Clever and diligent vs. clever and lazy

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Clever and diligent vs. clever and lazy


Kurt von Hammerstein (1878-1943) was a German general who opposed Hitler and the Nazi regime. He was famous for classifying his officers into four groups: clever and diligent, stupid and lazy, clever and lazy and stupid and diligent. The first group made up the general staff; the second, suited to routine duties, were 90 percent of the army; the third were senior officers in leadership because they had intellect and composure necessary for difficult decisions; and the fourth could not be trusted with any responsibility because they will always cause mischief.

Von Hammerstein’s classification system applies to other organizations as well.

The ruling Saenuri Party’s Chung Doo-un classified the prime ministers of Korea according to Hammerstein’s methodology as he spent 15 years of his 20-year career in public service at the Office of the Prime Minister. He worked with 18 prime ministers, from Chin Iee-chong in the Fifth Republic to Park Tae-joon of the Kim Dae-jung administration. The “clever and lazy” prime ministers were Lee Hong-koo, Lee Soo-sung and Kim Jong-pil. This is the type most preferred by the staff. “Clever and diligent” types included Ro Jai-bong, Kang Young-hoon, Lee Hoi-chang and Park Tae-joon. Park was the most diligent one of all.

Chung did not mention the two groups that are stupid, no doubt to avoid embarrassing them. He wrote about a former professor at a top university, who had attempted to bribe him to get a government research project. When he was appointed prime minister, Chun had to work for him.

Before President-elect Park Geun-hye nominated transition team head Kim Yong-joon as the first prime minister of her administration, various names were mentioned as potential candidates. In a conversation with friends, someone came up with an idea of reappointing incumbent Kim Hwang-sik. It would have been an unprecedented and groundbreaking appointment, and we all agreed it was a good idea. Kim maintains a good image and has been doing his job well. As he has made no trouble in the national administration, he is sure to be remembered as the longest-serving prime minister since democratization because he will have been in office two years and five months by the time Park takes office.

If Kim Yong-joon is confirmed in the hearing, what type of prime minister will he be? He would be the oldest one in history, at age 75. His career verifies he has intelligence, so I hope he becomes a clever and lazy one.

Lawmaker Chung Doo-un wrote “Best Prime Ministers, Worst Prime Ministers” after he lost the 2000 general election, and after serving three terms he was recently put under court custody for a violation of political fund regulations. The weight of public positions and the conduct and ethics of public servants are not to be taken lightly.

*The author is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Noh Jae-hyun
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