For the last 100 days since my inauguration as your mayor, no, in fact for many more days since the moment I first announced I would run for the mayorship,
I’ve lived through the noisiest moments in my life.
Coming down from Baekdudaegan (a mountain range running from Baekdusa (Mountain) to Jirisan (Mountain), often referred to as the ‘spine’ of the Korean Peninsula), I was mobbed by photographers (expecting my announcement to run for the campaign). The sound of cameras flashing was like a deafening roar.
Since then I’ve had to live through feverish criticism on the one hand and amazing cheers from crowds jam packed into plazas on the other. I have passed through moments where it seemed all these things were occurring in a vacuum.’
Even after I became your mayor, the noise never let up.
The voice of a citizen crying to me, “Don’t talk about hope so easily” still rings in my ears.
“This policy is wrong in this part.” “That policy must go in this direction.” “Compensate that and take responsibility for this.” Despite the cold weather, there are always people picketing outside City Hall. I feel terrible as I cannot invite them inside (*They wouldn’t accept the invitation: they’re picketing).
The Post-its on the walls of my office talk back to me as if they had a voice.
Intensive discussions are a daily thing. The government officials at City Hall, who are quite well acquainted with me, whether high-ranking or not, keep asking me questions about a broad range of things: transportation, new towns (*Seoul’s plan to build five new towns under a re-development project), rental houses, disaster prevention, safety, debts, food, childcare, jobs, meetings with VIPs, interviews, reports, meetings, ceremonies, policies, and on and on.
Thank goodness that now officials are not just waiting for my orders. They participate in discussions with me, making me much more comfortable.
However, when I get exhausted, physically and mentally, I feel that things are quite ‘noisy.’
Of course, I feel that way because there are noises. But I know that feeling that way can be very dangerous.
The moment I feel that the sounds are too loud, I think I’m no longer qualified to do this job.
I know that I have to listen to the sounds wholeheartedly and accept them not just as sounds but as my mission, and not just as civil complaints or tasks to carry out but as history in the making.
Today was a day of ‘deliberation.’ Once a week, we choose one or two topics and have an in-depth discussion. We check all the information and policies involved and engage in intensive discussion before coming to a final decision.
In the morning, we talked about jobs and in the afternoon about food, for three hours each.
It’s true that it’s a laborious task. Except for two ten-minute breaks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, you have to stay glued to your seat.
Throughout those quiet hours, some doze and others manage to open their eyes widely. I feel sorry for them, but yes, it’s interesting to see them, too.
For my part, I cannot hang my head or close my eyes for long at all.
Why? Because everybody, and sometimes a camera, is staring at me. A mayor is always ‘under the scrutiny of ten thousand people (*meaning the whole of mankind).’
One, when someone was giving a presentation in a very quiet place, I suddenly felt that ‘his presentation was a deafening roar.’
While more than half of the participants were fighting against sleepiness, a single person’s ideas were ringing loud throughout the entire space. The sound was forceful, a high-decibel roar.
While more than half of us were struggling against sleepiness, there was still vitality in our quietness as well.
We had a dream to realize and that dream concerned a lot of people.
We were mustering extreme concentration towards a common goal despite extreme drowsiness.
We studied issues surrounding job creation and the food industry all day long. We were as serious as archers focusing on hitting the bull’s eye.
The place was quiet but beneath the underlying quietness was a thunderous roar reverberating to the very depths of our soul.
The world is noisy by nature. Yes, the streets of Seoul are full of noises. But listen carefully. They are not just noises. They are roars made by a passion for life.
The sounds are evidence of life, something inevitable when you struggle to survive, when you run around to save others.
Everybody is living their life with passion, creating an ear-splitting racket. They pass through these moments seemingly believing that all the sounds they make are absorbed in a vacuum.
They remain quiet no matter how noisy the world is, just making the thunderous sound of life.
Nevertheless it’s true that there is ‘noise’ in the world that is of no use to anyone.
‘A human’s insides’ can be extremely noisy if greed takes the place of one’s passion for life.
No matter how high they raise their voices, trying to brag or scare others, their eyes keep blinking, their hands keep trembling, and their mouths keep drying. In the end, we know who they really are.
And they become a laughing stock. There are so many kinds of sound in the world.
The day of deliberation is coming to a close. The hours of passion with so many roars are passing between quietness and roars.
Dear citizens, I wish you all a comfortable evening. Have a good night and tomorrow let us live a thunderous life. I expect that kind of vitality from everyone.