Revenge or reconciliation

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Revenge or reconciliation


Guan Zhong is known as the best prime minister of the Spring and Autumn Period in China’s history. The state of Qi used to be a tiny country in what is now Shandong Province, but with Guan’s reforms, Duke Huan of Qi became the strongest of the five lords. Confucius said Duke Huan would not have been able to command his lordship without Guan’s courageous service. However, Lord Hua nearly killed Guan.
Also well known is an anecdote about the loyal friendship between Guan Zhong and Bao Shuya, called guan-bao-zhi-jiao in the Chinese idiom, Guan was appointed as the premier of Duke Huan due to Bao Shuya’s recommendation.
Duke Xi of Qi had three sons, Zhu’er, Jiu and Xiaobai. Guan Zhong taught Jiu and Bao Shuya taught Xiaobai. When the eldest son, Zhu’er, ascended the throne and became the Duke Xiang, he became a cruel ruler who oppressed the people and abandoned his lordly duties.
His two brothers, Jiu and Xiaobai, respectively fled to the state of Lu and the state of Cao, where each of their mothers’ families lived.
When the lordship of Qi became vacant as a result of political upheaval, the two competed to arrive first in Qi.
Guan Zhong called on Xiaobai and asked him to come later than his elder brother Jiu, only to be refused by Xiaobai.
Leaving him, Guan turned around and shot an arrow to kill Xiaobai. sThe arrow hit his belt ornament, but Xiaobai pretended to be dead. Thus Xiaobai was able to reach Qi before his elder brother and take the throne as the Duke Huan.
Duke Huan killed his brother who arrived later. Bao Shuya, the teacher of Duke Huan, begged him not to kill Guan Zhong, however. Bao said, “If Your Lordship wills to rule only the state of Qi, I shall be enough for your service; but if you want to become the first lord of the entire world, none but Guan Zhong shall be able to serve your leadership.”
Bao added, “Pray you do not mind the shot that hit the unnecessary ornament.” Due to Bao’s sincere request, Duke Huan hired Guan as his premier. The duke became the hegemon of the period.
The Grand National Party will have a party primary for the presidential election in two days. Instead of pulling people inward, the party primary is likely to push supporters away because of all the emotional residue that has built up during the campaign. It depends on the winner’s decision whether to kill Guan Zhong who shot the arrow, and thereby satisfy the angry feelings, or embrace the rival and pursue hegemony together.

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

By Kim Jin-kook []
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