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Posted December. 18, 2007 02:41,   


Daniel, who works for an advertising company in Los Angeles, died in a crash in his new convertible he bought himself on his 36th birthday. His spirit is in a place called “the city of judgment,” which is between life and death. Judges here, after looking at video images of the dead person when he or she was alive, decide whether they will be sent to a better place than earth. One of the judges says the most important factor is whether that person lived a life without fear. He says, “Those who lived life with little fear were wise. Peace and wisdom is developed when a person fears nothing. The biggest enemy blocking feelings like happiness, joy, or confidence is nothing but fear.”

This is a line from the movie: “Defending Your Life.”

In the finals of Figure Skating Grand Prix in Torino, Italy on December 15, Kim Yu-na defeated Mao Asada in the first round of women’s single short program thanks to her inner strength and ability to overcome fear. Asada and Kim both made the same mistakes doing the triple loop jump. While Asada could not continue doing her moves and left the rink, Kim continued with other jumps of a high difficulty level. She said after the competition, “I was shaken a little, but concentrated on doing my next move.”

Fear can determine whether one will survive or die. Bang Yeong-joo, a professor at Seoul National University Medical School, who has taken care of cancer patients in the terminal stage for the last twenty years, said, “At the end of the day, cancer is also a fight against fear. It is not physical pain but despair from the ailment that patients succumb to. People lose the will for life and develop a sense of futility, anger, self-accusation and fear of death when they are diagnosed with cancer.”

It is not easy to rid oneself of fear. Unless you are a god, most people suppress the feeling of fear while trying to survive, just like the male character in the move “Lust, Caution,” reminding themselves of a quote by Aristotle, “Those who seek peace of mind need to be humble, recognizing that completion is impossible, but need to keep trying to achieve it.”

Editorial Writer Heo Moon-Myung, angelhuh@donga.com