[FOUNTAIN]Listening and intelligence

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[FOUNTAIN]Listening and intelligence

The ability to listen is always important.

To accomplish what you have in mind faster, more accurately and more timely than others, you must listen more than talk, and listen correctly.

Even in foreign language examinations, the ability to listen and comprehend is the key to success.

So not only individuals, but also corporations and even governments, make efforts to improve their listening skills.

New students at school are told they should listen courteously. Intelligence agencies say their wiretapping skills are key to a national intelligence capacity.

Politicians say they are all ears to public opinion; administrators set up various systems through which they can understand what the people think.

But if you use your listening ability in the wrong way, it could invite harm. Legal and illegal wiretapping stirs controversy when discovered; wiretappers are condemned. Illegal wiretapping is literally a theft of conversation.

But when it comes to a national intelligence war, how well you can listen is key. The United States, engaged in a military campaign in Afghanistan, mobilized various state-of-the-art techniques to eavesdrop on what was going on in the country. How effective they were we will never know, but judging by Washington's ceaseless efforts to launch spy satellites, it must be productive.

When an unidentified ship appeared in the Sea of China late last year, Japan had an opportunity to boast of its wiretapping skills.

By releasing information that would only be available if Tokyo could hear what the North Korean Workers Party was up to, Japan showed that its intelligence level is at the top in Northeast Asia. For a matter like this, how well you can listen becomes the yardstick in measuring a country's strength.

In this digital age, technology is advancing. A combination of satellites, lasers, and computer devices will allow users to hear most of what they want to hear, experts say.

The Sept. 11 terror attacks took place in this era of technology and created a situation where too much stress is put on the importance of technological effectiveness in wiretapping. But there are few voices that worry about infringements of human rights.

Presidential and local elections will be held this year. Every candidate claims that he or she is the only one who can hear and act correctly on what the people want. It is our duty to listen to what they are saying and judge whether they are the right person.

The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kim Seok-hwan

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