[Outlook]Roh’s one-man showLast Saturday night, a TV program of SBS was about the founder of a religious sect who allegedly committed fraud, violence and sexual abuse.
The program was an in-depth inquiry into the suspicions and the truth. Victims who used to believe in the sect testified that they were sexually abused in Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Japan.
Their goal in life was to meet the messiah and when they finally met him, the leader ordered them to take off their clothes.
When they hesitated, he told them their belief was not strong enough. They buried their suspicions and did as they were told. Then a form of sexual harassment that came close to violence took place, the victims say.
There were weird scenes at the meetings of the sect. The founder held his arms up and preached passionately. He led the group in the hymn, “Over the mountains through the deep vale.” He hiked with believers in one scene, and danced and sang with them in another.
People who belong to the sect strongly defend their religion, saying that we must not condemn the messiah who is saving the world just because of stories from a couple of people. As this organization became more controversial here, the founder of the sect has been outside the country for eight years. Followers still defend him.
Is it true that the messiah of this era is condemned to wandering over the mountains and through deep vallleys, due to a couple of people’s false accusations?
In general, religious sects thrive in shadows while being condemned by established societies and religions.
In this era of knowledge and information technologies, some still seem to be captivated and enslaved by delusion and confusion.
Two hours before the TV program was aired, there was a news report that President Roh Moo-hyun gave an impassioned four-hour lecture at a meeting of his supporters, called the Participatory Government Evaluation Forum.
Among the audience, there were celebrities here and there. They cheered when the president appealed for something, attacked the media, criticized a presidential hopeful’s pledge to build a waterway and said one of the Korean leaders is the daughter of a former dictator, although he immediately covered up that remark.
The president even asked: “Am I a comedian? Why do you keep laughing?”
The people laughed all the time and they were enthusiastic. The audience applauded the president’s frank remarks and gestures.
The JoongAng Sunday reported the lecture in great detail. The article said that the president attacked the opposition party, saying, “It is horrible to imagine what it would be like if the Grand National Party assumed power,” and staged a four-hour one-man show.
When the president complained that the Constitution prohibits him from having debates, the audience applauded.
He attacked the media and said he felt most proud of his media policy. He evaluated his own administration and said that he thought of himself as a world-class president.
The reporter wrote that the lecture was like a religious gathering or a launching ceremony for a presidential campaign.
This column has 750 or so words. President Roh is said to have written a speech 32 times longer than this column. He said he had lost sleep for a couple of nights to write the script.
Why did the president sacrifice so much and take the adventure while putting aside more important state affairs?
No other presidents, no matter how bad they may have been, attacked presidential hopefuls as openly as President Roh has done.
Even the military regimes did not attempt a war against the media, promising to streamline press rooms.
In 2004 with the general election nearing, President Roh made a remark in favor of the ruling party and the National Election Commission ruled that he violated the law, which led to his impeachment later.
He must be determined to break established customs in politics and common sense with his well-prepared scenario.
If he did not have this goal, he probably would have not gone ahead with his adventure.
President Roh has his own way of setting an agenda. He emphasizes conflicts and division and makes them even worse in a bid to gather his supporters.
By pushing for a media policy to streamline press rooms, he spreads the idea that the media oppresses him, not the other way around.
He makes it look like he is a world-class president, but politicians, including the presidential hopefuls of the opposition party who are accustomed to old political customs, oppress the participatory government.
The haves who pay wealth tax, the privileged class who went to prestigious schools and the conservative dailies ― namely the Chosun Ilbo, the Dong-A Ilbo and the JoongAng Ilbo ― attack the outstanding political leader who reforms and saves this world pushing him into a corner.
That was the theme of the four-hour one-man show.
*The writer is a senior editorial advisor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kwon Nyong-bin