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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Honeysuckle President


After decades of imprisonment and violent repression, Kim Dae-jung returned to his native South Korea to lead it, under the sign of an enduring flower.


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A mourner in the memorial room of Severance Hospital in Seoul, South Korea, pays respects to the former president Kim Dae-jung (known as “honeysuckle”) who died August 18, 2009.

Photo: Xinhua

Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, 85, died on Tuesday. Jailed by his countrymen, exiled, sentenced to death, and targeted for assassination, Kim then triumphed. He won 1997’s presidential elections and earned the Nobel Peace Prize three years later after arranging the first international summit of the two Koreas, meeting North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il face to face in Pyongyang.

Some called Kim Dae-jung “The Nelson Mandela of Korea.” But he was better known as “honeysuckle” - the nickname he preferred. The paper Chosun Ibo said Tueday, “It is difficult to find a better way to sum up Kim’s life than the flower.” Jīn yín huā, the Korean word for this common plant, means “overcoming hardship.”

In the U.S. honeysuckle, with a cloying fragrance, shaggy form and little white and yellow flowers, is considered old-timey, even weedy. But Koreans admire how Lonicera japonica rambles on with “unyielding determination.” The weather in Korea runs to extremes, yet honeysuckle survives its harshest winters and reblooms each summer.


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Posted by Julie on 08/19 at 09:41 PM
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