[Outlook]Constitution deserves legal holidayJuly 17 is Constitution Day. From this year on, Constitution Day isn’t a red day on the calendar. The day is still a national holiday but not a legal holiday.
It isn’t just that I feel sorry that we have to work on that day. It feels like the meaning of the day when the Constitution was established was tarnished, just as the color of the day has been changed on the calendar. Constitution Day is still one of the five major national holidays, along with Independence Movement Day, National Liberation Day, Hangeul Day and National Foundation Day.
But as Constitution Day is no longer a legal holiday, the people feel it less important among other national holidays. One can’t shake off the idea that the reason for the change has something to do with reasons for the country drifting away these days.
In a cabinet council meeting in June 2005, presided over by then Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan, it was decided to remove Constitution Day from the list of national holidays from 2008 on. As the business sector thought there were too many legal holidays, the cabinet adjusted legal holidays and national holidays. But why Constitution Day? It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence.
Then President Roh Moo-hyun didn’t hesitate to say “the stupid Constitution” and there was an atmosphere to disrespect the Constitution and to be skeptical about the legitimacy of the Republic of Korea. These may have been the background to make the decision.
This year is the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Korea and from this year, Constitution Day, the basic ground for the establishment of the country starts to be disrespected. Some may say it is not a big deal because the day is not a legal holiday, but it is still a national holiday.
However, there is a huge discrepancy in how the people feel about the day from when it is simply a national holiday from when it is a legal holiday as well. Why should there be national holidays and legal holidays separately?
The purpose is to make people forget some national holidays in their everyday life. When a national holiday is also a legal holiday, people feel it in daily life. But when a national holiday isn’t a legal holiday, people tend to forget about the day and the meaning of it.
After several years, Constitution Day will probably be forgotten in the people’s minds. It is hard to understand that the day when the Constitution was established isn’t a legal holiday when Christmas and Buddha’s Birthday are.
This should be corrected in order to remember the meaning of the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Korea and to revive our country.
It isn’t simply to have one more holiday when we don’t need to work. In order for Koreans to acknowledge the values of the country, all Koreans should cherish the Constitution which was a cornerstone of the country. They shouldn’t forget the importance of it.
At least one day a year, Koreans should remember the day when the Constitution was made and the country was able to exist thanks to Constitution day. Constitution Day must become a legal holiday again.
The country is in chaos. When things are like this, we need to go back to basics found in the Constitution. Sixty years of Korea’s history was the history of ordeals for the Constitution. Now, even the day when the Constitution was made is about to be forgotten from our daily life and memory. We must not abandon Constitution Day.
On Feb. 25, Kim In-sik, who was one of the lawmakers who established the Constitution, died at 95. Now, none of the lawmakers who established the Constitution on July 17, 1948, are alive.
However, the Constitution continues to live. Constitution Day must become a day for the people to think about our principles once again. The country must be reborn from the basics with principles. Making Constitution Day a legal holiday is the first step.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chung Jin-hong