[FOUNTAIN]Dealing with foes with black hearts

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[FOUNTAIN]Dealing with foes with black hearts

Let’s say you run into a foe who you must defeat. What would your expression be? Glare fiercely? Ignore? Smile? Mao Zedong chose the last choice in January 1967 during the period of the Cultural Revolution when he countered Liu Shaoqi. At that time, Liu raised a white flag, saying he would return to his hometown after resigning from all of his official positions. Mao smiled and said, “Study sincerely and take care.” On hearing Mao’s concern Liu was relieved. However, the result was cruel. Two days later, his life ended miserably in a prison in the Henan district.
Before the Cultural Revolution, Mao studied “Houheixue” which is the “Thick Black Theory.” Hou means “thick face” in Chinese. In short, it means having a thick hide. Hei ―which means black in Chinese ― stands for black heart.
The “Thick Black Theory” was formed by scholar Li Zongwu (1879-1944) who was born at the end of Qing Dynasty. “Heaven enabled people to hide their impudence behind their faces. Also it enabled people to hide their wickedness deep inside their minds. It is a pity that foolish human beings do not use these abilities even though they bear it.”
Li Zongwu argued that “A great hero is no more than a person who is impudent and wicked.” According to Li, the wickedest of all is Cao Cao. “I would rather betray someone than be betrayed.” It shows how black Cao Cao’s heart was inside. Li picked Liu Bei as the highly-skilled person with a “thick face.” He never thought it shameful to live inside anothers’ fence. He was also a frequent crier, appealing to others sympathy. There is even a saying, “Liu Bei’s JiangShan was obtained through his crying.”
During the 1980s when the news that Mao had studied the Thick Black Theory started to spread, Li Zhongwu was in the spotlight again. In Beijing during 1990s, many books related to the Thick Black Theory were published.
Recently, scandals related to various development projects have erupted. New people are linked with the scandals everyday. Their arguments are all very different and confusing. Would it be cruel to suggest two words: “Thick and Black”?


by You Sang-cheol

The writer is a deputy international news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.
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