[FOUNTAIN]The Ideal and the Reality

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[FOUNTAIN]The Ideal and the Reality

"It came into my mind that maybe it is time for our society to consider the issue of whether a system of state-regulated prostitution should be allowed, while I was mulling the process of how to resolve the dilemma between the reality and the ideal," the head of the Crime Prevention Department at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, Kim Gang-ja, said.

Last year, Ms. Kim declared war against prostitution in the brothel area of Mia-ri. Now, she argues for legal, licensed prostitution as a realistic measure to prevent illegal activities.

In considering the debate about registered prostitution, what is really meaningful in her statement is the "dilemma between the reality and the ideal." The ideal is a transcendental value or model, which cannot exist in reality. Plato built a philosophically ideal state based on his ideas. An idea is an eternal principle, which can be applied to everything in our world, and all things in the universe are modeled after such an idea, or are nothing more than a mere shadow of the idea. Utopia is an ideal state based on such principles, and the realization of such a place has always existed in the thoughts of mankind.

The word "utopia" is first mentioned in the fiction of Sir Thomas More, a British writer of the early 16th century. In that ideal place, which he had heard of from a sailor, everyone works only six hours a day. Its citizens can use all the goods they need from the market storage. Depicting such a place, More created the word utopia by combining two Greek words, "ou" meaning no or not and "toppos" meaning place. More also believed utopia is an ideal place that cannot exist in reality.

The former Soviet Union tried to realize such an ideal state in the real world, and it collapsed.

The confrontation between the labor unions and the government in our society have become acute and radical. The Korean Confedera-tion of Trade Unions continues to hold demonstrations against the government, which is pushing for the wholesale arrests of its leadership. The current administration and the confederation of trade unions were once ideological comrades. But, the tension between ideology and reality triggered the clash.

Such a confrontation is only one of many examples. With ideology being pursued and yet unrealized, conflicts are arising everywhere in our society.

Ms. Kim has argued for resolving the problems of prostitution by employing measures that support state-regulated prostitution. Her statement clearly represents the tension between ideology and reality, which is thought-provoking for citizens of our society.

The writer is culture news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Lee Kyeung-chul

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