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[Opinion] Saojeong and Oruk-do

Posted March. 16, 2003 22:34,   


Confucius, the great Chinese scholar and philosopher, wrote about men and ages in his book `the Analects.` He noted that a man first lets his name known to the world at the age of 30, becomes a humble man at 40 and understands the will of God at 50. In the past, when information and knowledge was scant and labor was the main driving force of the economy, a man must have gone through many ups and downs and learned the lesson of the life by the time he reached 40. Then by 50, he came to understand the way this universe works, growing aloof to worldly things.

Now, however, it is all different story. It is an age of Saojeong (a character in an old storybook `Seoyugi`) and Oruk-do (five small isles off the east coast). Here, Saojeong refers to retirement at 45 and Oruk-do means that a man is treated as a thief if he stays until 56. Men in their 40s and 50s, who had been a strong pillar of the agriculture society in the past, were reduced to uninvited guests going through the financial crisis in the late 1990s. After seeing the line-up of presidential secretaries and of high-ranking prosecutors in the new government, many older men must feel bitter.

“When a man reaches his middle years, he learns that there is neither God nor the evil in the world but humans,” wrote a book entitled `the Mid Life` about men in their 40s and 50s. After they have gone through the young years of passion, people begin to see things as they are. It is uncertain, however, that this eulogy holds true in this age of information. All people from the so-called 386 generation don’t lack in experience. Likewise, some people in their 70s are still as passionate as they used to. Judging people by their ages, then, must be of no good. It is said that age is nothing but a number.

Looking at the new line-up of high-level prosecutors, we just feel something is missing. It is not saying that the reform effort is not right or suggesting that the government let incompetent self-serving prosecutors stay. Our concern is that prosecutors, who passed their middle years but still are competent and hard working, could find it hard to stay. Men in their 40s and 50s, suffering from the Saojeong and Oruk-do syndrome, might further lose their confidence. If so, it is very worrisome since they will not be able to say courageously `Shall We Dance` as the man in the movie.