Wednesday, 10th of March

Today is a special day for two completely different and unrelated reasons, although both could be represented by one colour: white.

Firstly and most obviously, today was white because of all the snow that fell in the early morning. Trying to leave my apartment was literally walking into a snow storm. There was actually a strong wind which drove the snow around and into my eyes. The cold had also frozen the first snow and earlier rain into ice so the cars were driving very slowly and walking was precarious.

The sun did come out later, closer to midday, but the snow did not melt until a warmer rain later in the evening.

The second thing that is significant about today’s date is that it is the one-year anniversary of the death of the cycling mathematics professor from Chonnam National University, named Baek Jeong-sun. One year ago today he was struck and killed by a bus while riding his bicycle home from work as was his daily routine.

White is the traditional colour of death in Korea. It is also the colour of monuments left for cyclists who have died on roads overseas. I would like to see such a mmemorial left for Professor Baek, but I am unsure if it is ‘culturally appropriate’ for me to suggest it.

I tend to believe that culture is less relevant in issues of life and death like this. Here, I think the most important commonality is the death, and the risk of it, as shared by cyclists. I think that if there were more ‘ghost bikes‘ around this country, then more money would sooner be spent (although not much would be needed!) on making separate bicycle lanes for cyclists on roads, and these lanes would be separated from cars by walls or fences of some sort.

This is a worthy secondary aim of having such monuments clearly visible around any land where car drivers endanger the lives of cyclists. The primary aim, however, would be to commemorate the life of this significant member of the Korean educational community, and this wonderfully nice man from our beautiful city of Gwangju.

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