[OUTLOOK]Opposing force denies RepublicKorean society is at war. The war is between forces which wish to protect the Republic of Korea and forces which want to shake the republic apart. The fronts in this war, fought on both a local and national level, are presently in two places. One is Songdo in Incheon and the other, Taepyong-ro in Seoul.
The opposing forces in confrontation in Songdo, Incheon, are brawling over whether the statue of U.S. General Douglas MacArthur should be removed and, in Taepyong-ro, over the reform of the conglomerate Samsung. The offensive on both issues is fierce and strong, whereas the defensive could scarcely be weaker. The attacks are conducted strategically, while the defense seems based on the rule of thumb. It appears as if the offensive forces are making much noise, while the defense remains silent.
The offensive forces claim General MacArthur was a warmonger and slaughterer of innocent civilians, and that Samsung is the source of fundamental ailments in Korean society. They talk as if General MacArthur was responsible for the division of Korea and as if Samsung is to blame for all corruption and unfair living standards in Korean society.
We don’t need to figure out how the seemingly unrelated issues of MacArthur and Samsung are connected. This is because the forces that consider the two their common target really do exist in our society. General MacArthur and Samsung did not come to seem similar to each other because they got a beating together. If we read the intention, from the outset, of the organized forces that attack the two, we can easily recognize that General MacArthur and Samsung are as one in the Republic of Korea. Under the repeated daily offensive of these organized forces, General MacArthur and Samsung have become the symbol of publicly criticized powers representing liberal democracy and the market economy.
The opposition forces that rails at General MacArthur and Samsung seem disperate, but are actually one. They deny the Republic of Korea, which is based on liberal democracy and market economics. Even more, going beyond that denial, they intend to overthrow the country. This force does not stop at just having such an intention but is united and determined to carry out its resolution.
Let’s take the case of General MacArthur, for example. On April 5, 1964, General MacArthur’s life ended in the Walter Reed Army Medical Center at the age of 84, after he struggled against liver and kidney disease. More than 40 years have passed since he passed away. Now in Incheon’s Freedom Park, setting time in reverse, people are making a racket calling for the removal of his statue. Why do they abuse the deceased general?
They attach all kinds of descriptions to General MacArthur, such as the main culprit in the slaughter of civilians, or warmonger. But let’s not beat around the bush. In sum, they abuse him because he successfully led the landings in Incheon harbor during the Korean War. When the newly established Republic of Korea was on the brink of extinction, on the battle line of the Nakdong River near Busan, General MacArthur led the operation to land in Incheon harbor. Thanks to him, the Republic of Korea was given the opportunity to recover from near-death and then-North Korean leader Kim Il Sung was driven to the brink instead.
From the standpoint of Kim Il Sung and his followers, deep rancor toward this “enemy” would not be resolved even by the passage of a half century. That is why these people dislike General MacArthur. They abuse him because, at the critical moment, he saved South Korea, which is now based on liberal democracy.
The reason people abuse Samsung is also simple. It is because Samsung thrived, moving toward becoming Korea’s premier first-class company and going against the spirit of egalitarianism and uniformity. They also abuse Samsung because its prosperity helped lay the foundation for the Republic of Korea’s survival. If the conglomerate had not done well at the outset, people would not have attacked it. People do not kick a dead dog. Using words like the “Republic of Samsung” or “Samsung-gate,” they malign Samsung everyday, as if all the ailments of Korean society originated with Samsung alone. The surest and simplest way to avoid such vilification would be for Samsung to go to ruin completely. If not, these people will find whatever justification they choose to attack the company again and again. Isn’t the irony for Samsung the fact that a thriving organization is not easy to ruin, even intentionally?
The Republic of Korea is now covered with wounds but our country has grown this far on the basis of liberal democracy and market economics for the past 60 years. The two examples that demonstrate the very real existence of forces that have a clear intention of bringing the nation to an end are the calls for the removal of General MacArthur’s statue and the vilification of Samsung.
If we are not exceptionally alert, the Republic of Korea may soon disappear. Now is the time for those who would save the Republic to wake up.
* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chung Jin-hong