[VIEWPOINT]Roh’s troubles have been self-inflicted

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[VIEWPOINT]Roh’s troubles have been self-inflicted

“After all, who do you look after? I can’t understand the way you behave.”
“When you grow up and give birth to a child like you, you will understand what I mean.”
These are the words children hate to hear most, according to a survey.
And words from children, such as, “I don’t agree with the way you live” or “Have you done anything good for me?” hurt a mother’s heart like a sharp dagger.
At a recent lecture, Catholic nun Lee Hae-in quoted a careless remark made by her friend as an example of words that hurt: “When I had the honor of winning an essay contest in my high school days, a friend of mine sarcastically told me, ‘How scarce are the good writers in your class, that even you could be the winner?”
We should certainly refrain from making the joke, “Loving children is an eternal encumbrance,” to a person who is eager to have a child, or comforting a patient by saying, “How relaxed you look!”
In that sense, former President Kim Young-sam did not behave appropriately when he visited a sick person. In May, he saw Park Geun-hye, who was hospitalized after being slashed in a terror attack. On his way out of the hospital, he said to a group of journalists there, “A lot of terror attacks were committed under former President Park Chung Hee.”
A photo of President Roh Moo-hyun and First Lady Kwon Yang-sook taken in front of the Parthenon is creating a stir in Seoul. It is a typical Korean-style tourist photo, showing the presidential couple wearing sunglasses and posing brightly in front of the Greek temple. Still, the photo made many South Koreans upset.
In the case of the president of the United States, the Blue House may complain, there wasn’t a problem even when a photo appeared showing the president riding a horse at a holiday resort right after the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States.
Why are South Koreans making such a fuss over the photo? If President Bush intended to show, by riding a horse, that “the United States will not budge an inch after terror attacks of that magnitude,” President Roh, they may say, wanted to show that “South Korea is not affected by the controversies over the transfer of wartime control from Washington, and North Korea’s missile firings and possible nuclear test.”
They may also say that those who feel offended by the photo were members of an anti-Roh faction from the beginning. Because they think that way, however, the approval rating of the present administration is hovering just above the ground.
If parents tell a child who suffers from habitual school violence, “You won’t die from it. The friends of yours who make an issue of violence are rather problematic,” how can we say they are parents?
Although the majority of people feel uneasy over North Korea’s missile launches, the president, while on an overseas tour, said, “[The North’s firing of missiles] was not for military attacks, but an experiment intended for political purposes.”
He also criticized the press for “making things difficult.” I think it is not proper for a president to say that.
Society’s dignity is like a fragrance created by its members. And it comes from the considerations we pay to each other. The words of a national leader greatly affect a country’s quality.
The reason the United States under President Bush and Japan under Prime Minister Koizumi are being downgraded and ridiculed in international society nowadays is because of their leaders.
Korean society is now experiencing a crisis of dignity, not an economic crisis like the one we suffered in 1997. And it is caused more or less by the problems inherent to the current administration. The people who were jailed on charges of irregularities involved with the handling of the presidential election funds were all pardoned and reinstated. They all had insisted that they were “the victims of old customs and practices.”
They tried to make the excuse that even former President Clinton gave amnesty to close aides toward the end of his term. And they said that when the government changes in the United States, the new administration fills about 6,000 government jobs with its own people.
Although they criticize the United States, they do not hesitate to imitate that same undesirable behavior if it serves their selfish purposes.
If the administration clings to its factional interests, its demand that interest groups “make concessions for the national interest” will not work. People get agitated when they hear the president say, “People’s livelihoods can be in trouble, even if the economy is in good shape.”
The accumulated words and the deeds of the president have created an atmosphere “in our society that anyone who does not criticize the president is criticized by others,” as Yeom Dong-yeon, a Uri Party lawmaker and a close associate of the president, said recently. That’s the reason people can’t look at a tourist photo of the president without criticizing him.

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

by Kim Du-woo
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