[Outlook]Thoughts on initialsA bar code that decides one’s ultimate fate seems to hide behind the initials of our political leaders.
It is customary in South Korea for the media to call national figures by their initials.
YS, former President Kim Young-sam, was a “young statesman.” He was born in December 1928, according to the lunar calendar. He was the youngest lawmaker in Korea at 25. He also supported the need for a political leader who should be at least in his forties.
DJ, former President Kim Dae-jung, symbolized the “Democratization Jungle.”
In other words, he devoted his life to fighting in the jungle of democratization. “Jungle,” rather than “journey,” is a more appropriate word since he strived to build a more democratic society.
The initials for President Lee Myung-bak, MB, possess a variety of bar codes. While he worked for Hyundai Construction, MB was a “mobile bulldozer.”
He drove ahead with his life at Hyundai while he was in highway construction in Thailand, at the industrial port of Jubeil, Saudi Arabia, and in many construction sites in Korea, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.
In 1977, he became a 36-year-old corporate president, 12 years after he joined Hyundai.
He bulldozed his way forward and led a highly successful career. Many others have worked for much longer at companies but have not achieved as much as Lee.
MB also has the symbolic meaning of “Metro Businessman.” His initials might suggest that he was destined to serve successfully as the Seoul mayor.
His nightmare of disqualification as a lawmaker and his days in Washington drifted down the Cheonggye Stream.
As water flowed along the stream, he pushed aside Goh Kun and Park Geun-hye. He yielded tangible results by transforming the capital’s public transportation system.
What if he had lacked the letter M in his initial?
He finally became a “Master of the Blue House.” He might like that reference the most among the other hidden codes in his initials.
He was lucky during the presidential campaigns, even though there was a series of disheartening factors, such as accusations of false registration for property.
A bar code at the bottom of MB was a “moral burden.”
He was ethically indebted to the public because of a violation of the election law and the entire BBK incident.
The public chose him as the new president, but it did not forgive him completely and there is still some suspicion.
So is it the desire of the Korean public that Lee should pay more attention to ethics in running state affairs?
Pragmatism means that someone should not be captivated by a well-worn ideology, but should value ethics above everything else.
Pragmatism and ethics are two wings.
Ethics with a lack of pragmatism would be problematic. However, pragmatism without ethics would be more problematic.
This is mainly because he is not in a corporate world but the world of public service.
President Lee should have appointed more people to posts in the cabinet and the Blue House with whom people can identify in terms of career and wealth.
Meanwhile, the controversy is swelling over American beef, and goes far beyond the truth. The scope of the crisis has expanded beyond necessity.
This is not mainly due to beef. In principle it is because people feel unsatisfied with Lee and his administration.
The presidential team pressed its luck too much and has paid for it with low popular ratings.
The government is in a feverish mood. The political stance that it took over U.S. beef has entangled the administration.
However, the public can appreciate some misunderstandings. But it was a serious mistake for the president not to study thoroughly the values and background of his ministers and top secretaries before he appointed them.
His other images as bulldozer, businessman and master should be nervous in front of a moral burden.
Nixon was a skillful pragmatist who succeeded in opening the bamboo curtain. However, he resigned because of the Watergate scandal and questions concerning ethics.
If he ignores ethics, MB cannot become a successful leader.
The beef crisis is a prime example. MB should appoint talented people who have a balanced capability of pragmatism and ethics.
The magic of initials is not over yet. No one knows if “Most & Best” will await him late in life.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Jin