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[Opinion] Memory

Posted April. 28, 2005 23:46,   


"I don`t remember"—this is what we frequently hear during investigations of state administration or hearings at the National Assembly. The remark is a rhetorical evasion that witnesses or speakers at such sessions use in an attempt to avoid answering lawmakers` pointed questions. Some of them truly don`t remember what happened, and others purposely hide the truth, but in most cases it is fair to say that the latter holds true. At a confirmation hearing held three years ago, the then-candidate for prime minister was resented by many lawmakers when he replied "I don`t remember" to several questions on the issue of his assets. In the end, he failed to take the post of prime minister, as the motion for his appointment was rejected at the National Assembly.

A human being has fourteen billion brain cells related to his mental activities. These cells are most active in one`s twenties. As one grows older, however, one`s brain cells gradually die, and those dead cells are never regenerated. This is why one suffers from declining memory over the years. Smoking, drinking, overwork, insufficient sleep and stress also serve as key factors of memory decline. To avoid this, doctors recommend brain cell-stimulating activities such as reading, writing, using one`s imagination and listening to music.

A story about Koeber, a philosopher, comes to mind. One day, Koeber asked his old teacher, who was reading a book, "Why do you bother to make such painstaking efforts?" Then the teacher replied, "You don`t know what you`re talking about. Unless you always keep on monitoring and training, this pesky thing called memory slips away unnoticed with the years. It might look down on me now that I`m this old, so I should put an even greater effort into monitoring and training."

Yoo Hong-jun, head of the Cultural Properties Administration, reportedly ordered the felling of a Himalayan cedar in the garden within the museum at Jeonnam National University, citing that the tree was "a remnant of Japanophilism during the tenure of former President Park Jung-hee." Nevertheless, Yoo dismissed the report, saying that "he does not remember such a thing." The former presiding judge of a district court, who had to resign on the grounds that he had committed sexual harassment against a female judge, said he "does not remember anything as he was totally drunk." I wonder if they have a convenient memory storage which retains nice things only and deletes the embarrassing ones. My recommendation is that they should never neglect memory-enhancing exercises.

Song Young-eon, Editorial writer, youngeon@donga.com