During WWII (1941-1945) I thought all Japanese were bad because they took my father, a Christian minister, to prison and took away my house. Also because they started WWII against the U.S.. My best friend, my brother, went to Japan at the age of 15 in the hope of having his father released from the prison. After the war, he came home injured. He died a year later from his injury. During the Korean War (1950-1953) I thought all North Korean Communists were bad because they took my father away.
As I look back to those events now, I realize that the Japanese and the North Koreans were neither good nor bad. They were just like me, with good and evil dwelling in their hearts. Unfortunately, during WWII the evil leaders brought out evil in Japanese people and caused so much death and suffering throughout the Asian continent and America. Before the superpowers divided Korea into two at the end of WWII, North and South Korea was one country. We spoke the same language, ate the same kinds of food, and dressed the same way. Yet, during the Korean War, the North Korean soldiers tortured and murdered their Southern brothers and sisters like flies in the air. Why? Because they had Kim Il-Sung as their leader. To Kim power came first. The people’s lives came second. He wanted power first, at any cost. He wanted two Koreas under his rule. He started the war, and he didn’t win. But his action left an estimated 2.5 million North and South Koreans dead or wounded. Kim Il-Sung is dead. Now his grandson is running the country. I call them evil leaders because they brought out evil in their underlings to serve their selfish cause.
Democratic South Korea had a dictator also. Park Chung-Hee, a general, took over the government in 1963 by force, became the president and ruled the country till 1979. Under his strong-armed leadership, he normalized relations with Japan and obtained the needed capital to establish an export-oriented industry. Barren hills were forested. Farms were made productive. Highways were built between cities for commerce. Steel mills were built to manufacture steel for the production of cars and ships for export. Electronic industries were set up for consumer electronics. The export-oriented industry created jobs for millions, and the per capita income grew 25 times. Yet, President Park lived a simple life. He dressed simply. He ate ordinary foods like common men. I call him a virtuous leader because he put his people ahead of himself. He gave his people confidence and made them feel good to be Koreans.
So I see two contrasting pictures of what leadership can do: North Korea where the common people live in fear and go to bed hungry every night, while their Great Leader is busy maintaining his power and eyeing for an opportunity to grab up his Southern brothers, and South Korea where the people can openly complain about their government, and yet go to bed without fear, and with full stomachs.
A question comes to my mind: What form of government is best for people? One-man rule? Ideally, yes. One-man rule seems most efficient if that one-man is a man of great wisdom, of great mental strength, and of total dedication to serve his people. But where can you find such a man? It appears that a man in power wants to maintain his power as long as possible. He starts serving his people well, and when things get tough and his power is in danger, he uses his power at any cost to maintain power. What about rule by committee? The committee members selected by the people in separate regions? I see a danger here too. If the committee has a charismatic chairman with a selfish intention, the committee can end up serving him rather than serving their people.
A conclusion? A majority rule with checks and balances appears to be a better form of government for the people. It’s inefficient. It’s noisy. It seems that there’s no end to arguing. A majority rule leaves the minority unhappy. But in this system, no one person can gain absolute power. All the people can voice their positions. Also, if the majority rule is held in a country where human lives are respected, the minority can carry on their lives without fear of getting killed.