[VIEWPOINT]Lip service or quota supporters?

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[VIEWPOINT]Lip service or quota supporters?

Reading the Korean edition of the JoongAng Ilbo a week or so ago, something caught my attention. A chart comparing the campaign promises of the four presidential candidates, represented by cute caricatures, read that all four supported motion picture import quotas and the mandatory quota system for women in public posts.

The Democratic Labor Party's Kwon Young-ghil called for strengthening the screen quota system, and the two major party candidates said they believed that the mandatory quota system of women in public appointments was necessary. The independent candidate Chung Mong-joon went a step further, proposing to increase the woman's quota to 50 percent; Mr. Kwon called for a quota of 30 to 50 percent. Despite their different backgrounds and visions, the candidates all wanted the two quota systems maintained or strengthened.

I have been involved in groups or movements supporting the two quota systems for the last 10 years, but listening to the candidates, I am not sure for whom I should vote. All four candidates said they would champion female public officials and even abolish the legal system that allows only men to be the head of a family.

All four also say they are willing to defy market economic principles and the World Trade Organization to protect the movie quota system. There are four of them, but I only have one vote, and I wonder why four persons from such different backgrounds all agree on these quotas? That triggered a disturbing thought: Are the candidates just mouthing populist positions they have no intention of carrying out? Why is Roh Moo-hyun, who has stirred controversy several times with his strong words, not saying anything definite about policies concerning women? It is frustrating to think that he might actually not realize that just carrying on the relatively successful policies of the Millennium Democratic Party concerning women is not enough to be a liberal flag bearer in the 21st century.

Why isn't Lee Hoi-chang coming up with any creative policies on women's welfare while his Grand National Party holds the majority of the seats in the National Assembly and can afford to be bold? Is he just going to hitch a free ride on the more or less acceptable MDP policies while criticizing those that went wrong?

The movie quota system is a cultural logic that goes against the logic of neo-liberalism. Are the candidates determined to uphold this system in defiance of the United States? One would hardly think so, when looking at their economic policies.

More famous as the son of a chaebol founder than as a politician, and with an identity now inseparable from the World Cup, Mr. Chung has called for 50 percent of public appointments to be reserved for women. But has he ever shown such a spirit of gender equity in his Hyundai businesses or during the World Cup? Did his World Cup staff or Hyundai ever try to allocate 50 percent of their jobs to women? And how does he square his chaebol deregulation policies with his desire to continue regulating movie theaters?

Mr. Kwon's words and actions are the most consistent with his proposal to strengthen the two quota systems, but his "30 to 50 percent" proposal is too vague. Where is his determination to champion a position even if it is unpopular?

Once again, I am pondering what to do with my one vote, but I have not lost hope. Now I know that the public, even more than the candidates, acknowledges the justice of supporting these two systems. This society realizes that culture cannot flourish only in cultural industries but should be supported by people's minds, and they understand that protecting women means protecting society. Let's just hope the candidates mean what they promise.


The writer is a movie critic and a professor of film arts at Dongguk University.

by Yu Gi-na

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