Because of the foreign exchange crisis during the last years of the 1990s, many city families decided to go to the quiet of the country and take up farming. Although many were returning to a life they had known before, few knew anything about farming. So with failure following failure, many returned to the city.
This trend continued for about two years after the foreign exchange difficulties, but gradually the numbers began to decrease. In 2004 it increased again, with about 1000 families moving each year to the country. The Kyeongyang magazine gives us a look at some of these families in the Andong diocese.
For the last eight years the diocese has had a get-together for those who decided to go to the country to farm the land in an effort to help them meet others with the same problems, and to help them in their faith life in their new surroundings. They may all be planting different crops, but they are all facing similar difficulties.
One of the difficulties is the tendency to worry about what the established farm neighbors may be thinking about their neophyte farming neighbors: are they wondering how long we will be able to endure this new life? When they do ask for help from the more experienced farmers, they are likely to hear: " It's just a matter of doing what you are doing."--farmers are not going to go into details.
There are those who go to the country not to farm but to prepare for retirement. Others go to leave behind working by the clock and quarreling about nothing, preferring to come to the country to live more peacefully, surrounded by clean air and water.
Whether returning to farm or for other reasons--it is a return to nature. Even if nothing is done, returning to the country, especially when farming the land, is important. In the words of one who made the return to the farm 13 years ago: "Before, my priorities were 'me' and the competition to earn money. Here on the farm it is 'we' and the peaceful life that concern us."
At the Mass for those who returned to the farm, the bishop said, "The primary reason for farming is to produce healthful food. It nurtures life and is holy work, purifying those who farm with proper intentions. Environmentally friendly farming, organic and life-giving, is not easy. However, with effort you will find satisfaction, nothing will be beyond your capabilities. You have experienced this and will continue to experience it. Although farming is a difficult life, you are living the life of the beatitudes."