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[Opinion] The Irony of Fate

Posted December. 12, 2008 17:22,   


Two years ago, a boxer’s irony of fate created a sensation in Japan. Bald boxer Masayuki Koguchi worked for a company by day and trained at night. He found himself in a pretty hairy situation in a fight after his opponent knocked Koguchi’s wig off. The scene was broadcast live on TV. Not only was Koguchi disgraced in public, but he was also fired from his company for holding a second job.

A setback can sometimes be a blessing in disguise. Wig and hair restoration companies offered Koguchi advertising opportunities. Since he no longer had his day job, he could fully commit himself to boxing, and rose to 12th last year in Japan’s super featherweight rankings. Consistent use of the restoration treatment he advertised brought the “wig boxer’s” hair back. Mimicking the hairstyle of Korean actor Bae Yong-jun in the drama of King Gwanggaeto the Great of Korea’s Goguryeo Dynasty, Koguchi in July posted his 11th straight victory. The boxer’s secret of success was his dedication to boxing without losing his sense of humor and composure amid crisis.

Japanese author Shusaku Endo, who was famous for religious novels such as “Deep River” and “Silence,” once said that when misfortune happens, one should learn something from it. A young man asked Endo how he could change his dull and boring speech that made him unwelcome in his surroundings. The author said, “If you are not good at speaking about yourself, then you might reverse the situation by listening to others.” Later the young man visited Endo to thank him for his advice, which helped the man to get along with his coworkers. A person can win the hearts and minds of others simply by listening, rather than speaking.

Franklin Balya of the Philippines used to work at a parts factory but became a bank teller at the Manila branch of Korea Exchange Bank. Lee Seo-won also worked his way up from a part-timer at Hana Bank of Korea to a department head. “Even if your status is low, showing your sincerity and a friendly heart to others can win over all customers and coworkers to your side.” The secret of changing one’s life in one stroke does not lie within the lottery, but from the thought that risk and opportunity are the flip sides of the same coin, and that risk can be changed into opportunity. Endo said, “Nothing is meaningless in life. If we have the power to think that we can find a possibility even amid frustration, failure and disease, any loss from the past could be turned into a benefit.”

Editorial Writer Huh Mun-myeong (angelhuh@donga.com)