Shame and lies cast long shadowsA South Korean is on the verge of becoming the secretary general of the UN. Maybe Korea’s own success story, developing from a war-torn nation to be the world’s 11th -ranked economy, played a role in this diplomatic triumph. Maybe, but I don’t buy that. After all, how much help did current Secretary General Kofi Annan receive from his home country?
What I would say is that Seoul’s effective diplomacy worked and that an individual’s outstanding ability persauded those UN diplomats who had a say in the vote. In short, the stars were aligned for Ban Ki-moon.
While Korea’s prestige can now be attached to the highest ranking diplomat in the world, on the international sports scene there is little to offer but shame. After he was found guilty of embezzlement charges, Kim Un-yong lost his membership at the International Olympic Committee last year. Park Yong-sung, former chairman of Doosan Group is currently suspended from his seat on the committee after being convicted of embezzlement. That leaves Lee Kun-hee, chairman of the Samsung group, as the only active member of the committee who comes from South Korea. Reportedly, the committee will make its final decision on Mr. Park by March next year. Wasn’t “zero tolerance” the phrase that current IOC President Jacques Rogge used when describing how the committee would deal with unethical behavior?
South Korea’s international success in sport is often linked to the country’s own international standing in business or dipomacy. If so, someone should tell Mr. Park to resign his IOC membership before he is given the boot and casts more shadows on the country’s reputation. He should at least have the courage to own up to what he did instead of trying to hang on to titles on his business card.
Should I spell it out? Suspended sentence or not, Mr. Park was found guilty by the court. He comitted a crime. No ifs or buts. Are we going to use the same logic for Mr. Park that is often used by the business community when they lobby the Blue House on national holidays for pardons, arguing that they should be given to high profile businessmen in jail for the sake of the economy? Pyongchang is getting ready to make its second bid for the right to host an Olympics, in this case the 2014 winter games. The city surely needs any help it can get to clinch the hosting rights. Having an IOC member from its own peninsula is certainly a plus but Mr. Park should not be counted into the equation. If North Korea somehow tries to lean on him for help it’s a disgrace. South Korea needs to show that there is no room for criminals. Street protests should be held calling for Mr. Park’s resignation from all public offices (very unlikely) This may sound like kindergarten stuff but we have seen how rules are being bent for one reason or the other. Just as I expect Ban Ki-moon to lead by an example, I expect the same from this country. There should be rules that ban people who have broken the law from representing the country in international organizations.
I don’t know what the plans are being made for Mr. Park, but I can guess what he will do. Mr. Park was re-elected for a third term in office as the President of the International Judo Federation last year in September. He didn’t resign from the race but accepted the results. If the committee decides to uphold his membership - something tells me that will happen - Mr. Park will roam around the world under the pretext he is doing this country a service.The reverse is true - his activities are a disgrace and a disservice and Mr. Park should be the first to know that.
by Brian Lee
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