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[Opinion] Steward

Posted October. 17, 2003 22:56,   


Choi Do-sul, President Roh’s former 20-year close aide, was arrested for receiving a large amount of money right after presidential election. In the political arena he is called “President Roh’s steward.” This may mean that he is close enough to Roh to talk about his private dealings or events happening among his family. While the staff deals with public works, a steward deals with private ones. In the time of non-military government and the people’s government, Hong In-gil, the president’s former top aide, who was arrested for being involved in Han-bo scandal, and Lee Su-dong, the executive secretary of Atae Foundation permanent committee who was arrested for being involved in Lee Yong-ho gate, are called “steward of Sang-do dong” and “steward of Dong-gyo dong” respectively. Namely, it is an “era of steward’s ordeal” throughout three generations.

In Korean dictionaries, a “steward” is defined as a person who is employed by someone to take care of his house or a position of service in the Protestant church. In English, the former refers to a butler or steward and the latter to a deacon. The origin of steward came from the Acts of Apostles in the Bible. As the beginning church grew larger, many of the poor and widows came, and Jesus’ 12 disciples appointed seven workers to help them. Paul stresses in Timothy that deacons are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much alcohol, and not pursuing dishonest gain.

The beginning church had many good models of stewards. Stephen, the first martyr who died crying for mercy as the people stoned him, Philip, a remarkable missionary, Phoebe, a female steward who was passionate in relief work, and many more others. However, they didn’t expect any rewards for their service which followed the teachings of the Bible. Jimmy Carter, the U.S. ex-president who is respected for his life of faith and service, is also a deacon in a Baptist church. During his reappointment period, his bodyguards code named him “deacon.”

The Korean Presbyterian churches distinguish between two kinds of deacons. One is a life-long deacon and another is a short-term one which is appointed annually. Some people may know how hard it is to be faithful to a deacon’s duties. Those who are appointed as deacon cannot smoke or drink without a pang of conscience. It is against the deacon’s duties to ask money from rich members of the church or to pay his own department with public money from the church. Therefore, many good model deacons in the Korean church, who are of devotion, have recently been insulted because of the “deacon of president” term referring to Choi. Shouldn’t they protest against him?

Oh Myung-chul, Editorial Writer, oscar@donga.com