[FOUNTAIN]A man who knows the wisdom of unityChina’s Warring States period, from 453 to 221 B.C., was characterized by shifting alliances and the law of the jungle. The seven states repeatedly clashed and made peace, and eventually formed the basis of the Eastern political order.
The statesman Suqin lived during this time. This skilled diplomat allied six of the states against the powerful and greedy seventh. The alliance was called hezong, meaning a vertical alliance, since the states were aligned vertically from north to south. The word “hezonglianheng” that we frequently hear in politics dates from this time. Suqin, who created a confederation that once would have been impossible to even think about, became the prime minister of the allied states consecutively, serving the six kings.
Suqin was successful because he looked beyond the borders of the kingdoms and considered China as one. And his communications technique, central to which was his ability to bring the common interest to light, was also crucial.
Goh Kun, the Korean statesman, gave copies of “Dongju Yeolgukji,” a 12-volume, thousand-year history of China, to acquaintances as presents. Of the book’s several hundred characters, Mr. Goh has the most in common with Suqin.
Mr. Goh is a rare politician who has worked for six presidents. Each believed his inauguration marked the start of a new era. Without exception, they shaped their parties and their administrations to their tastes. It was habitual for them to criticize their predecessors; the gulf between the democratically elected presidents and their predecessors was especially deep. For these reasons, acrimony and discontinuity became normal in politics.
Throughout, Goh Kun pursued the value of unification, trying to bring out the merits of each government. Mr. Goh is becoming the most prominent figure in “hezonglianheng” politics. His advantage is his ability to unify discordant powers, which depends on being able to establish a single common foe. Currently, that common foe would seem to be a social phenomenon, rather than some personal enemy. The threat is social stagnation, with every interest stubbornly insisting on its own way. I hope Mr. Goh’s rare experience can play a part in breaking this stagnation.
by Chun Young-gi
The writer is a deputy political news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.