Passion, everybody’s got it, right?
Culture & Sports Editor
I had a rare chance to listen to the Prague Philharmonia recently at Seoul Arts Center. Rare because the orchestra does not visit Seoul often, and also, I was seated smack in the center of the front row.
What that means is that I had the full view of the young orchestra as well as the full back view of its energetic conductor Ondřej Vrabec as he led his musicians. Performing for two days last week, the young orchestra not only played such Czech compositions as Dvorak’s Czech Suite but also works by Beethoven, W. A. Mozart and G. Rossini.
Listening to the orchestra perform Beethoven’s Symphony No.7 ― one of the most popular of his symphonies ― I was able to feel Beethoven’s love for music, which the energetic young orchestra and its conductor passionately delivered without any over-interpretation.
Their performance was part of the month-long exchange between the cities of Seoul and Prague, this time being Seoul hosting Prague and Czech culture. In 2008, Prague hosted Seoul and Korean culture. The growth of the orchestra was partly possible because of support from the Prague city and Czech government, reports said. Perhaps government ― either central or local ― support can be empowering, if done with a specific goal and with passion.
The word passion or the search for passion is heavily underway in Korea, it seems. It’s understandable, if the age of a nation or the status of a nation can be compared to the age cycle of people. When people reach their mid-40s, they struggle to tap into a spring of passion that had stirred them in their youth. Modern Korea may well be at that point, having started industrialization in 1960s to reach its affluence now, the country is at a point where it needs to rediscover its passion to go forward.
Coincidentally, the audition reality programs are all the rage in the nation and its winners become immediate stars. Almost every major network and cable channels feature audition programs for aspiring singers, actors and announcers and whatnot.
Why? As an ardent fan of a few of such programs, it’s not difficult to feel emphatic connection to the participants not only because of their talent but also their passion to achieve their dreams.
Take this line of thought to another realm, and we would arrive in Korean politics. Korean politics have offered a tantalizing dynamism in its history. Fueled by the passion to end military-led authoritarian regimes, the passion to achieve democracy as well as that innate human desire for power, Korean politics has always been an alluring drama to watch.
Wednesday’s election that selected a new Seoul mayor was a drama to be watched, for it was telling of what’s likely to come next year, as Korean voters pick their next President.
In the Seoul mayoral byelection, gone were the political heavyweights of the past and present were the different faces ― Na Kyung-won, a relatively younger female representative from the ruling Grand National Party, and while a not young, Park Won-soon, the unified opposition candidate, who emerged from the civic groups to leap over all existing political boundaries.
Na’s candidacy was buttressed by the “election queen,” Rep. Park Geun-hye, who is deemed a strong presidential candidate for the December presidential election next year. Park Won-soon was supported by former doctor-turned-IT mogul-turned professor Ahn Cheol-soo, whose life story was all about passion becoming a reality.
By the time this column is printed, one of them will be the new Seoul city mayor. Both camps had the element of the new, the different to offer to the voters ― the Na-Park duo the gender element and the Park-Ahn duo the non-traditional political force. Their proffering or hints of promises of change is what made them appealing to voters.
But let’s not be hazy-eyed idealistic about the word “change,” and admit that what we’re looking for really is a passion that is new or rediscovered or innovated to take us to the next stage.