중앙데일리

No longer a ‘death note’ (KOR)

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Sept 16,2019
CHOI MIN-WOO
The author is a deputy political team editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

In August 2017 when Park Ky-young was nominated for the head of the Science, Technology and Innovation Office in the Moon Jae-in administration, the left-wing Justice Party’s “death note” was first mentioned. Foreign minister nominee Kang Kyung-wha, defense minister nominee Song Young-moo and fair trade commissioner nominee Kim Sang-jo — opposed by the opposition Liberty Korea Party, People’s Party and Bareunmirae Party — could land their job. But justice minister nominee Ahn Kyong-whan and labor minister nominee Cho Dae-yop, who the Justice Party had opposed, resigned.

On Park Ky-young, the nominee for the head of the Science, Technology and Innovation Office, the Justice Party claimed that she had violated research ethics, and three days later, she resigned. People started to say that the death note was accurate and creepy. The climax of the death note was the former head of the Financial Supervisory Service Kim Ki-sik who withdrew over the “self-sponsor” controversy during his term as lawmaker.

After the controversial appointment of Cho Kuk as justice minister, many people think the death note is no longer valid because the Justice Party supported his appointment despite all the allegations against him and his family. That’s a double standard. Compared to the suspicions about them in the death note — Ahn Kyong-whan’s unlawful marriage registration, Cho Dae-yop’s drunk driving, Cho Dong-ho’s attendance at unreliable seminars and Choi Jung-ho’s real estate speculation — controversies involving Cho are far-reaching: suspicious involvements in a private equity fund and his daughter’s education.

The Justice Party was not consistent. At first, there was a negative atmosphere in the party toward Cho, but the mood changed as the Special Committee for Judicial Reform passed a bill aimed at increasing the number of seats for minority parties like the Justice Party. People say the death note has turned into a “deal note.”

“Death Note” is a 2003 Japanese manga series. Light, a student, picks up a notebook, and if he writes a name on the notebook, that person dies. Light writes the names of criminals who were not punished and tries to fight evil. But as the serial murders becomes a social issue, Light cries out that he is justice, the god who saves weak people from evil.

Is the theme of the Japanese comic asking if justice is reflected in reality? As it turned out, the last name written on the death note in the comic series is Light.
최민우 정치팀 차장

정의당 ‘데스노트’(Death Note)가 처음 회자된 건 2017년 8월 박기영 과학기술혁신본부장이 지명될 때였다. 앞서 한국당ㆍ국민의당ㆍ바른정당이 반대한 강경화ㆍ송영무ㆍ김상조 등은 그대로 임명된 반면, 정의당이 반대한 안경환ㆍ조대환 후보자는 자진 사퇴했다. 박기영 후보자에 대해 정의당이 “연구 윤리를 어겼다”며 거부하고, 사흘 뒤 박 후보자가 물러나자 “족집게 같다, 소름 끼친다”는 이들이 생겨났다. 특히 데스노트는 ‘셀프 후원’논란으로 김기식 전 금감원장이 낙마할 때 정점을 찍었다. 당시 고(故) 노회찬 원내대표는 “국민 상식에 따랐을 뿐”이라고 했다.

하지만 조국 사태를 거치며 “데스노트의 시효가 끝났다”란 평가가 적지 않다. 우선 이중잣대다. 여태 데스노트에 이름을 올린 안경환(불법 혼인신고), 조대엽(음주운전), 박성진(역사관 논란), 조동호(부실학회 참석), 최정호(부동산 투기) 등에 비해 조국 장관의 의혹은 사모펀드ㆍ딸 논문ㆍ표창장 위조 등 차고 넘친다. 당 행보도 오락가락했다. 초기엔 “조국 보니 김의겸은 짠하다”며 부정적 기류가 역력했는데, 선거법이 사개특위를 통과하자 돌변했다. “데스노트가 아니라 눈치노트, 거래노트”라는 지적이다.

‘데스노트’는 본래 2003년 만들어진 일본 만화다. 평범한 학생 라이토가 우연히 노트를 하나 줍고, 거기에 이름을 쓰면 그 사람이 죽는다는 게 모티브다. 라이토는 심판받지 못한 흉악범의 이름을 적어가며 악을 처단하고자 한다. 하지만 연속 살인 범죄에 사회적 논란이 커지자 라이토는 절규한다. “나야말로 정의야. 악에 떨고 있는 약자를 구하는 신이라고.”

정의가 과연 정의로운지 묻는 원작의 주제가 고스란히 현실에서 재연된 것일까. 만화 ‘데스노트’에서 마지막에 적힌 이름은 주인공 라이토다.


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