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[Opinion] Three Parties with One Coin Loss to Each

Posted March. 30, 2003 22:33,   


When separation of powers was an unknown concept, an official with administrative authority acted also as a judge. When powers belonging to the executive and the judicial branches were wielded by one person, lots of abuses were committed. Thus, people, for example, received unfair trials quite a number of times. It was an act foreseen by Montesquieu. He warned, in L`Esprit des lois, or The Spirit of Laws, that failure to separate the judicial authority from the executive one would result in smothering of freedom. He also said that arbitrariness would prevail in making decisions related to life and freedom of a citizen. Thus, he concluded that an official having the two powers would wield the power of a tyrant. That is why a negative connotation is felt, listening to the term "Wonnim Trial," or Trial by Local Administrator.

▷But that was not the case all the times. The literature recording trial proceedings shows how the administrators cherished evidence in making rulings. We know of numerous wise decisions made by ancient South Korean and Chinese administrators, who could be compared to Solomon. Thus, they did not bind themselves with legal theories, and used wisdom and insight in ruling on cases.

▷A story has it that, one day during the Chosun Dynasty, a local administrator in Changnyeong got to rule on a conflict wherein a claim to three coin was disputed by two parties. A person alleged that he had lost three coins on the road, while the other party, who allegedly picked them up on the road, claimed his title to them, arguing that he did not pick them up at all. Faced with the difficulty in determining whether the coins were really the lost ones, the administrator added one more coin and made it four; and then split them in half and gave two to each party. That way, each person, including the administrator himself, lost one coin. First, the person, who claimed to have lost his coins, received only two, leaving one uncompensated for. On the other hand, the person, whose possession three coins were found in, also lost one since, if true, he gave up one for free to another. Finally, the administrator lost one since he chipped in a coin himself. So, with each of three parties losing one, the administrator suggested to wrap up the case. Of course, the claimants agreed to it.

▷Now, the U.N. Security Council has only one coin named resolution. In addition, Hussein and Bush are not willing to sustain the loss of one coin, insisting on a sink-or-swim approach. Thus, all parties are getting bogged down into the desperate war. But the war feels special to South Koreans, who worry that it might spill into another war against North Korea over its nuclear ambition. North Korea believes that the United States would topple its leadership, while the latter guesses that the former will threaten its national security with nuclear weapons. Regardless of the format of dialog, the fact of matter is how we could obtain one-coin yield each from Pyongyang and Washington by giving what coin. Would it sound too mundane to argue that Seoul gives out one coin in the form of economic aid or disarmament promise in return for Pyungyang`s promise to scrap its nuclear program and Washington`s promise not to invade the Kim Jung Il regime? Wishing a wise ruling would come out.

Contributed by Guest Editorial Writer, Attorney Park In-jae