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[Opinion] Brothers

Posted July. 23, 2005 03:11,   


Brothers have a strange relationship. When they make much of and are a strength to each other, they produce a laudable anecdote like “the brothers were brave.” Meanwhile, if they are estranged because of a feud over power or money, their mutual enmity is stronger than the enmity between others.

The son of Cao Cao of the Wei dynasty in ancient China, Cao Pi, hated his brother, Cao Zhi, so he harassed him. Being envious of Cao Zhi’s talents, the elder brother ordered him to compose a poem within seven footsteps. A poem was thus made upon the occasion in which disobedience meant death. It is the famous “seven step poem” which goes: “Frying beans with bean stalks as fuel. Beans weep sadly in the pan. From the same root we both grew. Why is the hurry in the grill? “

There is another example in which Bang-won, a son of the Joseon Dynasty’s progenitor Yi Seong-gye, brought about a bloody “war of princes.” When his younger half-brother was decided as his father’s successor, he pulled out his sword. He killed senior statesmen and his younger brothers Bang-suk and Bang-bun. Unable to swallow his anger, Bang-won’s father abandoned himself to Hamheung. Every single “envoy of apology” sent by Bang-won was killed, and thus they were later called “envoys of no return.”

The greatest mutiny in ancient Japanese history is also a feud over sovereignty between brothers. When Emperor Tenji intended to abdicate his throne to his eldest son, his younger son Oama mobilized soldiers and became Emperor Tenmu. After Minamoto Yoritomo, who is well known for opening the samurai politics of the 12th century, joined hands with his younger brother Yoshitsune and swept his political enemies, he ruthlessly trampled on his brother and killed him.

The following proverb of the Bible hints at the relationship of brothers 2,000 years ago: “It is more difficult for brothers to get along amicably after having a fight than winning a castle. The enmity cannot be bent just as it is hard to unbolt the gate of a castle.” The reckless conflict displayed by Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-young’s sons during his last years was also called the “war of the princes.” Nowadays, the fight among the Doosan Group’s brothers is getting hot. Park Yong-oh, who was ousted from the chairmanship, wrote a letter to the prosecution about his younger brother and newly appointed chairman Park Yong-sung’s slush funds. Subsequently, honorary chairman Park Yong-gon and other brothers decided to oust Park Yong-oh from the group. The feud among brothers within the Doosan Group, which was an object of envy for brining up its children successfully, makes us feel the futility of brothers.

Kim Choong-sik, Editorial Writer, skim@donga.com