Ethics and Politicians

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Ethics and Politicians

Many people feel disappointed with environmentalist and professor Chang Won. He was accused of sexually harassing a female college student. Chang allegedly tried to rape the college student in a hotel in Pusan while he was drunk. If this is true, it’s going to be hard to understand why a person with so much social recognition, and who has served as the forerunner in Korea’s environment and civil rights movements, would commit such an act. The country is still upset with the Generation 386 politicians who had a whisky party on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Kwangju Democratic Movement. High-ranking officials in the education sector, including the Minister of Education, also drank and partied with women in the same establishment. These are the people that should be reforming and cleaning up society. These people don’t even know how to conduct themselves properly. How can they have any hope of reforming the nation?

Professor Chang was the spokesperson for the Citizens’ Alliance for the 2000 General Elections (CAGE). He was thought by many to be an intellectual Korean of the utmost respect. During the election period, he, along with CAGE, emphasized the need for candidates to possess strong ethics. This incident makes the professor appear very hypocritical.

Why is it that the leaders of Korea can’t behave themselves? Perhaps it is because of the pervasive notion that rules are meant to be broken. As they fail to take responsibility for their own actions, Korean society is slowly seeing the death of law and order. In order to become a leader in Korean society, there should be certain immutable standards. The politicians elected to office in the 16th General Election were not thoroughly investigated because of a lack of time. Even more unacceptable is the fact that those who have been investigated and found lacking choose to ignore the results and continue to work in the political arena. The United Liberal Democrats (ULD), instead of accepting the results of an investigation, are actively seeking a way out of their situation.

We can’t expect our leaders to be perfect. However, if an individual wishes to take a public office, then he should possess a code of ethics that is more strict than that of the average person. Additionally, civil groups should be forced to undergo self-examinations to root out corruption and cronyism. Politicians that have been investigated and rejected by the people should accept the decision and leave politics. This goes for all political rookies as well, including the Generation 386 politicians, the Minister of Education and his aides, and especially for Kim Jong-pil and acting Prime Minister Lee Han-dong.


by Nam Yoon-ho

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