Looking at the Stars
By Kim Sung-Ku
Gangjeong villager and poet (Jeju Island, South Korea)
The stars which used to shine in my distant memory are still in my heart despite the passing of 50 years. The river of stars flowing in the Milky Way is a scene which one hardly sees in the modern times running toward development. One day in April 2007, I was anxious, not knowing what I could do after hearing an unbelievable story about naval base construction in my village.
Now the base has become a reality and the Gureombi rock covered by cement for the base construction has become a memory. The hill where I flew kites, the ditch where I caught frogs and minnows, and Gureombi rock - the rest area where we used to share food in my childhood disappeared. And now they have become unbearable to look at with concrete and buildings replacing them. Totally strange men who kicked out my memories openly stride there.
The true masters of the land have been kicked out. And now false masters pretend to take their place. The naval base was nominally built for the development of the village. But the development has torn the hearts of the villagers to pieces. The site with the dramatically and luxuriously changed look has now become land where we cannot reach or stand. Is this progress?
The splendid lights have been taken out from the river of stars in the Milky Way. The numerous memories of our fathers, their fathers, and their fathers, have now been cut. The distance between us has also grown. Alas, I look at the stars and sky with all my last desperate energy. Today only memory is alive. I struggle to save that memory, hoping the stars and sky will remain in my heart.....