[FOUNTAIN]Only a few good men

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[FOUNTAIN]Only a few good men

According to Rokkaku Hiroshi, who used to be a reporter for a Japanese weekly magazine and is hailed in Japan as the guru of "unattributed documents," there are three distinct characteristics that help such documents accuse someone of something without drawing attention to themselves. First, the document's source must be unclear. Second, there must always be a specific target. Third, the document must be indiscriminately disseminated.

Mr. Hiroshi commented on the credibility of such documents by saying, "In the 1960s, between 70 and 80 percent of documents were lies, while between 20 and 30 percent were the truth. This ratio changed to 50-50 in the early '90s and nowadays the documents usually are a mix of 80 to 90 percent truth and 10 to 20 percent lies." In other words, credibility has increased.

Most of the time, cases of unattributed documents end harmlessly, but sometimes the subjects get blown up to gigantic proportions.

One might remember the "Sagawa" incident that triggered the downfall of the then leading politician, Shin Kanemaru. The incident started with an unattributed document that quietly made the rounds in economic circles in the summer of 1991. The document disclosed all the wrongdoings of the Sagawa express delivery service company and ended with a hallmark of all such documents: "I only have stated what I have known and the purpose of this document is not for any specific presentation."

Yeah, right, whatever.

In Tokyo's 1959 district gubernatorial election, the former foreign minister, Arita Hachiro, became another victim of an unattributed document. Someone decided to have some fun at the expense of Mr. Hachiro's wife, using her work experience in a high-class pleasure house, and painting her erotically enough to spur the imagination of the voters. To no one's surprise, Mr. Hachiro, till then a sure bet to be elected, lost in the election by a big margin.

Korea has its own distinctive history of unattributed documents. The Chung Tae-soo bribery case and Choi Soon-young bribery case stand out. Still waiting in the pipeline are the Lee Yong-ho bribery case and the Chung Hyun-joon bribery case. The Chin Seung-hyun case involves a vice minister under investigation for bribery.

The fertilizer for such documents is distrust. The antidote is the truth, but suspicion has already rooted itself in the belief that few honest people exist in the upper echelons of our society.

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

by Noh Jae-hyun

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