Excerpt from a letter sent to the Mayor of Seoul Metropolitan Government
Dear respected and honorable Mayor,
Thank you so very much. (omitted)
There have been many times when I have had to swallow my tears and my heartaches on the job because we haven’t been able to prevent a fire and arrive only to find an atrocious aftermath, and to witness the misfortunes of our citizens.
Sometimes when I brave the devilish smoke and run into a deadly basement through a narrow passage to control the fire and rescue the survivors, I am overcome by the fear of becoming a victim myself, but I find myself drawn to the scene out of my sense of duty and calling.
Although I joined the crew with the mindset of a seeker of truth, sometimes remorse engulfs me; however, with the letters of gratitude I receive from people we have helped and a mayor like you who trusts us, I feel rewarded and can go on from day to day, working my hardest. (omitted)
I ask you then to continue your leadership in managing the administration.
(Firefighter Kim Gyeong-hwan, Response Coordination Team, Jungnang Fire Station)
Today I received this letter from a firefighter.
It is National Firefighter’s Day today and to commemorate it, I wrote a letter of support to the hardworking firefighters, and this was one of the responses I received.
In his letter, firefighter Kim Gyeong-hwan mentions how he ‘runs into a deadly basement’ because he works with the mindset of ‘a seeker of truth.’ These words really touched me.
The following is the letter I wrote in appreciation and gratitude for their sacrifice and dedication.
A letter written by the Mayor of Seoul Metropolitan Government, Park Won Soon
Hello, everyone, this is Park Won Soon.
The days are getting cold, aren’t they? With winter just around the corner, I greet you all warmly. Today is the 50th anniversary of Firefighter’s Day. First of all, I would like to thank you for your hard work on behalf of ten million Seoul citizens. Today is like your birthday, but since you cannot lower your vigilance, you are still work at this very moment. I am deeply appreciative and in great debt to you.
The spirit of the firefighter is the most innocent expression of respect and love for human life.
With all the support I have received from firefighters’ families, I was able to work hard during the past year. During the emergency period, with the heat wave and all the flooding, followed by typhoons, you operated emergency response teams to prevent accidents and responded to the flood of 119 phone calls like they were calls from your own families. Not only that, but you helped to rebuild the lives of those who have lost everything in fires through the relief fund you collected. These are all very charitable and noble acts. I thank you again.
Dear beloved firefighters’ families, of the twelve conference room chairs in the mayor’s office in the City Hall, one was used by your colleague who died in the course of duty while preparing to become a firefighter. Whenever I see that chair, so many thoughts go through my mind. During my early period of office, I stated that I would support the education of talented people, even if it took the sale of Seoul City Hall. I have kept my promise and prioritized the Fire Department. I ordered the relocation of the Fire Academy, and the administrative procedures on site are under way as we speak.
There has always been pain where you work. For this reason, even when you have done your job well, you cannot always be happy. I am sure that at times you have to deal with hidden heartache, unable to completely forget what you have seen and felt in the field. But I would like you to remain strong in order to continue protecting the happiness of the citizens who rely on you. Once again, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Firefighter’s Day, I want to congratulate you and your families. I wish for your future safety, health and happiness. Thank you very much.
November 9, 2012, Mayor Park Won Soon of Seoul Metropolitan Government