[FORUM]No extra starting points in life

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[FORUM]No extra starting points in life

Compared to the game of baduk, or Japanese go, life is a very unfair game. There are no handicap points given to a weaker side in life.
Whether you have the first rank or the eighteenth rank or have a professional-level capability in managing your life, whether you have a doctorate degree from Harvard University and come from a well-to-do family or have never been to college and live poorly in the countryside, everybody has to play a scratch game.
If we put it in baduk terminology, “People in the whole world play a scratch game against each other.” In baduk, a high-ranking player usually gives handicap points to a lower ranker when it is not an official competition. In a high-stakes game, if one side cheats with a handicap to make money, that person can be prosecuted for fraud.
However, you do not have to worry about giving handicap points to others in life. Even if a foreign financial company, a high-ranking player in the money game, takes a huge amount of profit by taking advantage of the financial crisis of 1997-98, nobody thinks of it as a fraud.
In that respect, I imagine that the expert players might think that globalization provides them with a great chance. If the arena of scratch play is expanded to the whole world, countless high-handicappers will line up before them.
In the perspective of baduk, the game of life is an especially unfair game in which the weaker player has to give handicap points to the stronger player.
Grass-roots people give handicap points to Assembly representatives; small companies give handicaps to big corporations and domestic companies must give handicaps to foreign companies.
There are two opposite axes called “power” and “profit” in baduk. Comparatively speaking, power consists of an educational background, financial capability or family background that can be of use later on, and profit is cash that is right in front of you.
There are people who start off their lives with a lot of power and profit from the start, but there are also people who start with nothing or with disadvantages. Strong people become even more powerful with the help of the law, systems and connections, while weaker people grow even weaker. The gap in strength becomes endlessly wider. If it is a baduk game, the weaker cannot win against the stronger one, even if the person is given nine handicap points to start with. In television dramas, we often see people belonging to both extremes dueling each other. Sometimes the weaker person dramatically comes from behind and wins. The drama makes people believe that the Cinderella illusion can be materialized.
In reality, however, the weaker cannot win against the stronger. It is as apparent as a rabbit that cannot win against a lion. Therefore, whether it is in baduk or life, there is no cleverer way than to stay away from lions and play only with rabbits. Some people talk about luck, but if a casual neighborhood baduk player plays a scratch game against Cho Hun-hyeon, a master baduk player with the highest rank of nine dan, what good will his great luck do him?
However, there is no fun if the gap between the players’ skill is too big. If there is more than a three point difference, the game becomes as easy as twisting a little child’s wrist for the stronger player. It will be like using violence against an opponent who cannot resist one-sidedly. This is the same as in life. No matter how hard one tries, if a low-ranking person cannot get over a certain limit, life will be bleak. Also, beating these weak people without much effort is nothing to brag about; rather, we feel it is a shameful act.
In the game of life, we are destined to face unfairness. However, I think that it would be interesting if there were unwritten laws in the unfair game of life too. Here are some of the points I came up with for fun.
― In principle, one should challenge only those who have the same handicap.
― It is reckless to play a scratch game against a stronger player whose handicap is two points lower than you.
― It is honorable to challenge a stronger player whose handicap is one point lower than you.
― Winning against high handicap players, by not giving them proper handicap points, is as easy as twisting the arm of a child and should be considered a shame to one’s family.
The fourth rule is the most important. I want to tell this rule to the successful members of our society who are the products of the dark side of life.

* The writer is a staff writer on baduk at the JoongAng Ilbo.


by Park Chi-moon

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