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[Opinion] Relationships Made In Heaven

Posted November. 30, 2005 07:19,   


An elderly man and an elderly woman participated in a TV puzzle show. The phrase “Heaven-ordained relationship” was shown to the elderly man by an emcee of the show. Even with a variety of explanations of the word, the elderly woman was not able to figure out the answer. In a last attempt, the elderly man asked, “What do you call a relationship like ours?” and he spread four fingers suggesting that the word consisted of four letters. The woman finally found an answer and said with confidence, “Lifelong enemy.”

Our ancestors regarded becoming a married couple as the will of heaven. They called a married couple a “match made in heaven” and called a couple who live a happy life a “Heaven-ordained relationship.”

In the past, there were few cases of divorce. People at that time may have regarded splitting up as an act that goes against the will of heaven. Some scholars say that the fact that “Gyeong-guk-dae-jeon,” a code of laws of Joseon dynasty, has no provision of divorce has something to do with the idea of heaven-ordained relationships.

There is an old saying in the west that “a wife is a girlfriend to a young man, a friend to a middle-aged man, and a nurse to an elderly man.” The same is true with the meaning of a husband to a woman. The sight of an elderly couple walking together in the street or on a journey usually reminds me of the saying. Few newly married couples would think that their own spouses are not a match made in heaven. Nevertheless, the divorce rate is high. According to National Statistical Office, 139,365 couples got divorced last year alone.

The other day, President Roh Moo-hyun displayed his special affection for Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan, saying that “he and I are a heaven-made relationship, and I am a very lucky president.” His remark seems to explain the strong standing of Prime Minister Lee tantamount to that of the president. Prime Minister Lee is now on a tour of the middle- east, and he took a chartered plane to get there. President Roh said, “Korea is now enjoying its most prosperous era next to the era of King Sejong.” On his visit to Germany, Prime Minister Lee said in front of overseas Koreans living there that “Korea is on a firm foundation”

The remarks made by President Roh and Prime Minister Lee seem to convey an identical message, just as if they were planned before. In this so-called peaceful age, if the remarks made by the two leaders were really true, why are many Koreans suffering from tax, unemployment, bankruptcy and family disintegration in the process? It seems that Koreans and the president are not a match made in heaven.

Song Yeong-eon, Editorial Writer, yeongeon@donga.com