[FOUNTAIN]The consequences of a drinking partyThis is a story of when poet Byun Young-ro (1897-1961) was young. One day while he was compiling the Korean Dictionary at the Gyemyeong Club in Seoul, Kim Seong-su, a nationalist entrepreneur, visited. The Gyemyeong Club was organized to campaign for enlightenment in 1918. Mr. Kim wanted to have a drink, and the two went for a drink with another friend, Kim Chan-yeong, a lawyer.
While they were emptying their glasses, Mr. Byun suddenly threw beer at Kim Seong-su. The poet, who was fond of drinking, was already drunk. Although Mr. Kim knew his friend was drunk, he yelled at him, “Hey, beat me up if you want to or curse me if you want to, why throw beer at me?”
Mr. Byun, saying, “What’s the big deal,” threw another glass of beer at his friend. Mr. Kim exploded. He grabbed a beer bottle and hit Mr. Byun on his forehead unsparingly. Mr. Byun responded by throwing a brass chafing dish. Fortunately, it missed his friend. A big fight between the two friends was about to begin. At that moment, Mr. Kim’s behavior totally changed. When he saw the blood trickling down the forehead of his friend he hugged his friend and cried. He said, “How could I make you bleed, how could this happen?”
At these words, Mr. Byun realized what he had done. He apologized to Mr. Kim. The friends drank heavily that night, with Mr. Byun wearing bandages on his head. The gathering could have been a disaster, but with Mr. Kim’s patience it was an opportunity to deepen their friendship.
During the inspection into the administration by the National Assembly, some lawmakers and prosecutors gathered for a drinking party. Later, it was revealed that sexually humiliating remarks were made to a female bar owner.
Now, if the fact that legislators were having a drinking party with the prosecutors whom they are supposed to monitor was not enough, they misbehaved. The prosecutor who admitted making harsh remarks regretted going to the party. The legislator who initially was accused in the incident might be letting out a sigh of relief since the truth was revealed. But since he said some inappropriate words, he does not have the right to argue that he was falsely accused.
There is dignity even in drunkenness. If the prosecutors and legislators had behaved like Mr. Kim there would have been no problem. Even if someone misbehaves when they are drunk, it would not matter if the person has the personality to handle it well. However, improving one’s mind is not an easy task. Therefore, it is better to avoid heavy drinking. English poet George Herbert said that once alcohol gets inside, wisdom goes out.
by Lee Sang-il
The writer is a deputy international news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.