[OUTLOOK]President must do his dutyA scandal has erupted over student activists-turned-politicians involved in spying for North Korea. Something was odd, and now things are being revealed. When North Korea fired its missiles and conducted a nuclear test, the administration and leading politicians continued shouting for self-reliance. They were backed by North Korea.
I feel depressed and bewildered when looking at the profiles of the people who are being investigated.
They were not born in North Korea and were not educated there either, but went to prestigious schools in South Korea. They are smart enough to see the differences between South and North Korea. So why did they prefer the North? What made them blind? What possessed them? Why did they voluntarily serve the North? Ideology infused when people are young is truly powerful and even scary because it makes them slaves for the rest of their lives. Are our kids safe and healthy? Who controls and possesses their minds and thoughts? The ideological education by the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union is dangerous in this sense.
The young aspire to an ideal. It is understandable that the generation that went to college in the 1980s, the era of oppression by military rule, were frustrated during that period. Every country has its generation of resistance. In the United States, as the movement against the Vietnam War erupted, leftists dominated college campuses. It was the same in Europe. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Germany’s former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder belong to that generation.
In the United States, some call it a “lost generation.” In the most important phase of their lives, its members concentrated on resistance and so became useless when called by their country, which needed them. In South Korea, former student activists entered politics during the last presidential election. They flocked to the National Assembly, political parties and the Blue House. Four years have since passed. Now what is left? They may have thrown Molotov cocktails or occupied the American embassy when they were young. However, there is one rule they need to abide by. They must never betray their country. When they pass that line, they can never be forgiven.
It is upsetting that 25 million North Koreans struggle and starve in the North, but do these politicians want to put 48 million South Koreans in the same hardship? Does this generation of former student activists seek to become a generation of Judases, not just a lost generation? These former activists worked in political circles. I came to wonder if the Blue House is safe, because rumors swirl that these former activists dominate the Blue House. What if even a couple of officials there are involved with these leftists? I can’t shake off my suspicions.
The president said North Korea developed nuclear weapons for its self defense. He said “What is wrong with being anti-American?” Did he make such remarks because he heard something from these former student activists? North Korea argues to have Americans thrown out of South Korea and to reunify us as one Korean nation. I can’t tell the difference between the North’s argument and that of the South Korean administration. Is it only me who is suspicious about this?
Politics is a competition for power. All kinds of maneuvers are used but there is an ultimate rule: Power can never be regarded as more important than a country. When it comes to the existence of a country, divisions such as ruling and opposition parties or progressives and conservatives do not count. However, in our politics, this rule has gone. North Korea conducted a nuclear test and political factions fought over this issue. A common sense of crisis cannot be found. That was why a political leader danced in Kaesong, the North Korean city where an inter-Korean industrial park is located.
As long as one gains power, is it okay that his or her country is ruined? Power exists only when the country exists. In this respect, any president can not be more important than his or her country. The Constitution states that protecting the country is the president’s duty. A president’s right to employ government officials should be respected, but that is also less important than his duty to protect the country.
The director of the national intelligence agency is to be changed. That might be understandable if the time had come to do so. But now is not the right time. He directed the investigation of the political leaders involved in this espionage. Nobody knows how far this case will go. Why should he be replaced now? He should instead be backed to do his job ― to protect the country. South Koreans wait for their president to order a thorough investigation, even into the Blue House. That is the duty of the president imposed by the Constitution.
* The writer is the chief editor of the editorial page of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Moon Chang-keuk