[FOUNTAIN]Flattery's sweet musicAt the end of December, when domestic newspapers reviewed memorable words spoken in 2001, no newspaper missed this servile remark made by a lawmaker: "Without exception, I will render my devotion to the president as a salmon swims back to his birthplace." What Ahn Dong-su, who served as justice minister for only 43 hours, said when he was appointed minister, about "The glory of family" and "Thanks for royal favors," were also too funny for newspapers to miss.
Flattery is a sort of talent and ability. There are people who get too sick to say an oily word, even though they may want to apple-polish. On the other hand, there are people whose flattery skills have reached the stage of mastery, making others wonder.
Flattery begins with servile words. In the Tang Dynasty of China, an emperor, Tai Tsung, for fun ordered a court musician to put his head into water during a party. When he took his head out of the water after a while, the musician showed a satisfied look. Tai Tsung asked why he looked pleased and the musician answered, "I just met Qu Yuan, the great Chu Dynasty poet, in the water. He said, 'I drowned myself in the Mi-lo River because I attended a stupid king. But why have you come here? You have a good and wise emperor.' "
In the Song Dynasty, an emperor, Wen Ti, was fishing with rod and line. During an entire day he could not catch even a minnow. Then a subject said, "Because the person who drops the line is so honest, fish dare not covet the bait."
A few days ago, Han Kwang-ok, the chairman of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party, presided over a meeting that decided on the schedule for nominating the party's presidential candidate. The meeting progressed without friction. A ruling-party official admired Mr. Han's political ability, saying, "Chairman Han has become a living Buddha."
When Prosecutor General Shin Seung-nam visited Daejeon, the Daejeon District Prosecutors Office asked the police to escort Mr. Shin's car and questioned the guests who were scheduled to come to a dinner party with Mr. Shin about their circumstances in detail, repelling them. The office asked the mayor of Daejeon city, the police agency head and other important people about their hobbies, family members and the recent events in their families, so that "the prosecutor general could have a smooth conversation with the guests."
Those officials' behavior to flatter their boss shows an ugly slice of the "royal leadership," which is currently the focus of criticism.
The writer is a deputy international news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Noh Jae-hyun