[THE NOTEBOOK]Nasty Words Have No Place HereA regular column called "Mal Mal Mal" in JoongAng Ilbo's opinion page is a highly read feature. The column contains several quotes of well-known people, and mal means "words" in Korean. The reason for the popularity is that the column provides a peaceful smile to readers and with "a beauty of language" keenly describes the theory and nature of society with just a small number of words.
But JoongAng Ilbo decided not to publish the words of spokesmen for the ruling party and the opposition party in the column for the time being, which began last Friday. This decision will continue until the statements and comments of these spokesmen regain their rationality.
The ruling Millennium Democratic Party's spokesman said to the opposition party, "Fake constitutionalist, have you lost your mind from too much heat?" He used other descriptive words, such as, "immoral with hypocrisy" and "are you out of your mind?" and "malicious intention" and "sleazy tricks" and "unforgivable and bad slip of the tongue," and "disgusting flirtatiousness."
The Grand National Party shot back with, "Hopping and raging high like crazy is well worth watching" and "vicious scheme" and "abominable," "talking in delusion, ruining our country" and "pigs think everybody is a pig" and "reckless remarks and talking like gangsters" and "trumpeter of ruling camp" and "habitual paradox" and "government that kills people."
It is possible that the ruling and opposition parties' spokesmen may not take seriously that they have carelessly uttered and spewed forth such words. Such remarks are not a new phenomenon, but something that has become a chronic condition in politics.
Amid the mounting criticism of such comments, the spokesmen on both sides took introspective positions. The ruling party's spokespman, Jeon Yong-hak, said, "I will modestly take it as painful advice." The opposition party's spokesperson, Kwon Chul-hyun, promised, "I will carefully write each word." Nevertheless, he did not forget to mention the excuse on his side: "Because the other side threw senseless attacks from the beginning."
In mid-1980s, when negotiations to reduce armaments between the United States and the Soviet Union was near collapse, Secretary of State George Schulz said very politely to Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze, "We are facing difficult tasks that we must strive to solve, but as a human being I tried to cooperate with the other side. At even this most tense and difficult situation, please understand my feelings that I intend to treat you with dignity and respect."
Until the negotiation to reduce armaments between the two countries overcame turns and twists and settled successfully, there were politicians who made efforts to keep "dignity as human beings" at a difficult time like this. This is "real politics."
The JoongAng Ilbo sincerely hopes to publish again statements of the spokesmen of both ruling and opposition parties in the column, not with nasty libelous remarks and insults, but with high-level jokes and political humor.
The writer is a reporter for political desk of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Chong-hyuk