[FOUNTAIN]Under the Presidential Clothes

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[FOUNTAIN]Under the Presidential Clothes

Naked pictures of the president are making a sensation in France. President Jacques Chirac briefly basked completely naked on his balcony during his summer vacation at a private Mediterranean cottage, and paparazzi photographers were able to take pictures of him with their telescope lenses. The French newspapers and media were unwilling to publish the pictures in full because they were unsure of reader response and they took the president's reputation into consideration, but Elysee Palace officials could not stop fretting that the pictures might end up in foreign newspapers and magazines. The effrontery of the paparazzi, who are willing to chase their quarry to the ends of the earth to poke their cameras around, seems too much to bear.

Quite apart from the notorious paparazzi, Mr. Chirac who dared to expose his naked body is also a good research subject. Just like Marilyn Monroe, who proudly revealed, "My nightgown is Chanel Number Five," the name of a famous French perfume, Mr. Chirac may also belong to the group of Westerners who cannot sleep clothed at night. If not, would he have suddenly wanted to imitate nudists who flock to the Mediterranean Sea looking for plenty of sunshine? Or did he simply want to fully enjoy his vacation in the most convenient and natural outfit, throwing away the wardrobe of authority and formality that his position requires?

In Andersen's fable, The Emperor's New Clothes, there was a king who liked to hear praise from his subjects. A swindler deceived the king by saying he would produce a suit made from special cloth that could be seen only by honest people. Unwilling to admit that he couldn't see the cloth, the king proudly exposed his naked body to the people. All the government officials endlessly praised the magnificence of the king's clothes, being afraid to be thought dishonest. The common people, too, praised the king's outfit until innocent and fearless children teased the king's nakedness.

In Shakespeare's tragedy King Lear, the king asked to unfasten buttons and said that all human beings are just pitiful, naked two-legged animals if they were stripped of their magnificent clothes in which they boast of themselves. In the view of nudists, who claim that everybody is equal when naked, the French media's decision not to disclose the pictures of the naked president seems inappropriate.

If the clothes of the president are the clothes of lies and vanity like those of the king who sought fame only to be deceived by the blarney of swindlers and flatterers, the president might as well take off all his clothes.

The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Bae Myung-bok

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