Actions make the man
The English term “cardinal” originates from Latin “cardo” or “carde,” meaning the Senate. The cardo originally referred to the “hinge” or axis of a city, a principal component of a door alongside other devices for rotation, such as a jamb or a doorstop. Hence the cardinal in Catholicism exemplifies the significance of the office.
In Korean, cardinal is chugigyung. The first Chinese character chu refers to the jamb, which are the vertical posts that form the sides of a door frame where the hinges are mounted. At other times they form the sill, a horizontal beam underneath that supports the frame of a door. Thus the meaning of cardinal would be fully conveyed even if the letter chu was used only with gyung, a word meaning “office.” But gi is added to that. Gi means the shooting mechanism of a metal crossbow that extends the shooting distance of a normal bow. Therefore chugi refers to the heart of something. It is a combination of two words meaning the frame on which hinges rotate and the critical mechanism to shoot an arrow.
Chugi can also mean the speech and behavior of a person. A person’s words and actions are so critical that they can determine that person’s future. Without an effort to be righteous, a person’s words and behavior can bring disgrace instead of honor. A learned person should be prudent in choosing his words and deeds in order to be honorable to others, because words and deeds are what form his public persona.
A collective attempt to eat their previous words is going on among some members of the Uri Party. They are ready to leave the party, eschewing their words and deeds from a few years ago. They go against the principal virtue of chugi, which is used even for the translation of the sacred office of cardinal. Do we trust those who fail to honor their speech and actions? On the other hand, a door neither opens nor closes smoothly without a jamb and a hinge.
*The writer is the Beijing correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Yoo Kwang-jong [firstname.lastname@example.org]