A question of dignityKorea is losing its dignity. In fact, this is nothing new. President Roh Moo-hyun has been acting and speaking imprudently , damaging the country’s reputation. Recently, in a meeting with TV producers, the president used an expression that was too vulgar to be used in an official setting.
In 2002, when Roh formed a committee to take over the presidency, there was extremely fierce competition for media coverage and some media outlets ran inaccurate news reports. Some journalists entered the committee’s office at will. This incident forms the president’s view of the media today, and he wants to streamline the reporters’ rooms in government buildings and limit their news coverage. He is like a person who argues that an elephant is shaped like a pillar because he once ran into an elephant’s leg and that is all he remembers about the elephant. The president seems unaware of how the media has developed in recent years.
Government officials are not much different from the president. When the head of the intelligence agency of a country which is the world’s 13th-largest economy met with a terrorist group, he behaved like a celebrity. He smiled at the whole world when the bodies of two South Korean hostages who had been brutally murdered were barely cold. The intelligence agency negotiators were wearing sunglasses or posing in front of the cameras.
The world must have laughed at that and other intelligence agencies around the world will probably hesitate to trust an intelligence agency which reveals itself so explicitly and seems willing to share confidential information.
The country’s dignity is defined by the dignity of the president and high officials. A minister consulted a presidential candidate, and then suddenly resigned and joined his camp. Those who used to work as journalists at media outlets which were not in the mainstream are shutting down the reporters’ rooms in government buildings. Even the International Press Institute has protested against the measure.
President Roh has made many good achievements. He created a transparent election culture in which candidates do not need to spend huge amounts of money. Corrupt bonds between politicians and businessmen have been loosened. The president stepped closer to ordinary citizens. But these good deeds are being forgotten as the country loses its dignity. This is truly regrettable.
However, the remaining six months of Roh’s presidency still provide him much time to restore nation’s dignity.