All-in is a gambling term meaning betting all there is. This term became popular due to a certain television drama titled All-in. The word brings to mind Sting, the Hollywood movie that became a hit when it came out 30 years ago. In this movie starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, the two heroes bring big-scale villains into the gambling arena and brilliantly manage to fool them. This movie effectively portrayed the psychology of extreme all-in.
The all-in mind is not only exhibited in gambling. It often comes out in affairs regarding the fate of individuals and nations as well. Fighting with ones back to the water (背水陣), a strategy used by Chinas Han Dynastys great general Han Hsin in the battle against the Zhou Dynasty, and Destroying the cooking utensils and sinking the ships (破釜沈舟), a strategy used by Hsiang-yu in his fight against the Qin Dynasty, are all based on the all-in mind; putting their lives in stakes to win their battles. There are also examples of such in Korea, as in the case of General Shin Lip, who killed himself after losing his last battle during the Japanese invasion, and Admiral Lee Soon-shin, who won the war with a You will die if determined to live, and you will live if determined to die (必生則死 必死則生) mind.
President Roh Moo-hyun has declared an economical all-in. The President, who had until now refused to face the reality of the economic slump that has spread to the very bottom of society, has realized its seriousness at last and is seeking solutions. Public opinion is mostly welcoming this attitude. This is probably the first generous judgment made to the President since the applause he received when he visited the Korean troops dispatched to Iraq during an overseas trip.
President George W. Bush declared an all-in for liberty at his inauguration. This is an extreme strategy targeting the tyrannical governments of the world. However, an all-in is more valuable the less it is used. It should only happen once in a lifetime, or once in an administration. I hope the Korean government would not say it would all-in on something like a North-South summit.
Hyun In-taek, Guest Editorial Writer, Professor at Korea University, Political Science