[Letter to the editor]Women’s issues are men’s issuesMany thanks to Susan Oak for her letter in your March 19 edition regarding the situation of women, one-half the population of Korea. It is certainly appropriate for a professor at Ewha Womans University to call our attention to the status of women in this country and the challenges we continue to face.
The Rev. Dr. William Sloane Coffin, distinguished American scholar, minister, pianist and champion of human rights, says it all in the following quotation from his book “Credo,” which I believe underlines the urgency of paying attention to and protecting the equality and value of women in this society.
“When will we men get over the notion ― largely unconscious ― that our lives are somehow more important than those of women, even of women we love?”
I hope Professor Oak’s comments will help bring this very notion to the consciousness and conscience of men in Korea, so that they will move more actively toward the affirmation that women’s lives are equally important to theirs.
Sonia Reid Strawn, United Methodist missionary, Seoul
Misplaced sympathies on property taxes and Korea’s housing issues
Moon Chang-keuk asks, in his opinion piece on March 20, “Can matters concerning private assets be decided by majority rule? Can leaders of a country intervene in how people should handle their private assets...?” The answer is yes; it is called taxation.
However, he does finish the above sentence with the emotive “for instance, by saying, ‘You should sell your house if you cannot afford it.’” This remark is obviously extremely insensitive and inappropriate, especially coming from a government official, but it is certainly in line with the hard logic of the market that Mr. Moon so persistently celebrates in these pages.
In Mr. Moon’s own analysis, he suggests that roughly 200,000 of the richest households in the country may be faced with this problem. While it cannot be denied that this is a problem, it is hardly a case, as he suggests, of forced “eviction” due to inability to pay property taxes. Anyone numbering among the “300,000 richest people” in Korea can no doubt afford to relocate even if this goes against their wish and involves great personal distress.
Mr. Moon should perhaps consider the much broader problem of all those who cannot move to the area they want due to the house prices, and the many more who cannot even afford adequate housing. As he rightly notes, “have-nots always outnumber haves” but as usual, his sympathies lie firmly with the economic suffering of the “300,000 richest people in Korea.”
What is most disturbing, however, is his attempt to present this problem as one where an embattled minority is threatened by ― potentially violent ― populism.
What Mr. Moon characterizes, threateningly, as “majority rule” is in fact the hard-won democratic freedoms enjoyed by all and expressed through the decisions made by elected government officials holding positions in established institutions.
His column seeks to pit democratic decision-making against the “freedom” to have a very large amount of private assets, under the fantastical specter of forced evictions. Yet again Mr. Moon reveals his strikingly undemocratic sympathies.
Rory Rowan, English teacher, Seoul