I'm a journalist, a wordsmith as well as a storyteller. I lived in France, from whence I recently received the sad and shocking news, between 2009 to 2012 for three years. In many ways it was there that I first tasted what 'true liberty' was. It was also while reading cartoons in Charlie Hebdo that I understood what 'a picture's worth a thousand words' really meant. It was (and is) an organization that poked fun at and criticized not only Islam but all religious, political and cultural figures. The caricatures were endless; they were Michael Jackson, North Korea's Kim Jung Un, and even Pope Benedict. Its predecessor entity, Hara Kiri, even dared to ridicule its former president Charles De Gaulle on his passing.
These warning shots often engendered small and large controversies, but most French people accepted them for what they were -- cutting satires. So I can't help but wonder what a world where every one of the Hebdo cartoon subjects retaliated with force would look like. It's horrifying and devastating to receive such tragic news from the other side of the planet, especially as it comes from France where freedom of expression is held in highest regard. It's as if someone gagged me, made me dumb, severed my limbs. I am also incredibly saddened when I remember the victims. Before their identity as journalists, they were first and foremost loved family members as well as cherished friends. These people were forced to part with the most precious human right, life itself. No matter what the reason, terrorism cannot be condoned. No one has the right to take another's life; and more because it involved journalists, the memories of their death will long stain the collective psyche of media and its workers. Still, I'm confident that history will prove that their demise was not in vain. For all the editors here in Korea, we send our regrets and deepest sympathies to the families and loved one.