in every part of the bridge. And they plan to build Ehwa Square on the site by 2004, which will stand for Korean women’s step toward the world.

▷The school, however, sticks to an outdate tradition. It still doesn’t accept marred women. It hardly makes sense in this 21st century that the women’s university aiming to give more women chances to learn does not to let in married ones. Now that Ehwa Bridge is gone, it may be time for the old tradition to follow suit. I imagine the day when babies play in a nursery built on the side of Ehwa Square while their mothers attend class.

Editorial Writer, Kim Soon-duk yuri@donga.com