Wealth carries obligationsThe chairman of a big conglomerate, which we can identify only as H, is now embroiled in a scandal. Allegedly he used violence in an act of revenge. It is said that the chairman’s son, who got drunk in a luxurious bar in southern Seoul, had a fight with other patrons six weeks ago and was injured. It is claimed that this chairman, after seeing his son’s injuries, went to the bar with some security guards from his company and beat the guests who had hit his son. The conglomerate has denied that the chairman resorted to violence. They say he just uttered a strong warning. It is not yet clear which account is closer to the truth, but regardless the chairman, who is a member of society’s elite, behaved in a way that is far from laudable. His actions are an example of the distorted ideas and behavior sometimes exhibited by wealthy and powerful Koreans.
Even if the chairman did not use violence, it is alarming that he tried to solve his son’s problems privately, by using company security guards. He should have gone to the police and allowed them to deal with the case according to law. That is the behavior demanded by a civilized society based on the rule of law. But the chairman seems to have chosen to organize something akin to a posse. What is the difference between this man and gangsters who depend on their fists rather than the law? And, if true, it was wrong of him to use company staff for a private matter. It revealed, yet again, that the founders and executives of Korean conglomerates tend to regard their employees as their possessions.
The actions of the police are also questionable. They went to the bar on the day of the incident, but they say they have not yet investigated the case. It is said that an adviser to the business group H is a former head of the National Police Agency. If the police investigation has been delayed due to lobbying by the conglomerate, that is a serious issue. The police should reveal the truth.
It is also shameful that the chairman’s son, a student in his early 20s, was drinking heavily in a luxurious bar and got into a fight with other people. It is improper for a student to do such a thing. Some might say there is no problem, if he is using his own money. But such improper acts stimulate distorted views about the wealthy and powerful members of our society, which become an obstacle to the development of healthy capitalism. The term “noblesse oblige” applies here. It means that people with wealth and power have greater responsibilities. They should try to show thanks for their blessings by setting a good example.