From the 31 December, 2014 edition of Korea Business News - KBN. For more updates like this delivered to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter here.
From the Book of Rites:
Thus it is that in the mourning of three years the highest forms that vary and adorn the ways of men are displayed. Yes, this is what is called the richest exhibition (of human feelings).
From the Analects of Confucius.
Tsai Wo asked about the three years’ mourning for parents, saying that one year was long enough.
‘If the superior man,’ said he, ‘abstains for three years from the observances of propriety, those observances will be quite lost. If for three years he abstains from music, music will be ruined.’
‘Within a year the old grain is exhausted, and the new grain has sprung up, and, in procuring fire by friction, we go through all the changes of wood for that purpose. After a complete year, the mourning may stop.’
The Master said, ‘If you were, after a year, to eat good rice, and wear embroidered clothes, would you feel at ease?’ ‘I should,’ replied Wo.
The Master said, ‘If you can feel at ease, do it. But a superior man, during the whole period of mourning, does not enjoy pleasant food which he may eat, nor derive pleasure from music which he may hear. He also does not feel at ease, if he is comfortably lodged. Therefore he does not do what you propose. But now you feel at ease and may do it.’
Tsai Wo then went out, and the Master said,
‘This shows Yu’s want of virtue. It is not until a child is three years old that it is allowed to leave the arms of its parents. And the three years’ mourning is universally observed throughout the empire. Did Yu enjoy the three years’ love of his parents?’
This is the origin of the 3 year mourning period in Korea and many Asian countries with a strong Confucian tradition. To see these ancient traditions continued today despite the remarkable changes these societies have seen, is what attracts many of us to these cultures in the first place.
Korea Business Consultants director Roger Barrett was honored earlier this month to have been invited to the DPRK embassy in Beijing to mark the end of the 3 year mourning period for Kim Jong-Il. Roger says the atmosphere was somber and dignified. There were many more people than expected bringing flowers and bouquets and paying their respects at the embassy.
KBC's marketing and media manager Chris Fujita was in Pyongyang in February, 2013. On the 16th (Kim Jong-Il's birthday) he visited Kumsusan Palace where the body of Kim Jong-Il was on public display for the first time since his death. There were many foreign dignitaries present, some very well known, and it was an experience he will never forget.
Kim Jong Il hosted Kim Dae Jung from the ROK for the Inter-Korean Summit on the 15th June 2000, and in a significant gesture, he went to the airport to greet his elder visitor. Kim Jong Il visited Beijing, as well as many parts of Northeast, central and South China on several occasions. The train ride to Moscow was a significant for all that is going on now in terms of developments with Russia and ROK.