[OUTLOOK]Security now a no-rules gameThe southern half of our Korean Peninsula is entering deeper and deeper into a strange game. There are no referees and no spectators, only two opposing teams and their strange coaching staffs. Moreover, the rules of the game are ambiguous and sometimes the game itself is ignored, but the passionate fight that the two teams put up cannot be more fervent.
The reason there are no referees is because of a degenerate negative culture that has lately polluted our playing fields. Authority and expertise are not respected and guaranteed as they should be and the lessons or decisions that should be heeded are ignored. If the lessons or decisions are favorable to me, they are on our side and if they are not, they are on the enemy’s side. There is no room for advice or mediation. There is only “us” and “them” according to our interests.
There are two reasons that the spectators have disappeared. One of them is the fault of the spectators themselves who were bewitched by a flimsy theory of equality. “Why should only the players be in the game?” they asked themselves, and bought fake uniforms to don before jumping right onto the pitch. Another reason is the fault of the strange-to-the-point-of-crooked coaches and trainers of each team. Instead of dissuading the spectators who have intruded into the grounds, the coaches are busy trying to draw as many of the intruders to their team. Worse, sometimes the coaches even try to mobilize the spectators in the stands to take sides.
The reason the rules of the game have gotten so ambiguous is because of the change in the executive branch. The written rules are still the same, but they are interpreted differently and thus their meaning becomes ambiguous and oftentimes confusing. This change in the executive branch has also caused the game itself to be ignored. The executive branch that mistakenly considered an election victory to be some sort of a great revolution is again confusing reform for revolution.
However, most apprehensive of all, is the fighting will of the two teams that seems to grow stronger by the minute. We have not always been of one accord and in harmony in the past, but the hostility and belligerent determination that have surfaced by the two sides in the past few years are scary because it reminds one of the atmosphere shortly before and after the Korean War. This writer had not personally experienced the war, but he is getting a pretty good idea of what psychology causes a civil war.
The aspects of this strange game that we are playing these days can be felt the strongest in the power struggle between the government party and the opposition over the National Security Law. The essence of debate over the fate of the security law, whether to abolish it or to keep it in one form or other, was the clash between human rights and national security. The abolition of the law was suggested by government party legislators, many of whom as opposition politicians had their rights violated under past governments, and opposed by the opposition party members who presented a still-valid case for national security.
However, the opposition soon agreed on the cause of protecting human rights and conceded to a revision of the law abolishing only the core articles that carry the biggest risk of infringing on human rights. The government party that was for a complete abolition, with the exception of a few legislators, now seems ready to consider the security factor. In conclusion, both parties have essentially agreed to revise the criminal law to supplement the security factor.
What’s left now is the way to show that agreement. Will the criminal law be revised to fill the empty spot left by the abolished National Security Law or will the National Security Law, remain and only the core articles be abolished or revised? That is the only difference. Yet the two sides, which will soon vote on the issue in the National Assembly, are acting as if they are playing each other for all or nothing. And because both sides are mobilizing the public, the people are also dividing into two sides. If we are not careful, we could fall into a mental civil war.
There is no space for any refereeing or mediation in this hullabaloo. Even the Supreme Court ruling was dismissed by one side as intentional and unfair support for the other side, and the cardinal’s advice was called “back-up from friendly troops” or “the absurd remark of reactionary morons.” Any advice from senior leaders that was not to their own taste was treated similarly by the legislators.
It is presumptuous of me to make this suggestion, but let the government party first propose how they intend to revise the criminal law so that they could fill the vacuum in national security without the National Security Law. If human rights have been protected, shouldn’t the government party also guarantee security? If the government party’s proposal is sufficient to guarantee our security, then the opposition party should agree to the abolition of the National Security Law. It is not the name of the act that is important, but the fact that our security is in substance guaranteed. Unlike other games, politics is a game in which both sides can win.
* The writer is a novelist. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Lee Moon-youl