[OUTLOOK]Overblown rhetoric

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[OUTLOOK]Overblown rhetoric

Recently, a message posted in the Blue House Web site compared opposition to the plan to transfer the capital city to the “exorcism of curses.” This term reminded me of the title of an article that poet Kim Ji-ha wrote in a newspaper some 10 years ago. Mr. Kim wrote, “Stop the exorcism of death,” at a time when several demonstrators started to use suicide as a form of protest. Mr. Kim’s metaphor was considered appropriate by some but not by others and a considerable controversy rose over it at the time.
On the other hand, there is no real reason to compare the opposition to the Blue House’s proposed transfer of the capital city to the “exorcism of courses.” The opposition to the transfer plan resembles neither exorcism nor a courses. To combine those words to describe the opinions of those who hold reservations about the plan is a thinly disguised message of fury and resentment at their “audacity” in defying authority. This is not the face or expression that the Blue House as a central authority organ should show to the public.
The president’s rhetoric of calling the opposition an attempt by the “newspapers that have big office buildings in Sejongno” to protect their vested interests is also unconvincing. Sejongno is not the only place in Seoul that feels that its interests are being threatened by the proposed transfer. Even if it were the only place, the newspapers Mr. Roh mentioned are not the only organizations that have big office buildings on Sejongno. What we understand from this inappropriate and inaccurate remark by the president is not the unjust nature of the opposition to the transfer plan but the unjust nature of the president’s hostility, which he can hardly restrain toward certain newspapers.
However, the president is not the powerless “foolish Roh who?” of the past and the newspapers are not the mighty mammoth organizations they used to be. The president is not only the head of state, he is now also the de facto leader of the government party that holds a majority of seats in the National Assembly. On the other hand, the owners of the newspapers had been in prison during that time and the newspapers themselves were heavily fined and taxed. Their very existence could now be threatened by revisions to the media act.
The recent rhetoric from the government officials portraying any opposition to the transfer plan as an ill-intentioned movement to oust the present administration is also very worrisome.
I’ve heard of countries that collapsed after they transferred their capital cities and kings who were faced with revolts when they tried to move the capital. But I have yet to hear of a government that fell because it didn’t move the capital when it was deemed unsuitable to do so.
No matter how the president benefited from his proposal to call a referendum on his rule and from the impeachment incident, he should not make it a habit of staking his presidency on a particular policy any time he feels like it.
Although I am not knowledgeable in these matters, I believe that presidents should use rhetoric that is suitable for presidents. That is, the president’s rhetoric should be that of a commander in power. It should not make the people flinch in wonder or wince in fear.

* The writer is a novelist. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.


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