The Korean expedition team led by Park Young-seok reached the North Pole on the morning of May 1, 2005. His teammates Hong Seong-taek, Oh Hee-joon, Jeong Chan-il and Park trekked some 2,000km to the pole on a 54 day journey, each dragging a sledge loaded with 100kg of supplies.
By reaching the North Pole, he has become the first man in the world to achieve the grand slam of mountaineering. The feat involves scaling the 14 peaks of the Himalayas over 8,000 meters high, the highest summits on the seven continents, and reaching both poles on foot. The victory was achieved after numerous setbacks, which makes it even more meaningful.
As the history of exploration testifies, great achievements by an explorer not only bring glory to the individual, but can also serve to inspire national pride and to pave the way for a leap forward for a country and its people.
Korea is suffering hardships with internal conflicts and historical distortions from neighboring countries. The enthusiasm for national unity and the hopeful atmosphere that were so evident during the 2002 World Cup has been long gone.
However, Professor Hwang Woo-suk of Seoul National University and President Hwang Chang-kyu of Samsung Electronics awakened national pride with great research and technological innovations in the biotechnology and information technology sectors. In addition, Professor Baek Sung-hee and her team at Seoul National University found a mechanism preventing the spread of cancer, and road signs designed by Professor Park Jin-sook and her team at Sejong University were designated as the international standard for such signs. All these achievements encouraged Koreans very much.
Another achievement can be added to that list. The conquest of the North Pole by Parks team and Parks grand slam will be commemorated as one of the greatest achievements by Koreans in the 21st Century.
Now, each Korean needs to transform his or her strength, passion and creativity into national power in order to make a better future for the country and themselves. The expedition team is coming home on May 12. Lets welcome them as national heroes.