[FORUM]Problems of shallow society

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[FORUM]Problems of shallow society

It is indeed a shallow society. This society is as shallow as much as it has dynamic attributes. Two recent incidents revealed the shallowness of this society.
Let’s take a look at the indecent exposure incident during a live broadcast of “Music Camp,” a weekly music show at Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation. What disappointed us first of all was the singers who exposed their private parts. They could not look at the police and reporters. They even gave the absurd excuse that they did not know the program was being aired live. At that moment, they were degraded from “convicted criminals” to “shameless criminals.”
Could they not have said, “We wanted to challenge the duality of sex in Korean society” or at least have said, “We wanted to make fun of Korean society”? Now it would be awkward if they recited the history of exposure in concerts, from Jim Morrison of “The Doors” over 40 years ago to the recent ones by Green Day or Red Hot Chili Peppers, or if they advocated its philosophical background as a “fundamental refusal to the choking efficiency and rationality,” as Kang Hun, director of the Korea Popular Music Institute, said.
How about subsequent scenes? The police said they would crack down on decadent performances in the entertainment businesses, including by independent bands around college campuses. The Seoul municipal government said it would make a blacklist of bands that show indecent performances.
Independent bands started with the idea to play music free of the influence of commercialism and capital. The non-mainstream culture that refuses uniformity forms the diversity of culture. We are dumbfounded at the shallow measures taken by the police, who do not have the least understanding of culture and do not even try to understand it.
Look at the wiretapping scandal at the National Security Planning Agency, the predecessor of the National Intelligence Service. A opinion poll showed that more than 70 percent of respondents wanted to disclose the contents of those tapes. But if asked, “Would you want your wiretapped conversations disclosed?” those who approved of the disclosure of the tapes would obviously say no. So why do they want to hear recordings of others’ conversations? Is it because they are not included in the 1,000 people mentioned by Information and Communication Minister Chin Dae-je?
Or is it because of the sadistic psychology that desires to “eavesdrop” on what “distinguished” people are talking about behind the scenes? The justification advocates the people’s “right to know” about public figures’ remarks. But even public figures have no reason to be illegally wiretapped.
The political circles look even more strange. The governing Uri Party and the opposition Grand National Party tried to make the disclosure of the tapes legal by creating a special law and a special prosecution law, respectively. Although they know that the legislation violates the constitution, both parties are pushing ahead. The reasons are that some expect an explosion in the political community. Others think they would lose nothing if the tapes were disclosed, and still others are afraid of being seen as weak.
Is it okay to satisfy their political interests while undermining the fundamental basis that supports a society, the stability of law and the protection of individuals’ human rights?
Why do they ask to expose only 274 tapes that are in the hands of the prosecutors? Why not divulge the thousands of eavesdropped tapes recorded by the National Security Planning Agency? Maybe it would be nice to get rid of all the figures that appear on the tapes and build a new country only with the people whose conversations were not tapped.
It is also quite a sight to see the National Intelligence Service’s behavior after it announced the results of its investigation. The state agency repeatedly emphasized that former President Kim Dae-jung strongly objected to the wiretapping, but then admitted that the agency illegally listened in on fixed-line and cell phones from May 1998 to March 2002.
Despite this, the former president’s allies were angry, saying, “The Nobel Peace Prize winner has been defamed.” As Kim Dae-jung was hospitalized for medical treatment, the situation reached an extreme point. The Blue House and the governing party were busy appeasing the former president. They put the blame on the Kim Young-sam administration and the hurried announcement of the spy agency. Was it to treat Kim Dae-jung with respect? No. It was because they feared Jeolla province would completely turn on them.
Eventually, President Roh Moo-hyun explained that the Kim Dae-jung administration was not responsible for the wiretapping incidents, so it’s unlikely that the prosecutors and the National Intelligence Service will be able to examine the wiretapping that occurred under his administration. I wish for a society where what should be kept is kept while being dynamic and honest but not shallow.

* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kim Du-woo
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