Admiral Yi Sun-shin Statue Washing Ceremony
Date April 14th, 2015 | Venue The Statue of Admiral Yi Sun-shin, Gwanghwamun Square
It is a great pleasure to be here today. I am the mayor of Seoul, Park Won-soon. Celebrating the 470th birthday of the immortal hero Admiral Yi Sun-shin, who is alive forever in our hearts, I am honored to have the opportunity to take part in the washing ceremony with the families of Sewol Ferry victims and residents of Asan-si and Yeosu-si. I would like to extend my gratitude to you for joining us.
In two days, it will have been one year since the Sewol Ferry disaster on April 16th. We will never forget that fateful morning one year ago. The Sewol Ferry disaster has taught us that us that the time before a disaster and the time after are completely different. It demanded that we not repeat the disaster of grief, and that we proceed to a new society, fundamentally changing our direction. Let us look back at the time of spring in April, coming back to us. What have we been doing for the last year? Where are we heading?
A poet’s words, “April is the cruelest month,” (T. S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”) is becoming a reality in Korea. Once again, we are having the cruelest April of spring this year. Golden bells and azaleas coming out in April and magnolias and cherry blossoms in full bloom have become flowers blooming on the unfading grave in our hearts. In addition to making the promise that “We will never forget”, we have to now show our commitment to that promise in our actions and practice.
The reason we remember and respect Admiral Yi Sun-shin is because he valued people’s safety over his own, and he showed it in his actions. He prepared for war before war broke out, and thereby prepared for victory. 23 great victories in 23 battles was note a miracle, but instead an inevitable consequence of thorough preparation. Admiral Yi therefore saved countless people’s lives and defended the country. If he were alive today, he would say “No safety, no country.” Regardless of the time and country, the reason a nation and government exist is to keep the people safe and happy.
Today, commemorating Admiral Yi Sun-shin, who valued the people’s safety above all things and put this commitment into practice, I resolve to get ready and prepare more thoroughly and fiercely on the way to securing the safety and happiness of Seoul citizens. We will never forget the Sewol Ferry victims and their families. We will remember. We will act. We will be with you. Thank you very much.