Kim Sajik


-swimming with a virus-

It is thought that when the human body is infected by a virus, it acquires antibodies to neutralise the foreign organism, causing microscopic changes in the body. But is the body alone prompted to change by viral invasion?
Viruses that pose a health hazard to humans are seen by society as objects to be eliminated. And if the virus is unknown and unidentifiable, the intensity of resistance to it is extremely high, coupled with emotions, due to fear.
In a society that is in the grip of exclusion, people infected with the virus are perceived as ‘harmful and sinister’ and therefore become a foreign entity in society, turning into ‘others’ who are in conflict with a healthy society. The creation and exclusion of ‘others’ from the group has existed from ancient times to the present. It is not only illness that causes people to turn into this social ‘other’, but also race, inequality and appearance, to name but a few. Everyone has the potential to become an excluded other from the society to which they belong.
Since the pandemic, I feel that the values of this ‘other’ have become a little different from what they used to be. Those who affirm the ‘other’, those who deny it, those who seek co-existence, those who try to overcome the virus itself… The reason we hear so many different voices now is that the presence of the virus is causing major changes not only in the body, but also in the mind.
I found an interesting theory in the newspaper.
‘Due to the simplicity of their structure, viruses did not exist from the first origins of the development of life, but only appeared after the appearance of higher organisms as a result of evolution. In other words, the virus was originally ours. It ran away from home, and the host gently welcomes the runaway that came from somewhere else” (words of biologist Shinichi Fukuoka, from the Asahi Shimbun, 3 April 2020).
Human beings are said to be higher organisms. When man appeared on earth, was there already an ‘other’ there? How can we recapture and accept the relationship between ‘self’ and ‘other’ as humans, who constitute and live in society, change physically and mentally through the virus? We feel that this is a question that must be answered by present-day human beings.