[FOUNTAIN]The final round

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[FOUNTAIN]The final round

Oh Il-ryong was a well-known television commentator in the 1970s and '80s when professional boxing was watched by many. His narration, which he always began with "Do you know why?" in a calm, clear voice, went right to the point and thus became extremely popular.

Mr. Oh often used the familiar expression, "A drizzling rain wets clothes," which means that a repetition of things, though trivial, can lead to undeniable consequences. He often mentioned this when boxers were slowly collapsing after being pummeled by a series of punches. More often, he said, "There is a long way to go, as the sun is setting." He used this line whenever there was very little chance for a Korean boxer to win and the fight was coming to an end.

The saying "There is a long way to go, as the sun is setting" originated from the biography of Wuzishi, in "Shih Chi," a Chinese history book. Wuzishi, who lived in China during the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.), fled when his father and brother were killed during King Ping's reign. Later, Wuzishi occupied the capital city of Chi, helped by King Helu, and took revenge on King Ping by digging up the King's tomb and caning his remains 300 times. When an old friend of Wuzishi told him that he was too filled with revenge, despite the fact that King Ping had once been his boss, Wuzishi came up with the memorable expression. He was being ironic, for he said that there was a long way to go even though the sun was about to set. When this proverb is used positively, it means that even if one is getting old, there is still much to do. Too often these days it indicates urgency.

President Kim Dae-jung, nearing the end of his five-year term, has made people think of this expression. Surely Mr. Kim must have thought of the words himself when he held his New Year's press conference a few days ago. During his tenure, there has been little done correctly and there is still lots to do though not much time remains. A series of scandals, all of which involve close aides of his, arrived one after another.

He must have felt dispirited, knowing, of course, that he is a lame duck president. People even worried about Mr. Kim's health as they watched the president, who seems physically and emotionally exhausted, like a boxer going into his final round.

Although there is a long way to go and the sun is about to set, Mr. Kim should not finish national affairs as if he is entering the 12th round of a boxing match. Even now there are still things for him to do, things he is capable of doing.

The writer is a Berlin correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Yoo Jae-sik

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