[Viewpoint]Elections are for recognizing leaders

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[Viewpoint]Elections are for recognizing leaders

There is no doubt that Admiral Yi Sun-shin was the embodiment of a patriot who saved the nation 400 years ago.
If it were not for him, the Joseon dynasty could not have survived multiple Japanese invasions of Korea from 1592-1598.
However, Yi Sun-shin would have ended up as a nameless civil servant in a small town in North Jeolla province, were it not for Ryu Seong-ryeong, who recognized Yi’s talents and recommended him to a higher post.
About 50 years after the death of Admiral Yi, Yi Su-gwang, a Joseon dynasty scholar, wrote in his book “Jibongyuseol” the following: “As Yi Sun-shin was a military officer, his name was in obscurity and there was no one who appreciated his talents. In 1591, however, the renowned scholar Ryu Seong-ryong, who became a courtier later, recommended him to be promoted, skipping over bureaucratic hierarchy, from the magistrate of Jeongup to admiral in charge of the naval base in Jeolla province. Thus, he became the heroic military leader who eventually saved the nation. Why couldn’t there be talented persons like Yi Sun-shin nowadays? The problem is that there is no one who can recognize a man of ability and recommend him to a responsible position.”
Yi Su-gwang was right.
It’s not that we don’t have talented persons now, but what we don’t seem to have are sharp eyes to recognize such persons.
One is reminded of an old adage: Even a swift horse that can run a thousand miles a day would end its life without getting recognition, were it not for Baekrak, a horse trainer legendary for recognizing fine horses.
Were it not for the powerful warlord Liu Bei, who visited Zhuge Liang three times at his home to convince him to become his advisor, the master strategist Zhuge Liang could have ended up as a mere scholar leading a quiet life in the countryside, farming his land in obscurity.
Because Liu Bei pursued Zhuge Liang, who was leading a quiet life in the countryside, and appointed him prime minister 1,800 years ago, his kingdom, Shu Han, could rise up from a small peripheral power in a remote area, to become one of the Three Kingdoms of China, ruling one-third of the vast mainland.
Ultimately, personnel management is the most important of all state affairs and talented people are the nation’s valuable human resources.
The outcome of things depends on the people who handle them, so there is nothing more valuable than human resources.
Therefore, to cope with a crisis and promote a new plan to rebuild the nation, we must develop sharp eyes with which we can spot talented people.
After all, having a keen eye for recognizing competent people is the key to the success of an enterprise.
If we don’t have the capacity to recognize talented people, we can hardly expect to solve problems easily.
Jo Ji-hun, a respected poet, wrote in the 1960s about looking forward to a talented leader with the following qualities:
“The leader we look forward to must be a man of common sense. He is a person who sets an example to others by living up to his words; who is a man of integrity but has the ability to eradicate corruption among his subordinates; and who can sacrifice his life for the cause of the nation without clinging to his future as a politician.”
He is right. Even though he wrote this in April 1961, almost half a century ago, doesn’t it reflect our own wishes today?
Now, the by-elections are over and the presidential election on which the future of Korea depends is only eight months away.
However, we still don’t have a candidate who gives us a feeling that “This is the right person!”
This is because we do not have keen eyes for recognizing talent.
Who will be the Admiral Yi Sun-shin who will save Korea today and who will be our new Ryu Seong-ryong who will recognize his qualities?
This is a task that should be tackled by us all.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Chung Jin-hong
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