[Viewpoint]Bubbles all over YeouidoIn the film “Gone With the Wind,” Scarlett O’Hara, played by Vivien Leigh, goes on a long journey back home. She arrives to find her husband leaving her, her child had died, and Tara, her family’s plantation, in ruins. Still, O’Hara says to herself, “After all... tomorrow’s another day.”
But in reality, many people fear the morning. At least they can forget about things while they are asleep. The Korean novelist Lee Wae-soo said, “Only those who have had their hearts bitten by the teeth of despair can hunt hope.” However, the teeth are too sharp. It hurts as they sink in.
How have the past few years been for many people? Has it been a tasty- looking wild apricot, a snake wearing silk or a pig wearing lipstick? As the bubbles disappear, are the true natures of the apricot, snake and pig revealed?
The financial crisis that is shaking the entire world must be the bursting of bubbles.
Regardless of individuals, society or nations, the bubbles of greed and irregularity are all bursting. Perhaps we can be born again stronger if we get rid of the bubbles properly, as we did during the financial crisis 11 years ago.
The place with the most bubbles in Korea is probably the political world. First, there are bubbles of philosophy and ideology. In European cities, there are usually back streets behind large squares. Most lawmakers are “the people of the square” who establish themselves in the back streets and then come out to the square. The back streets treat the “square people” well with taxes paid by the people, but the methods are different in each country.
In Parliament in the United Kingdom, lawmakers sit so close as to touch each other’s shoulder, as if sitting in a train on the London Underground. The prime minister sits in the middle and stands up to reply to questions.
Conditions are a little better in the Japanese Diet, but it is not spacious either. Japanese city councils in rural areas are like elementary school classrooms. What about the Korean National Assembly? Each legislator has a lot of space and each desk has a computer. In the front are large screens that look like those at a Hollywood awards ceremony. If the U.K. Parliament is a subway train, the Korean National Assembly is a deluxe car on the KTX.
Since the National Assembly was built that way, I do not wish to complain about the space. However, shouldn’t the people of the square who are treated so well by the backstreet people have a sense of indebtedness? Such a sense is needed even more in times like these when the lives of people are extremely distressed.
Nevertheless, the National Assembly is still caught in the bubbles of political warfare. There were more than a few assemblymen who tried to personally execute inspections of the administration. However, the inspection conducted by the National Assembly faltered because of its backward nature and obsolete idea that lawmakers have to fight against their rivals whenever there is a political issue.
One opposition assemblyman criticized public figures who were appointed by President Lee Myung-bak, saying, “Ministers and vice-ministers are President Lee Myung-bak’s subordinates.” Did he forget about the row over parachute appointments in the Roh Moo-hyun administration? The meeting turned into a riot because of his words.
The meeting of the Assembly’s Committee for Culture, Sports, Tourism, Broadcasting and Communications was stalled for hours because police were posted at the venue for the committee’s annual inspection in case of emergency.
The popularly elected education inspector who is also called the chief executive of educational administration went to the hospital instead of the Assembly’s annual inspection behind the excuse of high blood sugar. Perhaps he was afraid of being questioned on scandals related to his election fund.
Nobody goes into a rage at a U.S. congressional hearing. Witnesses are also diverse, from secretaries and working-level officials to civilians. Government and opposition parties do not sit facing each other. They ask questions and reply calmly. In such an atmosphere, former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan admitted past mistakes, and a Moody’s Investors Service employee made his declaration of conscience.
No matter how wrong someone might be, lawmakers do not insult a cabinet secretary, saying that he “sold his soul,” in front of his subordinates. There is no bubble in U.S. congressional hearings.
The 20 days of confusing inspections at the National Assembly ended the day before yesterday. Yet the National Assembly says it will question the government for five days at the beginning of next month. These are bubbles that are hard to understand.
The inspection of the administration, hearings at standing committees and questioning of the government at the plenary session are bubbles of repetition. If small committees overseeing each field are activated, they will be actually helpful to state affairs, but the National Assembly does not listen. The practical needs of people’s lives are screaming for release from the bubbles covering Yeouido.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Jin