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[Opinion] Tears of Bitterness

Posted December. 24, 2005 03:00,   


When asked what it takes to become a female leader, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, who visited Korea last month, said, “Consistent effort, self-control, tolerance, humanity, and a brazen face.”

The virtue of having a “brazen face” always includes not crying in front of others. That is because if one cries in public, it makes other people feel that they can’t let one do an important job.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel or U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton, who would be a strong Democratic Party candidate for America’s 2008 presidential election, are considered not weak but strong, tough women.

U.S. businesswoman Martha Stewart once said, “Don’t even cry in a toilet if you want to survive in the workplace.”

It’s rare for men to cry. Whether it is due to differences in hormones or lachrymal glands between men and women, or the knowledge that productivity can be enhanced when one’s emotions are under control, it is hard to imagine a heroic figure sobbing regardless of age and circumstances.

Instead, a hero’s tears are generally treated as hypocritical “crocodile tears.” However, it is possible for men’s tears to be regarded as humane because they are rare.

Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who successfully handled the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, and President Roh Moo-hyun, who showed his tears in an advertisement for the 2002 presidential election, garnered the support of the people after showing tears.

Cardinal Kim Soo-hwan’s gathered something else. While mentioning the controversy over Hwang Woo-suk in a special Christmas interview with the Pyeonghwa Shinmun, he said, “It is shame that Korean people feel in the world…” but couldn’t finish his words and began to cry. Kim then continued, “With the controversy, we Koreans should look back on how dishonest we have been and how much we have neglected the truth in the past.”

Glen Handler, the author of the book “Emotional Men,” says, “Men’s tears are differently evaluated according to his behavior and looks.”

Handler has a point. The reason why “dragon’s tears” are so touching is because of the fact that it is a dragon that is actually crying. If a python cries and even if it wails loudly, it will rarely elicit a sympathetic response from people because of the fact that it is a snake that is crying. That is why I was touched by the deep thoughts of Kim, who asked Koreans to consider the current situation as a matter that affects all of us. I wonder if the one who committed the wrongdoing in the first place in this case will shed tears of bitterness as well.

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