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The news out of Asia this weekend was both bizarre and sad.

The economy has everyone worried. Photo:fab to pix

First came the report that former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun had committed suicide by flinging himself off a cliff while hiking with a security guard. The President asked the guard for a cigarette and then jumped off the cliff; though alive, according to The Korea Times, he died several hours later at the hospital.

Roh Moo-hyun was under investigation for corruption, though his supporters believed the charges to be overblown. The former President had campaigned and been elected on an anti-corruption platform, and was widely considered to be one of the country’s strongest modern leaders. He improved relations with North Korea and was admired for his rags-to-riches personal story: he had grown up in a poor family and managed to become a human rights lawyer.

Then, barely 24 hours later, came the report from China that a citizen disgruntled by a traffic jam caused by a man contemplating a suicidal leap from a bridge decided to resolve the issue entirely by pushing the man off the bridge.

Chen Fuchao climbed onto the bridge’s railing to consider ending his worries about debt. Police cordoned off the bridge, halting all car traffic for several hours. This infuriated passerby Lai Jiansheng, who called Chen’s actions selfish. Lai approached police–shoeless–and offered to help talk Chen down. When police refused his help, Lai plowed through the barricade, shook Chen’s hand, and pushed him off the bridge.

Chen survived the incident, though he sustained spinal and elbow injuries.

Community Connection:

Economic times are hard, and few people are unaffected by the worldwide recession. Our Voices from the Economic Crisis series includes stories from Matador contributors who recount the local impacts of a depressed economy. If you’re feeling depressed, don’t try to handle your feelings on your own. For some solid advice, check out Claire Litton’s article, “How to Manage Clinical Depression on the Road.”

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About The Author

Julie Schwietert

Julie Schwietert Collazo is a writer, editor, researcher, and translator currently in New York, formerly of Mexico City and San Juan.

  • Colin Wright

    A lot of people that I’ve spoken to about their financial woes have felt a million times better after doing a few simple things.

    1) Figure out what the problem is. It there is actually clinical depression involved, then it will take quite a bit more than a positive state of mind to fix the problem and therapy/meds should be sought. If the problem is money, then a new personal business model needs to be created. Make sure that you actually identify the REAL problem, however…it won’t do you much good to try to make more money when what you’re really concerned about is your ailing mother or body image.

    2) Create a plan and write it down. It may seem like a silly exercise, but writing something down solidifies an idea and makes it more tangible (and therefore more likely to be acted on). This also gives a solid platform on which to build a solution (and you will be able to cross problems off the list as they are solved).

    3) Identify solutions and work out worse-case scenarios for each. This serves the same purpose as a pro/con list, but with the benefit of only considering the absolute worse results of your actions. Once you are able to look at the worst that can happen and say ‘Actually, that’s not as bad as I would have thought,’ you’ll be much more able to move forward with your solutions with gusto, rather than walking along the periphery and wondering if you should risk stepping in with both feet.

    4) Act. Getting started is the hardest part, but once you have, the momentum will pick up and there will be a lot less to worry about (why worry about something that you are actively fixing?).

    5) Relax. You earned it.

  • Hal

    Holy crap, hadn’t heard that about Roh Moo-hyun. He was in office when I lived in Seoul. Tragic.

  • Ankita

    I agree Julie, that the two incidents are not merely bizarre but also extremely sad. However, I fail to see the connection of the two incidents, with the state economy in Asia.
    The connection, if there is any, would at best be remote; personal reasons seem to have pushed these people to behave in such a peculiar manner.
    I do believe that every once in a while, bizarre incidents present themselves and interesting people push themselves off limits, almost anywhere.

    An interesting piece though. And thanks for all the tips Colin.

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