[OUTLOOK]Coming out of the woodworkIn the two-decade-long march toward democratization, will the last stop be communization? Korean citizens strongly believe that the journey should never end that way. However, today’s reality is worrisome.
Some people want to bring down the statue of General Douglas MacArthur and are eager to help the Kim Jong-il regime with cash and other assistance. They went to the North to attend the Arirang Festival and were enthusiastic about attending even the ceremony commemorating the founding of the North Korean Workers’ Party.
At last, a university professor openly confessed his regret that South Korea was not communized. Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels must be delighted in their graves, but even Russia, the fatherland of communism, is considering removing the preserved body of Lenin from display and burying it forever. Why do some of us sing outdated praise of communism? In what era on earth are we living?
On Sept. 30, Professor Kang Jeong-koo argued that the Republic of Korea should have been communized. His claim is a landmark event in the history of communism in Korea. It is a signal that the communists operating underground are coming out into the daylight.
As grounds for justifying communization, Mr. Kang conveniently interpreted part of an opinion poll conducted in 1946 to support his theory. In fact, using and distorting partial data for propaganda and agitation purposes is a typical communist tactic. Similar propaganda tactics were used when the communists purged alleged conservative rebels and tried people in a kangaroo court, and most recently, when former Japanese collaborators were sought out.
Even if public opinion had been right, the correlation between public opinion and history is not so simple. According to an opinion poll conducted in 1774, two years before the independence of the United States, most Americans in the British colonies were satisfied with the existing system of being governed by Britain. Only a few intellectuals in Boston supported independence. According to Mr. Kang’s interpretation, the United States should not have declared independence.
Then, what encouraged the communist manifesto of today? Mr. Kang is not a militant democracy fighter with a spectacular record. He once applied for a job at a newspaper that is considered the most conservative of all. He and his family enjoyed the benefits the United States offered. At every angle, he is not in the best situation to step forward. Paradoxically speaking, the atmosphere must have been so ripe that even a vulnerable, old scholar in his 60s came out despite his history of contradiction. The president has been reiterating his theory of the Republic of Korea that should not have been born whenever he gets a chance, and the president might have encouraged Mr. Kang’s pronouncement.
The Sept. 30 declaration of Mr. Kang is not unrelated to a series of events in the Roh Moo-hyun administration that are similar to what happened during the Cultural Revolution of the Chinese Communist Party, such as accusing the majority of citizens of being conservative, openly hating the wealthy, drawing lines among the citizens, oppressing businesses and harassing corporate executives and university presidents. Therefore, Mr. Kang’s pronouncement is targeted at President Roh Moo-hyun of all people. He is demanding the president stop equivocating with ambiguous rhetoric and clearly define his intention.
When citizens are intimidated by threats of communization, what has the opposition party done to save the citizens? On July 11, 2004, in her acceptance speech, Grand National Party Chairwoman Park Geun-hye proclaimed that she would declare an all-out war if the situation of shaking liberal democracy, denying patriots and jeopardizing national identity continued. However, she has been emphasizing the “politics of coexistence,” a phrase the ruling party needed to advocate, much less than an all-out war. She seemed confused and barely hanging onto the blade the president was brandishing. The Grand National Party needs to check if it was fulfilling its role of checking the governing party. A brief statement of a spokesperson cannot conclude today’s crisis.
In short, Mr. Kang’s remark is terrorism on the Republic of Korea and its citizens. We might call it the Sept. 30 terror attack. Koreans were even more shocked and terrorized by his remark than the shock of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on Americans. The communists inflicted on us irreversible suffering and tragedy. Millions were sacrificed and tens of millions were separated from their families. Moreover, Mr. Kang trampled on the pride of the silent majority when he said the mainstream of Korean society was trapped in the voluntary slavery of worshipping the United States. Did he intend to say that another war to “liberate” the “slaves” should occur? The citizens are no slaves of any country, and even strongly refuse to become the slaves of communism.
We think that it was God’s protection that at least the Republic of Korea was not communized, and we are thankful for it. However, there still are some people in our society who feel sorry that the country was not communized and consider it the regret of their lives. Communists, who had been operating underground, wearing a mask of democratization and exploiting the name of the Koreans, will reveal themselves one after another. We need to pay attention to the emergence of the communists.
* The writer is a professor of mass communications at Kangwon National University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily Staff.
by Lee Kwan-youl