[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Lawmakers devoid of honor

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[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Lawmakers devoid of honor

Koreans often ask the question, “For honor or wealth?” Let’s take a look at our country’s leaders.
True, the members of Korea’s National Assembly are paid well more than the average Korean, but it is only a fragment compared with that of a chief executive of a corporation.
The position of a congressman, with the weight and burden of leading the country, is very honorable. It could be said that politicians put more importance on honor whereas corporate executives pursue the maximization of profits, or wealth.
But what exactly are our politicians doing to keep their so-called “honor”? Every day in the news, there is another politician either convicted or under investigation. Every former president or his son has been convicted.
As a person of authority, a conviction erases any honor that was earned. Nevertheless, after they are formally indicted, corrupt politicians keep their money and spend it after they are released from jail. Corrupt executives, however, choose to kill themselves in order to hide their secrets and shame.
There is an old story in Japan about a samurai. The 10-year-old son of a samurai was accused of stealing bread from a baker. The neighbors claimed to have seen the incident and the samurai was banished. However, the child insisted he had not stolen anything. When asked by his father if he would live in disgrace or prove his innocence, the child cut his stomach with a sword. His stomach was empty. With his life, the samurai’s son proved his innocence and kept his honor as a samurai.
Recent suicides of high-ranking corporate executives are similar. After investigations into wrongdoing and public humiliation by the media, many executives choose to jump off a bridge.
They choose to die rather than live in disgrace. However, I cannot name a single congressman in Korea who chose death over life due to disgrace. Where is the honor?

by Sunghoo Yang
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