[EDITORIALS]Uri chairman’s populist smear

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[EDITORIALS]Uri chairman’s populist smear

There is a serious problem in Uri Party Chairman Lee Bu-young’s understanding of history. At the party’s central committee meeting Friday, Mr. Lee said, “Why did those who owned fortunes and received high educations not pay taxes or fulfill their military duties in the past? It was because those who betrayed the country were promoted to higher positions, and then these people avoided paying taxes and dodged military obligations.” Mr. Lee made a similar remark on Monday, too. Maybe these are his personal beliefs.
It is true that Korea has not set the historical record straight when it comes to pro-Japanese activities. But as in the lives of patriots who worked for national independence, and as in the lives of ordinary people, there were ups and downs in the lives of pro-Japanese collaborators after national liberation, and these depended on the lives of the individuals. It is a leap of logic to claim that all who collaborated with the Japanese were promoted to high positions, didn’t pay taxes and didn’t fulfill their military duties.
Such simplification will only lead to populism. It may be easy to make a political issue out of this, but the fallacy of the logic will easily crumble. Mr. Lee should keep in mind that the first victim of this issue came from the Uri Party, and was none other than his predecessor, Shin Ki-nam.
Moreover, Mr. Lee’s remark about “those who eat well and live well” reveals an intention to agitate people. He is painting those who have high incomes and higher educations as the descendants of collaborators, tax evaders and draft dodgers. Most of the people in leadership positions in our society have succeeded by way of desperate effort, under the same conditions as others, or under even more disadvantageous circumstances. How can Mr. Lee criticize them en masse as traitors and evaders of responsibility to the nation? On what grounds, and in what capacity, does he make such remarks?
Look at our neighbors, Japan and China. Are they hanging onto the past? Are they free from historical taint? Why do they leave their pasts covered, and work hard instead to build up their national economic power? It is because they know how to survive in the cold reality of international dealings, and how to advance their national interests. What shall we gain from clinging to the past alone? Has Mr Lee or the Uri Party ever thought about how these countries will treat Korea once our economy collapses?
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