Chmn. Lee stresses the virtues and wisdoms during his lifetime
Chairman Lee Pil-woo of the 11th National Assembly Lawmakers’ Association. Chairman Lee, concurrently chairman of the Association of Chungcheongbuk-do Residents in Seoul. (Photos: Chairman Lee Pil-woo's office)
A photo of Chairman Lee Pil-woo of the 11th National Assembly Lawmakers’ Association, who was elected to the parliament.
NewsWorld met with Chairman Lee Pil-woo of the 11th National Assembly Lawmakers’ Association at the Chairman Lee’s office in Nonhyeon-dong, Seoul, recently. Lee had returned from his retreat home, the Yongchu Won, located in his native town in Yeongdong, Chungcheongbuk-do. At that time, a youthful-looking Lee was busy taking time to meet scores of people from several walks of life.
Asked about his feelings on the occasion of the “Year of Golden Pig, Gihae” according to the Chinese zodiac, he said, “Now, the important thing is about the national economy. Many businessmen are experiencing difficulties stemming from the recession. Japanese media outlets do not see the outlook of the Korean economy to be rosy.”
“But at this juncture, the leaders of the nation have lots of responsibilities on their shoulders, to be addressed. We had strengths and guts to overcome hardships through public harmony when the nation was still reeling from the 1997 Korean financial crisis. I pin hope on whatever big hardships will be overcome,” he said.
Chairman Lee set this year’s phrase as “gahwa mansa seong,” a Korean saying. Explaining the meaning of the maxim, he said “nation, home and society are harmonious when the king deserves his crown, fathers deserve their position, and children do their duties (on filial duty).”
Chairman Lee believes that home is the foundation of everything and people can find happiness in a harmonious family, and society is stable. Chairman Lee emphasized the phrase in a speech he delivered to about 1,000 people on hand at a meeting of the Central Fraternity Association of Gyeongju Lee Genealogy held on Feb. 13.
Earlier this year, Chairman Lee gave out rice as a gift to members of Gyeongju Lee Genealogy residing in his native town. He has been putting into practice the virtue of sharing by donating rice he harvested from Yeongdong for decades. For a while, Lee was glued to telephone to receive thankful messages from recipients who were amazed with Lee’s lifetime “In” and “Ui” virtues - benevolence and justice.
Chairman Lee shakes hands with Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, UNC/CFC/USFK commander, at the SNU GSPA ACADA New Year’s meeting, which coincided with the 2nd Annual Meeting of the 22nd SNU GSPA ACADA and the 11th ACADA National Forum on Jan. 16, 2018. He was succeeded by Gen. Robert B. Abrams in November 2018.
Chairman Lee’s retreat house has big stones on which the letters “In” and “Ui” he loves dearly are engraved at the entrance of the Chung (Loyalty) Hyo (Filial Piety) Gate.
“In-Ui” or, benevolence and justice, is the basic for the Confucius spirit and its completion depends on the practice of “Hyo (filial piety),” being fully filially loyal to the parents. Confucius taught that Hyo is the root for all the actions as it makes up the top level of the virtue for practicing “In.”
Chairman Lee always calls his son, “the loyal son,” or his daughter, “the loyal daughter,” which is why his four children respect him so highly.
Whenever he visits a neighborhood restaurant, he becomes a friend to the owner and calls the young owner a loyal son, and those young eatery owners become very loyal to their parents after they were called loyal sons by the chairman.
Chairman Lee always kept the letters, “Chung-Hyo,” being faithful to state and filially loyal to parents, in his mind as he started learning the Chinese letters when he was just three years old.
Chairman Lee Pil-woo talks with former defense minister Lee Sang-hoon and Chungcheongbuk-do Gov. Lee Si-jong during the General Assembly of the Association of Chungcheongbuk-do Residents in Seoul and New Year’s gathering at Lottel Hotel in Jamsil, Seoul, on Feb. 26, 2015.
He did so well to his seniors when he was in the military service and became the most trusted member of the unit, which led him to be assigned to the Presidential Guard at Cheong Wa Dae, the Presidential Mansion. Fulfilling his heavy responsibility served as a driving force to make him one of the wealthiest businessmen in the Gangnam area in Seoul.
He maintained a warm relationship with presidents in the past 60 years. He tried to be humble and modest, virtues he learned from reading many books, especially ones related to the Confucianism as the result of his hard efforts.
He reads “Chu-yeok,” an ancient Chinese book on Confucianism, in his free time as he always said he can find wisdom from ancient books. Chu-yeok takes up the top-level in the Chinese studies. The chairman can recite some well-known phrases from Chu-yeok so easily that his brightness make people forget how old he is.
“You always learn throughout life as the books have the hidden wisdom that the people need to make their daily lives meaningful and your heads don’t get rusty,” he said.
Chairman Lee invited the reporter to read books recommending the Myong-shim-bo-gam and the collection of Confucian teachings which contain the virtue of “In” and wisdom that the people need to get by in life.
The chairman enjoys swimming, even during the winter. His muscles that he has been looking after through various physical activities, still look as good as in his younger days. He used to say the secrets for long lives are the good thoughts, physical exercises and having balanced foods daily. He always believed that any illness can be cured with a balanced diet.
Outside the window, a February snowfall seems heavy, the inside the office is filled with warmth, thanks to spring sun light that permeated thru the office. The interview was over as he said, “Be healthier in the new year.” To us, Chairman Lee Pil-woo enjoying a long life without disease seems to be one of the most valuable gifts.
Chairman Lee Pil-woo of the Central Fraternity Association of Gyeongju Lee Genealogy presents scholarships and filial piety awards to youths at an association’s meeting.