Counting the storks

I read in the Korea Herald today that five black-tailed storks were seen in a paddy at Changbung-ni. Farmers spotted them first and then the provincial bureaucrats ``confirmed the birds' presence'' in the field. The storks have flown from some snowy north -- from beyond the Diamond Mountains? From cold provinces of China? From icy plateaus of Mongolia? Of course they are messengers, not just metaphors of a long and marvelous journey. They are signs of a miracle that erases boundaries and summons pompous officials out of warm offices to count the proud visitors to Kyehwa-pyon. They entice the newspaper in Seoul to put a story and picture at the top of Page 5, next to the rising GNP, the soaring demand for electricity, and across from the party for foreign diplomats given by the Minister of Culture. It makes me feel closer kin to a faraway country that stops to count storks in a provincial ricefield and makes it part of the world's news.

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