[FOUNTAIN]Gangsters on Film and in Person

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[FOUNTAIN]Gangsters on Film and in Person

Watching the ending of the Korean movie "Friends," where one of the lead characters mutters "O.K., that's enough" as he is stabbed repeatedly until he dies, I am reminded of films by the Japanese director Kinji Fukusaku. The gruesome scenes of violence as gangster underlings storm a rival gang's leaders to murder them with knives were similar in those movies.

Mr. Fukusaku's series of gangster movies were the archetype of Japanese yakuza movies popular in the 1960s. The genre launched the careers of actors that are still well-known today.

The plot of one of the yakuza movies, set in the period of Japan's economic development, went like this: A young gangster follows his gang's orders and murders a rival gang boss. He protects his gang and serves a prison term alone. When he is released, times have changed and gangsters have evolved into economic criminals. Old bosses and fellow gang members have their hands in finance and construction. They now mingle with politicians and play golf. Our ex-con realizes he has been betrayed and tries to kill his old bosses. He pulls together a group of old friends and starts a bloodbath.

The association between organized crime and the people in power has been seen in our movies and in our politics. There were gangsters and thugs in politics all the way back to the time of Syngman Rhee, and they played a central role in a 1987 incident, which was staged to block the creation of the Unification Democratic Party of former president Kim Young-sam.

In Japan, Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi was reported to have planned to hire 35,000 "security guards" of yakuza and right-wing thugs in preparation for the visit of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower in 1960. A three-time cabinet minister, the Japanese politician Tsukada Juichiro took out a sizable loan from the yakuza to finance his election campaign and ended up looking after gangsters held behind bars. Former Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita was also named in a scandal involving organized crime just before being sworn into office in 1987. Reports said Mr. Takeshita pitted one group of gangsters against another that was trying to prevent his election.

Closer to home, a scandal involving the chairman of the G&G Group, Lee Yong-ho, raised speculation on collusion between politicians and organized crime. Speculation soon spread to the National Assembly, where words like "gangster politics" and "politics by thugs" were bandied about. Our politics is no doubt troubled, but it is absurd that politics is being associated with organized crime. Let's watch the prosecution's "War against organized crime."

The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Noh Jae-hyun

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