Our duty to trust those who lead us
Later, however, Kim Sung-keun proved he truly was a godlike figure after he took over the SK Wyverns in 2007. The team advanced to the Korean Series four years in a row, winning three times. But the god fell back to earth after a dispute with the management over his contract that ended with him being fired on Thursday.
Japan also has a god of baseball. As a player, Tetsuharu Kawakami of the Yomiuri Giants racked up five batting titles and was called the “god of batting.” As the club’s coach he won nine consecutive championships from 1965 to 1973, and was called the “god of baseball.”
Kawakami was not an easy man to deal with. At first, he had trouble with his fellow players, and then with sports reporters. After he became the club’s coach, he often clashed with management because he wanted more support for the team. Fans also criticized him for being too obsessed and taking the fun out of baseball. Nevertheless, the Giants never interfered with his leadership of the team. The club adheres to the principle that a coach is in charge of the game while the management provide assistance and support. This helped make the Giants a legend.
Some have said that the dismissal of Kim Sung-keun and the software crisis at Samsung originate from the same cause: the practice in Korean corporate culture of not trusting individual expertise. This reminds me of something I once read in “The Biographies of Sun Tzu and Wu Qi” in “Shiji” (“Records of the Grand Historian” 109-91 B.C.): In battle, a commander does not have to obey the orders of the king. When you confer absolute authority upon a person or you yourself are entrusted with power and responsibility, you should keep this in mind. It is a wisdom we all know, but putting the theory into practice is a challenge indeed.
*The writer is the content director at jTBC.
By Song Won-seop