[Viewpoint]I have a dream? Not hereRecently, a craze for King Jeongjo, Joseon’s 22nd monarch, is sweeping the country.
As soon as the KBS drama “Hansung Byeolgok: Jeong,” which described the last phase of King Jeongjo’s life, ended, the MBC drama “Isan,” which recounts the life and times of Isan or Jeongjo, began to make a splash. In addition, the cable TV drama “Jeongjo Assassination Mystery, Eight Days” is increasingly gaining popularity.
People’s interest in King Jeongjo goes far beyond the boundary of TV dramas.
The film industry is at the forefront of maintaining the popularity for Jeongjo, by planning two or three films about him.
The musical industry is also poised to join such efforts.
The publishing industry frenzy over King Jeongjo has reached a peak, as shown by the recent release of humanities books, novels, and children’s books concerning Jeongjo.
The craze for King Jeongjo in cultural circles has received diverse reactions. King Jeongjo was born as the son of crown prince “Sado Seja” (1735-1762), who died in tragic circumstances, and had no chance to be enthroned.
He was targeted by assassination plots by rivals throughout his entire life. The analysis that his dramatic life in itself is an interesting story sounds persuasive.
However, why is the eighteenth century monarch reincarnated now, out of the blue? If we answer the question, we need to first look at the reality in our society. The progressive monarch Jeongjo, who embraced developed foreign civilizations and was actively engaged in driving forward revolutionary policies, is what we dream of in an ideal leader.
In short, Jeongjo mirrors our own dream.
It is high time for us to cultivate more realistic dreams, as the presidential election lies right under our noses.
Elections offer a window of opportunity for us to join efforts in designing the future of our country in close collaboration with the political leaders and parties.
Now is our happiest moment, as we are able to make a direct choice among visions that presidential aspirants are fiercely competing to provide, with the view to lead Korea’s development in a future-oriented manner.
During an election period, politicians, who usually reign over people, beg for votes and serve their master, the public, faithfully.
However, a glimpse at the current political spectrum shows that we cannot even conceive the idea of dreams and hopes.
The political field in the runup to the presidential race has been a desolate battlefield, with all the dreams already gone.
People are keeping a close watch on the investigation results of the prosecution, as a leading presidential hopeful is harassed by a variety of scandals.
Additionally, other candidates are only devoted to organizing unification procedures as a way to gaining votes.
Deplorably, another presidential aspirant has yet to announce public pledges due to his sudden announcement to run for the presidency a month before the election.
With the lack of a policy battle, childish debates over allegations and political calculations just focusing on advantages and disadvantages seem rampant these days.
Candidates are laying aside their duty to envision our shared future with great care; instead, they are absorbed in the matter of who will grasp power.
Recently, media sources commenting on the presidential election said, “The political field is in turmoil.”
If we reflect on it carefully, we seem to be in a pitiful condition. It may be interpreted that politics is aggravating people’s concerns even further and rocking our future to its core, rather than engraving our minds with dreams and hopes.
Twenty days ahead of the election, it is high time that candidates conduct fierce debates on public policies designed for the development of the country, drawing on their morality and leadership.
This upcoming presidential race might be interesting to people, but does not offer people an opportunity to have a dream.
The president-elect should make an apology to the Korean people, whoever will be elected with the words, “I extend my sincere apologies for breaking your dreams.”
*The writer is a visiting professor at the Donga Institute of Media and Arts and a cultural critic. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Kwak Han-joo
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