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[Opinion] Chronic Noise

Posted September. 06, 2006 07:01,   


In 1976, France and Britain opened the era of the supersonic speed passenger plane by jointly developing the Concorde which flew at Mach 2.04 (1,370 km per hour). But the Concorde had a serious problem with noise. The explosive noise produced when shifting to supersonic speed, a sonic boom, was so great that it could only fly over oceans and never over land before ceasing flying in 2003. The U.S. and Japan, which are developing the next generation supersonic speed passenger plane, are devoting themselves into research on an engine with 1/100th the noise of that of the Concorde. The first class seats are placed right behind the pilot seat where the noise is the lowest.

The competition among the world’s car makers to develop noiseless cars is harsh. In particular, the Korean consumers are extremely sensitive to noise. President Roh Moo-hyun, elected by people sensitive to noise, made an extraordinary comment in Greece. He proposed a unique standard, “When there is significant noisy sounds within a nation, it is a signal that the president is working hard, and when it is quiet, the president is being idle.” I wonder whether the nation and the Koreans abroad, who are familiar with the old saying, “An empty cart is clamorous,” did not find such a comment very rash and disturbing.

Crowds on the street have words that express the previous presidents with one word each. “Iron” is for Park Jeong-hee, “rock” for Jeon Du-hwan, and “water" for Roh Tae-woo. YS who brought about the foreign exchange crisis is called “a blank” (as in a lottery), and DJ who was expected to be a ready president “a flat.” People used to say that the succeeding president will be called “rashness” with all the clean up jobs following the pour into North Korea piled up upon him, and the decision whether that would be the right word for President Roh depend on the standards of the people. Do they also say that they`re worried the president to be elected next year when the national security and the economy are expected to be more unstable will be titled a “quack”?

These words could be disrespectful jokes, but the comment by the president on the noisy sounds is far from being high level humor, too. It seems to be out of reason to say that noisy sounds mean hard works by the president, even though they could attract some attention. Quite Roh Moo-hyun-suggestive, it is. “European Heart Journal” published a thesis last year that said that the daily exposure to chronic noise raises the probability of a heart attack.

Kim Sun-deok, Editorial writer, yuri@donga.com