Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Death of a Fighter for Freedom
The bishop who heads the Peace and Justice Committee said, in his funeral message, "The deceased, a human rights lawyer, worked wholly for democratizing Korea. He was the mouthpiece for those who suffered unjustly. He lived as a disciple of Jesus and now is gone." He was to all of us like a zelkova tree, whose widely spreading branches provide relief to all those who come to rest in its shade.
When he was a judge in Daejon he became a friend of a priest of the diocese, and soon took an interest in the Catholic Church. He was baptized in 1974.
In his own life, he suffered much for being a spokesperson for those whose rights were being ignored and trampled on. He was threatened with death and followed by detectives; his phone was tapped and he was finally interrogated and imprisoned. But he never gave up his quest for the rights of citizens, although suffering during this time from many ailments: heart problems and cancer and was operated on for a leg condition. He considered all his problems as badges given to him by God.
During the movement for democracy, beginning in June of 1987, at the age of 65, he walked with the young people to the Cathedral, demanding the end of the dictatorship. As far back as 1978, as a member of the Justice and Peace Committee-- becoming chairman of the Bishops' Committee in '86--he never lost sight of his goal. Respected and an inspiration to all who fight for citizen rights, he was truly a disciple of Jesus. May he rest in peace.