[FOUNTAIN]Frank insight will endure

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[FOUNTAIN]Frank insight will endure

Lee Kuan-yew, former prime minister of Singapore, published his memoirs four years ago and said that he tried to make it as detailed and clear as possible, as if he were being questioned by a trial judge. The book generated much attention because he strictly excludes vague expressions and uses plain and precise language. Mr. Lee emphasizes diligent and efficient government in his memoirs and also cites the seriousness of labor problems in Korea in a separate chapter on Korea.

Mr. Lee said a leader must be fair toward the successful and the unsuccessful, the educated and the uneducated, and businessmen and laborers to retain people's trust. The ruling party and the opposition party leaders in Korea occasionally refer to his advice because Mr. Lee scrutinizes Korea from the rational point of view of a third party.

The memoirs of Jack Welch, former chief executive of General Electric, is a global best-seller, written in an honest, frank and straightforward way. Mr. Welch says in the prologue that he was exceptionally honest and candid; he gave priority to morals in writing his memoirs.

Winston Churchill's five-volume memoirs on his life during World War II won the Nobel prize for literature because of the integrity embedded throughout the book. Mr. Churchill checked his facts with various documents and referred to history books. His writing skills were also highly lauded. Readers are introduced to his insights. I am curious how the memoirs of former President Bill Clinton will turn out.

In Korea, the memoirs of politicians are briefly mentioned or become sources of political gossip in newspapers, but they have failed to touch the public. The memoirs of a senior politician caused a controversy over the facts of the content, and its emotional narration resulted in shameful clashes.

As the current administration nears the end of its term, six major figures among economic policymakers are said to be competitively preparing their memoirs. Politicians of past administrations are also turning out their personal experiences.

But only when more books critical of memoirs that idealize the facts are published will this tendency disappear. One such book, "Stories I Want To Leave Behind," written by Kim In-ho, and published in the JoongAng Ilbo in a series, is a retrospective journal by the former Blue House chief economic adviser that has won the trust of readers with its reliance on objective data. This type of memoirs will never be found in the waste bin.

The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Choi Chul-joo

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