They Call Me Andres


Warm climes and people, a people with leisure at heart that will dance whenever the music comes on, a people who greet you making eye contact with warm hugs - that is Venezuela. While the timing was perfect, the trip was nonetheless out of the blue. Now, back in Korea, I am left with many tasks. Living here, I knew of its many social problems, but I balked at action: Why must I stand in the frontlines of social change? I learned why in Venezuela.

Like our country, pain runs deep in Venezuela. The one difference is they know solidarity. They are used to solidarity and practice it. It made me wonder, if I’d raised my voice in the chorus of opposition after the Sewol Ferry sinking or the Gangjeong Naval base construction, even if it had not resolved the issue, might not someone have been comforted?

I asked the Venezuelans, “How do you become one? I mean how do you overcome conflict and differences?” One elder answered, “We are close to each other. So we overcome conflict by meeting and dialoguing.”

This one answer fulfilled all my expectation of the delegation.

In Korea, to succeed, one must step over someone else. The Socialist government of Venezuela knew well that this was not the way to creating a society of values imbued with warmth. To me, Venezuela emerged as an alternative and solution to our society. The Venezuelans named me Andres. I wonder if Andres is a name like Cholsoo, that name you can find in every neighborhood. Yet, their friendship, jokes, and humor remain planted in my heart.

Venezuela, I know the energy you have given this Andres will become great source of strength.  

Sungwouk Lee (Illustrator)