[FOUNTAIN]Pursue ‘pingfan’ in politicsYoung widow Dou E lived with her mother-in-law, Mistress Cai. When a local gangster named Zhang Lur asked Dou E to marry him, she refused. Zhang attempted to murder Mistress Cai but ended up killing his own father instead. He then bribed officials and accused Dou E of the murder. Before her execution, Dou E made three wishes, for blood to burst and splash on a white silk flag, for snow in the midst of June and that there be three years of extreme drought. People were frightened when her curses actually occurred. The ghost of Dou E appealed her innocence to her father, who later returned as a government official. Finally, her father put Zhang to justice and proved his daughter’s innocence.
Guan Hanqing’s “Dou E Yuan” is one of the best known plays from the Yuan Dynasty. Chinese enthuse over “Liu Yue Xue,” or “Snow in June,” a Beijing opera based on “Dou E Yuan.” The Chinese feel catharsis at resolving injustice. In China, people call the job of bringing light to shadow and righting wrongs “pingfan.” Former secretary general of the Chinese Communist Party Hu Yaobang is often named as a master of “pingfan.”
“So many innocent people were wrongfully accused and killed during the Cultural Revolution. Only about 5 percent of the victims were actually guilty,” said Mr. Hu as he aggressively pursued “pingfan” after becoming a member of the Politburo in 1978. He rehabilitated nearly 3 million people.
Today, China is attempting “pingfan” on Mr. Hu himself. Sixteen years after his death, the Communist Party is holding its first event in memory of Mr. Hu, on the 90th anniversary of his birth on November 20. Mr. Hu, who became Secretary General in 1982, pursued political reform as well as economic. He fell from power in 1987, when the leftists accused him of the fault of bourgeois liberalization. When Mr. Hu passed away in 1989, people gathered in Tiananmen Square to honor his memory, and the assembly developed into the June 4 Tiananmen Square protest. His name has been taboo ever since in China.
The reform and opening of China was made possible because Mr. Hu resolved the resentment from the era of Chairman Mao Zedong with “pingfan.” That’s why some believe Chinese president Hu Jintao set off the “pingfan” of Mr. Hu in order to make another such leap. “Pingfan” is more a fulfillment of long-cherished desires than a venting of anger and grudges. “Pingfan” has a constructive effect.
In contrast, Korean politicians are more focused on venting their anger than realizing their wishes. It is regrettable that they are accumulating ever more grudges and resentments.
by You Sang-chul
The writer is the Asia news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.