[OUTLOOK]A red card for North KoreaZinedine Zidane’s head-butting is still one of the biggest sports issues these days, although the FIFA World Cup is over.
People all around the world are talking about the incident in which the French soccer star butted an Italian defender, Marco Materazzi, in the chest and was sent off with a red card in his last game as a professional player.
Even lip-readers tried to decipher their words on television images to figure out what the two players had said to each other before the incident occurred.
At last, Zidane came up with his own answers in a television interview. He said Mr. Materrazi used profanity and mentioned the French player’s mother and sister, so he had no choice but to react the way he did.
The Italian defender, of course, is denying that accusation. The incident still remains controversial.
However, people do not see Zidane as a bad guy who spoiled the 2006 World Cup championship game. Instead, he is seen as a person who is afraid of nothing in protecting what or whom he cares about the most.
Meanwhile, when looking at what is going on in Korea, I have an urge to do some head-butting of my own.
I felt this urge particularly when the North Korean delegation head, Kwon Ho-ung, said North Korea’s emphasis on its military capabilities guarantees the South’s national security, and that a large number of South Koreans are beneficiaries of North Korea’s protection.
North Korea fired missiles and it now said South Korea was safe, thanks to the North.
We should do something about the North’s impudence and arrogance other than just lamenting in disbelief. This remark is truly insulting and shows that the North has no respect for South Korea.
In fact, many North Koreans can avoid starvation only thanks to our aid, contrary to what the North Korean said. How long should we swallow such insults without reacting?
South Korean leaders at the talks should have butted Mr. Kwon on his mouth with their heads.
The Pyongyang delegation head’s status inside the North Korean regime is unknown. It is unclear whether he is at the same level as South Korea’s unification minister.
I got the impression that he is not an influential person, and was just supposed to faithfully deliver North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s message.
After delivering the message, he left the talks immediately and headed home. There was no reason for him to stay longer, because his job was done.
Mr. Kwon refused to talk about the salvo of missiles by the communist regime, saying that it was the military who conducted the drill, so he did not know anything about it.
This is similar to what Materazzi did ― he says he swore but the language was no worse than that heard by many soccer professionals in a hard-fought match.
The North Korean delegation head asked Seoul to donate 500,000 tons of rice to the North because a majority of South Koreans benefit from its military, which proudly possesses missiles. This is very cheeky indeed.
As if that was not bad enough, there was more to come. The North Korean leader said South Korea will have to pay the price for rupturing the inter-Korean ministerial talks and for causing devastating results to inter-Korean relations.
He also said before heading home that the South’s sin in rupturing the talks will be sternly punished.
If I were the unification minister, I would have butted Mr. Kwon with my head instead of trying to reason with him.
Zidane chose a head-butt to defend his family’s honor. He was not afraid of losing the World Cup championship and was ready to give up his Golden Ball award.
And people around the world did not criticize his behavior. People instead applauded him for employing a stern reaction to protect the most precious things to him, placing everything else at stake. I envy his determination and courage to stand up for what he believes in.
* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chung Jin-hong