Slaughterhouse RohPresident Roh Moo-hyun called college presidents to the Blue House yesterday to deliver threatening words. He said if colleges do not follow the guidelines that the Education Ministry has created there will be “corresponding measures.” The discussion was supposed to be an occasion for the president to listen to school heads, but he maintained his aggressive stance despite vigorous attempts by the college heads to point out some faults in his guidelines. It was uncivilized of Roh to then mock and threaten the country’s leading intellectuals after shooing them into a corral, just as farmers might do with cows destined for the slaughterhouse.
President Roh habitually says he wants to have an honest, one-on-one debate. But he has never had a proper debate with anyone during his term. At the beginning of his administration, which he dubbed “The Participatory Democracy,” he called in young prosecutors for a debate. But it ended with him asking them in a threatening tone, “So is this how you speak to your president?” Since then, he has proved that he can never debate without his title out front and center.
The debate yesterday was held after the government effectively forced the college presidents to attend. The Education Ministry even ushered in those who had other commitments. That’s how the government summoned them, and the president refused to listen to any opinion that ran counter to that of his government. To those school heads who expressed different opinions, Roh made cynical comments designed to embarrass them.
“You people have succeeded in life. A successful person should not behave as you do,” he said. He continued, “People expect policies will change if the administration changes, but don’t expect this policy to change.” Roh must think he is a divine being who can rise above the limits of his term.
What’s more worrying is that for a president Roh speaks in a way that is hard to believe.
He thinks that letting a competent person take an important post destroys the hope of achieving equality. Moreover, he mocked important posts as being just “armbands.”
The term “armband” derives from a tragic time during the Korean War. The Communists back then passed out armbands to mark common people as a powerful new group, as a way of diminishing people in positions of authority. Because Roh suddenly mentioned the “armbands,” his words seemed very threatening. Does he mean that he is not satisfied with the system now? Or does he want to overthrow the establishment altogether?