[FOUNTAIN]Wisdom seen in a piece of river stone

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[FOUNTAIN]Wisdom seen in a piece of river stone

The Grand National Party leader, Park Geun-hye, has a decorative stone in her living room, with a line engraving of a courteously bowing man. The stone was a present from the head of Bongjori village in Gokseong county, South Jeolla province. The village leader found the stone in the Namhan river.
The Grand National Party held a conclave of its National Assembly members in the village. They went to the Jeollas to try to improve their standing in the region, which has only given the party and its predecessors 2-3 percent of the vote in national elections. The party was welcomed warmly there, and the village head brought the stone to Ms. Park at her office.
According to Chun Yu-ok, the spokeswoman of the Grand National Party, the village head said at the meeting with Ms. Park that although he was a member of the Uri Party, he wanted to see good politics regardless of party affiliation. Koreans are losing their decorum, he said. “Just like the figure in the stone, you have to bend your head when you bow. Such etiquette it needed in the politics. I hope you can help civility take root in politics.”
Ms. Park promised that she would keep that advice in mind. Later she said that she treasured the stone and whenever she looked at it, she felt that the harsh reality would improve a little if politicians could be as humble as the man in the stone.
But the reality in politics is dismal. Politicians lack a civil mindset. In the last few days, the National Assembly has not had a day without tumult. The ruling and opposition lawmakers exchange the most vulgar words. The first-term lawmakers seem to be more talented than their seniors in insults. As the old saying goes, “The juniors can be fiercer.”
The prime minister is largely responsible for the National Assembly’s mess. His insulting comments about the opposition party completely ruined the atmosphere. Whether you are the prime minister or a representative, all politicians should know the basics of civility. Just as Ms. Park wrote on her Web site, it all begins with having a beautiful mindset. It is not easy to respect and care for others, but because politicians are the leaders, they should learn the etiquette. It’s the only way for politics and the citizens to survive. We all have to remember the meaning of Ms. Park’s beautiful stone.


by Lee Sang-il

The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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