A Fox in a Tiger's Skin

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A Fox in a Tiger's Skin

Yan-Tzu was a famous politician during the Zhou dynasty of ancient China. He served three kings and once was appointed prime minister. His followers, including his coachman, naturally became very proud of their master.

One day, the wife of the coachman saw the prime minister as he traveled in his carriage. The coachman was sitting in front, arrogantly flicking the four horses with a whip. When he returned home that night, his wife asked for a divorce.

"Although your master is prime minister, he is always polite to everybody and never acts in a lordly manner," the coachman''s wife said. "However, you are extremely insolent, although you are only a coachman serving the prime minister. I cannot trust my future to a person like you, so I would rather leave this house."

The husband awakened to his mistakes and became humble and modest. When the prime minister asked the coachman why his attitude had changed so completely, he repeated his wife''s comments. The prime minister was delighted that the coachman had overcome his bad habits, and recommended him for promotion.

Should we say that it is human nature to act arrogantly through borrowed authority? Chuang-Tzu, a famous ancient Chinese philosopher, once deplored the fact that people become haughty when appointed only as minor government officials. These arrogant people, then, would dance in their carriages when they became senior government officials. They would become more arrogant they became ministers.

This is not simply a story from an ancient time in a faraway land. An exhibition celebrating a half-century of Kobawu - the famous cartoon character - has just been held at the Sejong Center for Performing Arts in Seoul.

A four-frame cartoon strip drawn by Kim Song-hwan in 1958 caught our eye. It was full of pithy sarcasm, showing cleaners bowing deeply to a sweeper working in a bathroom of the presidential residence.

Recently, a cleaner at the Blue House has been investigated on a charge of accepting hundreds of millions of won from Chung Hyun-joon, president of Korea Digital Line. Since 1990s, 136 people have been arrested for assuming the names of relatives of presidents as well as falsely claiming relationships with the Blue House. This time, the charge is against an actual employee there.

There is an old saying that a fox can act arrogantly in a tiger''s skin - borrowed authority. It is time to realize that the tiger is not the power coming from the borrowed authority of senior officers. Rather, the real tiger is the people. Be careful of the people, because they can be as fierce as tigers.

by Noh Jae-hyun

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