[Viewpoint]A bad case of white lies

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[Viewpoint]A bad case of white lies

It happened at a chicken farm in Goesan, North Chungcheong toward the end of July. An eagle owl broke into the farm and left 600 chickens dead.
One or two chicken would have been enough prey for an eagle owl, so why did this happen? The chicken were scared to death and crowded to one corner of the cage, stepping on and killing others underneath.
An eagle owl is scaring Korean society to death these days. The prey are people who falsified their educational backgrounds. The eagle’s hunting ground is the Internet, newspapers and television. The names of new victims are added to the list every night.
Names of well-known people such as Shin Jeong-ah, Kim Ok-rang, Shim Hyung-rae, Yoon Suk-hwa, Chang Mi-hwa and Ji Kwang, a Buddhist head monk, are on that list.
As a series of witch hunts started to attract public attention, the police and the public prosecutors’ office joined the ranks of the eagle.
The reactions of the chicken have changed, too.
Instead of suffocating to death from fear, the number trying to find a way out by making “declarations of conscience” is increasing. Anyhow, the role of the eagle owl until now has been positive.
The Korea Research Foundation, which keeps the academic records of Korean scholars who received degrees from overseas educational institutions, is receiving an increasing number of calls from scholars asking whether their records of overseas degrees can be removed from their personal information.
It is also said that an increasing number of people listed in “who’s who” databases are demanding that media outlets and Internet portals correct or delete records of their academic degrees or professional careers.
As soon as an eagle owl was let loose, the seemingly fair sailing Grand National Party became an instant wreck. It fell into a state of panic, just like the chicken on the farm. The name of the eagle owl in this case is “verification.” It preys on the lies of presidential candidates.
It started with questions: Isn’t the actual owner of a piece of land in Dogok-dong candidate Lee Myung-bak? Didn’t Reverend Choi Tae-min’s family have a close relationship with candidate Park Geun-hye?
Needless to say, small white lies without bad intentions are not a problem even for political leaders. This also applies to a politician whose popularity is declining.
Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu once announced he received letters of congratulations from the queen of Great Britain and the kings of Spain and Sweden on his 70th birthday.
Though nobody actually sent him any congratulatory letters, International society only laughed at him for being so absurd, but did not make an issue out of it.
The case of former United Nations Secretary General Kurt Josef Waldheim is quite interesting. It was revealed that he kept his career in the Nazi German army a secret when he became a candidate in Austria’s presidential election.
Waldheim said, “I was not a Nazi. I swear I never did those things.” But his lies became an issue during the presidential race. However, Austria, a country with strong anti-Jewish tendencies, elected him as president. It was international society that made his lie a problem. After he was elected he became a pariah who could not visit the United States, Europe or any other country.
Politicians who tell lies do not necessarily fail. Just like Waldheim, Richard Nixon was suspected on many accounts by the people, but he was elected to the presidency.
Presidential candidates of the Grand National Party can also be elected president if they manage the suspicions that they lied well. In that case, being elected may be a personal success for a candidate, but it will be a misfortune for the nation.
The candidate may feel he or she is treated unfairly, but once a suspicion enters the public’s consciousness, it leads to mistrust of the president and of the government.
Waldheim had to give up running for re-election, and Nixon had to step down halfway through his second term. This is the reason why the candidate who wins in the primary election should work on dissolving suspicions rather than managing them.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kim Du-woo
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