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[Op-Ed] Neverland

Posted July. 03, 2009 05:21,   


Neverland first appeared in British novelist J. M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan,” a land in which the title character encountered adventures with Wendy, his sisters, and the fairy Tinkerbell against the one-eyed Captain Hook. Barrie’s Neverland has several suns and moons and no concept of time. Children can see whatever they want once they reach the summit of Neverpeak in the middle of Neverland. The fictional land is a make believe place and a symbol of a bygone childhood.

The late pop music icon Michael Jackson, who was a legend when alive but now a myth after his death, named his land in California “Neverland.” He might have sought to use the place to be compensated for his extraordinary childhood. His father Joe Jackson discovered his son’s talent at an early age and harshly disciplined him. In an interview with the BBC last year, the elder Jackson said, “I whipped him with a belt. But I did not beat him. When you beat him, you use a stick, don’t you?”

Neverland, which Michael Jackson had built after buying a golf resort in 1988, has a mansion, zoo and theme park consisting of 24 rides such as a rollercoaster and bumper cars. Just as children in the era when the novel “Peter Pan” came out thought playing pirates was the greatest adventure, Jackson might have thought his theme park was a resort that could recapture his childhood. Hit by a series of difficulties – the side effects of plastic surgery, child molestation charges, diminished popularity, and financial difficulty, he left Neverland in 2005.

Even after his death, Neverland is not the ideal resting place for him. Jackson’s family hopes to bury him in Neverland, a place he cherished, but California state law does not allow this. At the end of the novel “Peter Pan,” the protagonist asks Wendy to return to Neverland together but she rejects. A boy grows into an adult and a girl becomes a mother. Just as Peter Pan, who refused to become an adult, remains a children’s idol, Michael Jackson will remain an idol to those who love music forever. Perhaps the late singer is moonwalking in Neverland now.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)