Lee Si-woo on history, tragedy and the DMZ

History is always cruel to the defeated because it belongs to the victor. History offers a future to the latter, but tragedy to the former. In spite of this, tragedy is beautiful because a solution presupposes the problem that caused the loser to lose, and because as the saying goes, human beings present only those problems that can be resolved. Tragedy is always rooted in reality, not in empty space, in the same way that we can walk the streets on a snowy night with our eyes closed because we walk on our feet, not with our eyes. That’s why an ideal is achievable for those who labour and struggle, but empty for those who do not. Tragedy is accompanied by abiding loneliness, an emotion that differs from desolation. Compared to the latter, which is a passive response to the external environment, loneliness stems from a self-awareness of emptiness and thus contains energy with which to combat the emptiness. The energy contained in loneliness within tragedy and derived from the ideal comes to have a trajectory, albeit uncharted, and precisely for this reason may encounter numerous failures and setbacks but will eventually find its intended path.

Lee Si-woo (trans. Kim Myung-hee)

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