[VIEWPOINT]New age, new energyThe rest of the world seems to be progressing but we are going the other way. Battle scenes from classics portraying early Chinese history such as “The History of the Three Kingdoms” and “Chuhanji” are being re-enacted in our 21st-century politics. In a confrontation, the general of one side provokes his opponent. After a few clashes, he pretends to be driven out and rides away, luring the other side to chase him. He leads them to the deep valley where his men have prepared an ambush. They surround the enemy for a quick victory.
The developments since the president’s proposal for a referendum on his rule until the impeachment are uncannily like the battles during the age of the three kingdoms. The Millennium Democrats were infuriated by the insults of their enemy general and gave chase with impeachment. Their temporary ally, the Grand National Party, put on a show of prudence and declared that it was not going to get involved in any plots that disturbed the order and peace of the National Assembly for the general election. However, the allies, enraged by the president’s news conference, ended up chasing the enemy into the deep valley of impeachment. In the valley, they were attacked by an army of a million, made up of the president’s personal fan club Nosamo, the public television and radio stations, civic groups, university students, housewives, scholars and Internet users among others. The likely outcome of this battle is the collapse of the opposition parties in the general election.
While other countries are pursuing strategies for their future, we are fighting among each other, divided into those who support the president and those who do not. There is a strategy for the legislative elections but there is no leadership to prepare for the future. In the end, the people will have to bear the burden of these battles and the yoke will be upon the country. This is the tragedy.
The sociologist Norbert Elias made an interesting observation about the cyclical waves of the world’s cultural history. Two groups within one society might fight over the direction that their society is to follow, but society moves in a completely different direction than either of the groups desires. The factions inside the Joseon Dynasty in the late 19th century fought among themselves to hold power over the country, but their efforts, regardless of their intentions, led to the colonization of their country.
Japan in the late 19th century also had to make an urgent decision in the face of changes in the shape of the foreign “black ships” that appeared in the Tokyo Bay. The ruling forces, led by the feudal lords, wanted to “enlighten” the country by opening its doors to foreign influences. Others, putting up the emperor as their front, wanted to drive the foreigners away ― by force if necessary. One side wanted to open the doors but not reform the domestic structure while the other wanted to reform but not open the doors.
The fierce fighting between these two sides gave birth to a third force, the generation that would open the future of Japan. This new force implemented the Meiji Restoration to achieve the historical task of opening the doors to foreign influence and reforming the domestic structure at the same time. Within a few years, they made Japan one of the strongest nations in the world.
Our own country needs a grand turning point right now. We of the 21st century must do what the Japanese of the 19th century did. Our youth must break down the walls of the past and enter boldly as protagonists ready to open a new age.
They must refuse to become allies in a fight between old forces. They must rewrite the history of our country by overcoming and avoiding the two forces of the past that are obsessed with politicking without any vision of the future. Unlike our ancestors in the 19th century, we must participate actively in the flow of the world history by achieving true reform and opening of doors. The surging energy of the youth of this country must not be spent in taking sides with the forces of the past and in being the extras on the streets. They must lift this country back onto its feet and take on the world with creativity and dynamic energy.
If the enthusiasm of our youth for participating in society is not marked by hatred and anger but by a sense of responsibility for the new age, our future will be bright. The divisive past can then give way to a new age, wholesome, dynamic and open to the future. Are there no heroes who can light the path to this new dawning?
* The writer is a business management professor at the Information and Communications University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Lee Kark-bum