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Admiral Yi’s leadership needed for the nagging military problem

Admiral Yi’s leadership needed for the nagging military problem

Posted August. 06, 2014 06:18,   


President Park Geun-hye hosted the first Cabinet meeting after the summer vacation on Tuesday and ordered to punish those who killed Yoon, an Army private first class, and abetted the killing as a warning to others. Given that the ferry Sewol disaster was a watershed moment for President Park, it is the beginning of the second part of her presidency. As the ruling Saenuri Party claimed an overwhelming victory in the July 30 by-elections, President Park created an opportunity to get out of the political stalemate caused by the ferry disaster.

As President Park has loads of tasks to tackle, the Korean people are longing all the more for leadership. The public’s thirst for leadership is reflected in the soaring popularity of “Roaring Currents (the Battle of Myeongnyang),” a movie on a maritime battle led by Admiral Yi Sun-shin of the Joseon Dynasty, which sets a new record every day. If the Battle of Hansan is a fancy musical, the Battle of Myeongnyang would be a serious opera. Audiences shed tears at the leadership of Admiral Yi who said to the king who made him suffer after being deceived by other people, “Your Majesty, I still have 12 vessels” and fought against more than 300 Japanese vessels. This would have been all the more impressive as they were enraged by the irresponsible and incapable leaders in every corner of this society in the wake of the ferry disaster.

Admiral Yi was not a merciful man. He cut the neck of soldiers who ran away out of fear with his sword. However, he did not just punish them as a warning. He knew how to show leadership. After learning from an old man in the neighborhood, he knew how to take advantage of the strong currents and direction of Myeongnyang (Uldolmok). Above all, he changed soldiers’ fear into courage by standing at the forefront of the troops and showing this by action: “If you fight at the risk of your life, all will survive, but if you want to survive alone, all will die.”

As President Park said, assaults have persisted despite the military’s years of efforts. An order to punish those responsible alone cannot address the problem. It is the same story with the ferry disaster. The president ordered to send a Coastal Guard SWAT Team and search every corner of the ferry Sewol but no life was saved. The strong currents of Uldolmok in the movie “Roaring Currents” remind me of the strong currents of the place where the ferry sank. Many young souls died waiting for help. The parents who sent their son to the military would be also uneasy.

Admiral Yi said, “The general should seek loyalty, and loyalty must be directed towards the people.” President Park said she would devote everything for the country, saying, “I have no parents and nothing to lose or gain.” Her loyalty should be about caring people and giving a practical help to them. President Park should show a new leadership to overcome the ferry disaster and root out the persistent problem in the military.