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[Op-ed] Han Fei Zi and driver

Posted June. 20, 2014 05:47,   


"A monarch`s worries originate from trusting people. Trusting the wrong person, the monarch will be controlled by him. The relationship between sovereign and subject is not a tie bound by blood. Subjects serve the monarch just because they are pressed by the monarch`s power. A monarch should never be off his guard even for a moment because subjects will target him, watching for an opportunity." Han Fei Zi, an aristocrat in China`s Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods, wrote that the relationship between sovereign and subject and a leader and his men is like a struggle against each other to pursue their own respective desire. Han warned that a leader who is unaware that his men have changed their minds and believes that they remain loyal to him could be in jeopardy. He said that sovereign and subject are on a relationship of thoroughly calculating their own respective interest.

China`s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of a unified China in 221 B.C., took Han`s theory as the principle of his rule. Han is an apprentice of Xunzi, a Chinese Confucian philosopher who argued that "man`s nature is evil." Samgang Oryun (the three bonds and the five moral disciplines in human relations) philosophy of the ancient Joseon Dynasty of Korea emphasized that subjects must serve their king and that there must be a just cause between the king and his subjects. This philosophy viewed the sovereign-subject relationship as a destiny just the parent-son or husband-wife bonds. It quietly stresses people`s loyalty and fidelity toward the sovereign.

The driver of Park Sang-eun, a lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party, took a bag full of 30 million won (30,000 U.S. dollars) in cash to the prosecution, and reported that it was illegal political funds. High-profile bribery scandal almost always involves drivers. Graft scandals involved in their chauffeurs include Choi See-jung, former chairman of the Korea Communications Commission, Mirae Savings Bank Chairman Kim Chan-kyung, Sejoong Namo Tour Chairman Chun Shin-il, and former Saenuri Party lawmaker Hong Sa-duk. Drivers hear everything that their employers say in the back seat, as well as telephone conversations.

Park and his driver seem to have had different purposes in the car. Should we blame the driver for betraying his employer or praise him for serving justice? Should leaders be on guard against their men or try to be in such good relations with them in order to make them take everything to their graves? Before blaming it on the driver, the car owners should be well behaved.

Editorial Writer Choi Yeong-hae (yhchoi65@donga.com)