[IN THIS CORNER]Crackpots of the world, unite!It’s a pity that in Korea it is still considered a crime to be stupid.
At least that is the impression being given by the current controversy over the legalization of a hard-left student group whose members have been playing a cat-and-mouse game with bored policemen. The cops occasionally tire of ignoring traffic violators and turn to ignoring wanted students who pop up on campuses for photo opportunities. (It’s no fun being a wanted ideological criminal if you can’t get your photo in the newspaper occasionally.) Once in a while, because of the same lack of intelligence that makes those students think North Korea is a wonderful place, the police manage to catch one or two of them. Then they don’t know what to do with them.
Georges Clemenceau, who led France during World War I, was once informed by a friend that Clemenceau’s son had become a Communist. “My son is 22 years old,” the old man replied. “If he had not become a Communist at 22, I would have disowned him. If he is still a Communist at 30, I will do it then.”
Even the conservative dinosaurs in Korea, to whom conservative thinking means doing things the old-fashioned way ― bribing everybody in sight ― should welcome the legalization of the student group. That would discredit the emerging responsible liberal movement here to an extent that the conservatives could never manage alone. Assuming that the radical students could squeeze out some newspaper space for themselves between the striking truckers and the protesting school principals and other red-headband types, they would quickly find that having a bigger audience for their crackpottery would mean only that more people would laugh at them.
Communism never worked because its basic tenet is that human beings are perfectible. Most of the world’s other religious or ethical systems accommodate history’s lesson that humans are about as screwed-up as any sentient beings could be. And Communists are even more screwed-up than most.
Even someone as counter-culture as Frank Zappa ― if you’re too young to know who he is, Google for his official Web site and ponder the kind of rock stars your parents idolized ― recognized that. “Communism doesn’t work,” he said once. “It’s against a basic law of nature: PEOPLE WANT TO OWN STUFF!”
Korea has a zillion laws, many of them contradictory and quite a few unenforced except immediately before and after elections or when the Blue House gets upset about someone’s criticism. Korea also has hyperactive spies who nominally get paid to dig up plots that could be national security threats. They could focus on running down true North Korean spies in the South, and they might consider that it might be easier to trace them if the students that the North Korean spooks are trying to influence were in public view, not either hiding out or getting free medical checkups on university campuses.
by John Hoog
The writer is a deputy editor of the JoongAng Daily.