<Editor's Note> This is the interview of Prof. RHEE Dongshick with announcer in the TV talk show
aired on Dec. 8, 1990 on the Korea Educational Broadcasting System (EBS). It was translated by
Dr. YUN Woncheol (State University of New York, USA., at that time).
MC Some people tend to say that any method can be justified only if the goal is good. Furthermore, there are many instances that the moral value of the goal is not even checked. It seems that many social problems are generated from that tendency. Would you please say something about it in terms of the Tao?
RHEE To make money or to get high social status itself is not bad. It's good to be able to spend money for other people thanks to one's wealth, or to serve many people thanks to one's status of high social responsibility. But as Confucius said, "To become rich or to get a high status in an unjust way is worthless." But to do so in a right way―that's good.

Then the question is, "How can we do it in right ways?" To know what's right and what's wrong, we must do complete self-examination first of all. But our history testifies that Korean people have lacked serious self-examination. Most troubles our nation has suffered are due to her people's negligence of self-examination. Troubles we have suffered in foreign relations are good examples. Our history is full
of the incidents of foreign invasions, but we've never done serious reflection on them and therefore kept on being vulnerable. For an example, our nation suffered enormously due to the Japanese invasion and subsequent seven year war at the end of sixteenth century. The whole country was almost devastated, but anyhow managed to survive. We should have learned a lesson and got prepared never to repeat the same experience. But about four hundred years after that, in 1910, we were at last annexed by Japan losing independent sovereignty. The same problem is found in our attitude in relations with other foreign countries such as China, Russia, and so forth.

As is often discussed by mass media nowadays, the United States military government, established
in South Korea right after the end of World War II, at first tried to employ officers of the former Japanese colonial regime again in government positions. And then came RHEE Seyng-man, the first president of the Republic of Korea. He and his men, in order to hold their political power, employed cooperators of Japanese colonial regime and disbanded so-called the Special Committee for Investigation of Infidels. The other countries, after World War II at the latest, took much effort to educate their people of the Japanese ways and of how to deal with them. But we've never done it for all the atrocities we experienced. We don't even the very basic self-examination in foreign relations as well as in individuals' lives.
MC There have been many campaigns for realization of justice in our society...
RHEE All are in vain unless complete self-examination is done first.
MC Paradoxically, they seem to reflect the decay of morality, for there wouldn't be that many campaigns for recovery of morality if it were not felt to have decayed.
Next, would you please explain the relationship between the modern scientific civilization and the idea of the Tao?
RHEE To guide our own academic, political, economic, and other activities to a right direction in regard of the reality of our own nation, we must have, first of all, a clear understanding of what science is and the difference between the West and the East. But so far we have a lot of confusions regarding those issues.
I should have mentioned this at the very beginning of this conversation: There is a fundamental difference between "Learning" and "the Tao". Learning is a matter of textual studies, thoughts, language, theories, etc., while the Tao is beyond them. For an example, Buddhist monks are classified into two categories: those who specialize in doctrinal studies on one hand, and those who are devoted to the practice of the Tao on the other. But we have been educated only in the former following the Western tradition and forgot all about the latter tradition.
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