[VIEWPOINT]Like cancer, gambling has no cure

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[VIEWPOINT]Like cancer, gambling has no cure

When I was a child, I played cards with my older brother to kill time. As the games lost excitement, we began to bet money. When the game that we started for fun turned into gambling, suddenly it became tense psychological warfare, in which we searched each other’s intentions with bloodshot eyes.
At last, my brother and I started to fight over a few coins, crying and struggling. My father, having heard the noise, came to our room. Instead of scolding us, however, he suggested that we play with him. My father sat between my brother and me. After a few rounds, the money in front of my brother and me started to move to my father’s side. After a few more rounds, the money in front of us had all disappeared. My father swept all of the games. He asked whether we wanted to play more. My brother and I both shook our heads. Then my father collected all the money in front of him and returned to his room without giving us any handouts. After that incident, I never played cards again.
If my father scolded me and my brother, we might have stopped playing cards on the spot, but I might have played cards again later.
Instead, my father, saying that he wanted to play with us, made both of us empty-handed. That must have engraved a deep impression into my young mind that “gambling is really a dreadful thing.”
That is right. Gambling is a bad habit that cannot be stopped by simple words of advice or admonition.
It was a downright blow, hard enough to be called cruel. Still, it is not enough to hit the hands of a gambler, because gambling is a treacherous habit that induces one to play until the end.
To cut this addictive habit, therefore, we must give a serious blow to our minds and spirits, which are seduced by gambling.
Even if we hit them hard enough so that tears are shed, gambling has the dreadful nature of seducing one with a deep desire to gamble even more.
In that sense, gambling is like a cancer. While one thinks he is free from lung cancer, the malady can start to develop again, in his brain or stomach.
Likewise, the gambling habit can revive and spread like a cancer, even after it was thought to be removed.
Therefore, gambling desperately needs a cure. As a cancer patient is cured with radioactive treatment and anti-cancer treatments, including operations, gambling must be cured with a fundamental measure so the gambling psychology cannot be revived.
At the moment, the whole country is stirred by a video gambling machine called Sea Story. The whole nation is in a catastrophic fuss. So even if a sensational headline like “Gambling Republic” decorates the front page, it does not seem to be an exaggeration.
However, the real gamblers who are addicted to their bones will only dive deep into the sea and come up to the surface after the storm is over, as they know the stir will not last long. We have a peculiar temper of heating up fast and cooling down quickly again, like a pan.
The reason the operators of Sea Story game machines are busy smuggling out their video machines even before prosecutors and the police launch investigations is not because they want to control the damage by selling them to junk dealers.
It is the expression of their tenacious will for gambling that they will enjoy good business by coming back to surface after riding a submarine for the time being.
Moreover, in this chaotic situation, which is the product of a disaster that goes beyond a simple failed policy, the chief of staff of the Blue House, who used to blame the press for the failures of the incumbent administration’s policies, has elevated the press to the status next to the three branches of the government. He has complained as if the gambling scandal occurred because of the weak surveillance function of the press.
Is he ailing from “a cancer of perception” to say such words? People used to say in a situation like this, “Shut up and mind your own business!”

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

by Chung Jin-hong
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