[Campus Commentary]Separate emotions from the facts

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[Campus Commentary]Separate emotions from the facts

I can’t get too excited when reading the editorial sections of many Korean newspapers.
Too many carry one-sided opinions with no reasonable conclusions that are reached through critical analysis.
Opinion writers, it seems, enjoy pushing themselves against a wall to no avail. I’ve read a great deal of articles written by Korean experts in their respective fields. No matter how well they are written, the “experts” never seem to know how to get their opinions across without sounding biased.
Just last week, I read an article, “Rethinking Security in Asia,” (JoongAng Daily, April 2), written by a professor and former Korean diplomat.
Doubtless he had a valid argument to make, yet there was a gaping hole in his reasonable-sounding arguments about how Korea is slowly losing its friends while her neighbors are aligning, which shattered his credibility in my eyes.
The moment he used the word “unforgivable” to describe Japan’s denial of historical facts, I knew his argument had moved from the logical realm to the emotional.
Let’s face it: history tends to forgive many things. Christopher Columbus is still revered as a hero in much of the United States as the “discoverer” of America when we all know native American Indians were there long before him. That simple fact is treated as insignificant in most discourse about America’s pioneers.
One could say history has forgiven this disregard.
To say that the actions of the government of Japan are “unforgivable” is poor word choice, yet its use, and many more such examples in editorial page articles, says much more.
It shows that most Korean citizens cannot seem to make an argument without dwelling on those small details to give it credibility ― or emotional farce.
That same week saw an article, “Engineers are employable, but at a cost” (April 5), written by a university student majoring in engineering.
A simple look over the picket fence would have sufficed, yet the writer chose to polarize engineering students from everyone else.
No one seems to acknowledge that there are always two sides to a coin, and that neglecting the details can degrade it to nothing but a wooden nickel.
Monkey see, monkey do. And although I’m not sure which came first, the chicken or the egg, I am sure that it’s not having a positive effect on how conversations between opposites are held on our campuses.
On some occasions the entire edition of our school’s newspaper reads like an editorial. That’s something that I definitely do not want.
Editorials are meant to show the newspaper’s, or an individual’s, opinion about a certain topic. Yet no matter how strong the writer’s opinion is, it will not be credible if it is riddled with emotive generalizations.
I’ve always loved reading editorials and opinion articles because they make me think.
If there was just one thing I could take away from university I would wish for the capacity to think.
But the same one-sided emotionalism pervades editorials on campus.
If things continue this way, editorials will become a counterintuitive bunch of words merely there to fill pages.

*The writer is a reporter for the SNU Quill, an English news magazine at Seoul National University.

by Hyunmin Cho
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