The COVID-19 crisis, which appeared to be nearing its end, seems to be replaced by a new challenge - an economic one. With high prices and high interest rates posing difficulties to lower-income families, the unbearable heat wave and heavy rain in the summer and cold wave in the winter, and the social calamity that claimed previous lives were unendurable. Despite these challenges, some people made great achievements overcoming difficulties and inspiring others.
One of the most well-known is the Korean national football team at the 2022 Qatar World Cup games. The national football team members reversed the game by 2:1 in the match with Portugal, which has a higher FIFA ranking than Korea, entering the round of 16. The message written by the national football team quickly became the buzzword of the year: “Keep a steady heart and persevere.”
The successful launch of the Nuri space rocket in June was also a major achievement, the outcome of tireless trials and errors of scientists over 12 years and three months. When the initial launch failed in October last year, scientists spent endless nights analyzing the cause of the failure, poring over 2,600 cases of flight information. Trials and errors of the previous two failures became the foundation for Nuri’s successful launch.
A steady heart and perseverance serve as a motivation to survive in the darkest hour. Park Jeong-ha, a mine worker trapped in a mine shaft 190 meters underground in a zinc mine located in Bongwha County, North Gyeongsang Province, was rescued nine days after the accident, living on 30 bags of instant coffee and mineral water. “I couldn’t just die without saying sorry to my wife, whom I gave a hard time,” he said.
A Korean drama depicting a success story of a lawyer with developmental difficulties became widely popular. In contrast, professional golfer Lee Seung-min with developmental difficulties won the first U.S. Adaptive Open. “I’m slower than others, but I never give up,” said Lee, who says he overcomes developmental limitations with endless practice. An entrepreneur who decided to promote the rights of disabled persons after his son was diagnosed with autism determined that he would help build a social system to stand on its own instead of his possessions. The son grew up and can stand on his own with a job. New social welfare regulations are being introduced to help support the disabled. The determination to improve the social system instead of regarding disability as personal misfortune triumphed.
We have a more challenging year ahead of us. However, as Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling said in her speech to Harvard, “And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” Even if one falls into a bottomless pit, there is hope if one keeps a steady heart and perseveres.