[FOUNTAIN]Crew Waits for the Captain to Act

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[FOUNTAIN]Crew Waits for the Captain to Act

Even foreign news services appear to have caught up to the internal squabble and turmoil in the ruling Millennium Democratic Party.

The Saturday edition of the International Herald Tribune carried a wire report with the headline "Seoul Leader Confronts Party Revolt" on the mass resignation of the ruling party's 12-member Supreme Council.

Perhaps the conflict within the party is becoming large enough, and certainly beyond a mere "storm in the teacup." The development comes just days after the ruling party's defeat and the opposition Grand National Party's sweep in the by-elections. If the electoral defeat meant the party is about to run aground after wrecking on a rock, the resignations could be considered a revolt out in the middle of the sea.

No ship out in the ocean can be totally free of the risk of a wreck. The wrath of the ocean god Poseidon is often unexpected and can strike at any time. The degree of uncertainty in ocean voyaging and the magnitude of possible loss it entails were what led the owners of ships and cargo to get together in assuming shares of the risk, and that of course was the origin of the modern insurance system.

A ship can run into an unexpected obstacle or a storm and suffer damage, overturn or even sink. It can also experience mechanical breakdown and drift at sea, or be ransacked by pirates. In ocean shipping and maritime insurance, events that are acts of God, or "perils of the sea," are distinguished from human acts, which are "perils on the sea." From Homer's epic "Odyssey" to Herman Melville's "Moby Dick," works of literature set in the ocean describe heroic acts of man when faced with the seemingly insurmountable force of nature.

One desperate move that a ship's captain can take to save the vessel is jettison. By throwing cargo overboard, the vessel may reduce the load and it could pick up speed. The captain may swiftly and decisively choose to lose the cargo to save a vessel in the dire moment. To be picky about which of the cargo can and cannot go and to ponder about the value of the material goods could mean that everything will be lost. It would be critical at such moments for the captain to be capable of risk management by coolly shedding whatever is necessary.

The Millennium Democratic Party could now be at a crossroads presaging either shipwreck or a resumption of its voyage. Its leaders are reported to be mulling over the question of jettison. The guiding principle is to throw out whatever is heaviest. There probably is little time for hesitation. It will be interesting to see what this captain decides to do.

The writer is the international news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Bae Myung-bok

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