Where is the father?
Until hundreds of years ago, the father was symbolic of power, authority and prop of a society as well as of a family.
He was responsible for all the details of managing a state and running a family. He was the head of state and of family, consequently the final decision-maker. He was the object for family members to follow with respect, for he was the symbol of family spirit. Actually, all the living activities of a family were determined by him.
During the period of modernizing our country at the end of the Lee Dynasty, fathers were revolutionary torch-bearers for national reformation. They were brave and sagacious enough to open the country to the strong global current for modernization.
On the other hand, they were so obstinate and hard-necked as to resist cutting their long hair. For them it was like a beheading to cut off the hair they had kept growing all their life. They were so filial that they believed that everything on the body was received from parents and had to be kept intact throughout life.
During the period of the Korean War, they were soldiers, up with patriotism to defend the country from the attack of communists. Without them there would be no Korea as it is today.
After the Korean War, they were victims of postwar social chaos and lived charged with the responsibility to support their family and were afflicted with the concern about the future of the country and played the key role in steering the country out of the chaos.
During the period of national reconstruction in the 1960s and ’70s, they were industrious workers and the picture of sacrifice for the build-up of the war-shattered and impoverished country. They were also the cross-bearers to tide over the barley pass. To provide minimal food to their family, they had to live without a meal a day. Such sacrifice they made for their country and family led to the construction of today's Korea.
However, on the flip side of things, by now they are all well advanced in age and past the prime time of life. They are standing in the twilight of life. They are left only with the sense of having been abandoned. They even feel like an outcast by society. The very pride they used to feel in working in the hottest desert in Arabic countries only with their family and reconstruction of the country in mind, makes them feel more sorrowful against the reality in which they have no place to stand and they come to realize that they are left in an empty nest when their children have already grown to be fathers of the next generation and begin to feel like a loner.
Looking at them, they feel there's something wrong with the new fathers. They are surprised to discover that their children are too feminized to deserve to be the head of family. They are devoid of authority over family, hen-pecked and concerned only about themselves, and cling to the apron of their wife, thus receive no respect from family members. Therefore, in most families a wife wears the pants.
At this sight the old fathers feel disappointed and deeply worry about the future of their children. In the course of future, anything can happen any time. And how could they bear the onus of the coming history as their fathers did?
Today young fathers are losing their traditional identity as a father but are afraid of making this discovery and reshaping their mind-set because they are too accustomed to the comforts of creatures thanks to the efforts and sacrifice their fathers have made for them, but do not perceive what their old fathers worry about and attribute it to the inevitable change of the times. Yet this is carrying it too far. The father should be recovered by all means.
The writer is principal of Polyglot Day School in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.