[OUTLOOK]Becoming a country for cuckoosThe members of the spy group called Ilsimhoe are mostly former student activists. They are not North Korean spies sent by the North. They are young South Koreans who went to university in South Korea. They call North Korea their fatherland and South Korea an enemy. Recently, many who passed the national bar exams showed surprising ideas in interviews. “South Korea does not need the army because there is no chance for North Korea to invade it in this era of reconciliation between the two countries.” “South Korea’s major enemies are not North Korea but the United States and Japan.” They also said it was wrong to indict a South Korean professor who had maintained that the Korean War was a war of reunification under the National Security Law. These people are some of the smartest people who will be in charge of the law, becoming justices, prosecutors and lawyers.
I am reminded of a cuckoo. A cuckoo does not have a nest, so it lays its eggs in the nests of other birds. The host bird broods on the cuckoo’s egg, believing it to be one of its own. After being hatched, the young cuckoo pushes the other eggs from the nest. The host bird still believes the young cuckoo is its own, so it works hard to feed the chick. When the chick becomes three times larger than its host, it leaves the nest.
A teacher who belongs to the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union took his junior high school students to take part in an event to commemorate former North Korean partisans. Militia members who worked for the North 50 years ago got together and shouted, “Let’s get rid of the U.S. soldiers from our country this year.” One of the students posted a passage that read, “Americans should not agitate us when we try to live in peace. I will do anything to stop the war on the Korean Peninsula that the United States intends to wage.” Such events have been held for years. These people have been making our children pro-North Korean.
It has been revealed that some 30 aides of the Grand National Party are members of the Democratic Labor Party. The spy group Ilsimhoe turned out to have a senior member of the Democratic Labor Party and a representative of Seoul as members. Such Democratic Labor Party members have been working to produce policies for the Grand National Party. The Grand National Party successfully enabled the newspapers act to limit freedom of speech to be passed, and supported the private schools act that will allow the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union to control private schools. Are we sure we are protecting our own nest and feeding our own children?
A democratic society and a totalitarian society have different ways of bringing up children. In a democratic society, education is aimed at helping children grow up into mature citizens who respect others’ rational judgments. Meanwhile, education in a totalitarian society is aimed at making children puppets who meet the demands of society. Such a society brainwashes individuals with its ideologies. Communist systems and the Nazi system were able to endure because of brainwashing. The problem with the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union is that it brainwashes young students with a certain ideology.
A democratic society teaches its members to have tolerance and to respect minority opinions. Meanwhile, a totalitarian society teaches that only its arguments and ideologies are right and rejects other political convictions or religious beliefs. It even encourages its members to conduct suicide terror attacks for the sake of its ideologies. What will happen when the two different ideologies confront each other? Who will win? The good things about democracy can become weak points when facing totalitarianism. Some warn that European society will surrender to Islamic extremists because of such characteristics. This is the same with inter-Korean relations. We emphasize tolerance, coexistence in peace and mutual respect. But the North insists that only its ideologies are right. What will eventually happen to relations between the two countries? South Koreans say providing too much aid to the North has caused problems, so they call for reciprocity. But a more serious problem is that we are too understanding. Co-existence occurs when both parties have tolerance for each other. When only one party has tolerance, it is likely to surrender to the party that has no tolerance. That was the flaw of the Sunshine Policy.
If we want to protect our own nest, there are things to bear in mind. We should know the limits of tolerance and coexistence. To accept ideologies and arguments that destroy democracy is not tolerance. To brood on others’ eggs is not democracy. We should not make our country a host’s nest. We should not feed a cuckoo chick that breaks the egg of democracy. If we are not careful, our country will become one for the cuckoos.
*The writer is the chief editor of the editorial page of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Moon Chang-keuk