“Bears are more powerful than tigers several times but only succumb to such nimble competitors because they are complete imbeciles,” writes scholar Seong Dae-jung in the late Joseon Dynasty era in his book titled “Cheongseongjapgi.” To sum up the rest part of this anecdote, bears are powerful enough to break and swing a branch effortlessly but soon to be exhausted and killed by tigers which nimbly dodge from any strike to the end. The author emphasizes at the rear part of the writing that it is the power of bears that leads them to death, ironically. It is a lesson learned that speed and smartness are a greater key to gaining the upper hand than power and tactlessness. In some cases, endless efforts alone cannot make any difference in making things right. There is only a slim chance of nimble tigers being beaten up to death by bears with naïve grits.
The year of Imin 2022, which symbolizes the black tiger, has just begun. A series of tiger-themed exhibitions opens one after another while marketers highlight tigers to capture public attention just as in the example of the Korea Mint Corporation’s celebratory note with a tiger engraved on the surface. History testimonies how tigers mean more than just one of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs in Korea. Tigers have always had a special place in the hearts of the Korean people from a character in the myth of Dangun through the Hodori of the 1988 Olympic Games to the Soohorang of the 2018 Winter Olympics. They have been the symbol as well as the mascot of the Korean people at all times.
The Korean expression “pali pali,” which means “quickly” or “fast” is one of the most well-known sarcastic terms about the Korean people who have an impatiently quick-tempered quality. However, such a nimble and hot-tempered mindset has given them the strength to survive the fast-changing paradigms of the current time. For example, drive-through screening centers show a great example of how the Korean motto of “pali pali” works out. If just a pinch of cleverness is added to this speed-oriented approach, it can turn Koreans into nimble tigers. What will we need to make it through an endlessly dark tunnel of the COVID-19 pandemic and put an end to irregularities capitalized on by those who only act forcefully and stupidly just like bears do? The answer is speed accelerated by cleverness.