[Viewpoint]Open foot, insert mouthIn 1825, the Decembrist Revolt occurred in Russia right after Nicholas I assumed the throne. The Tsar mercilessly suppressed the rebels, who demanded a constitutional monarchy, and their leader Kondraty Ryleyev was sentenced to death by hanging. However, when the hanging occurred, the rope broke.
The poet said, “In Russia, they do not know how to do anything properly, not even make a rope.” The accident was considered an act of God, and a pardon was customary. Tsar Nicholas was about to sign the pardon when he asked what Ryleyev said after the rope broke. The messenger told him about the poet’s remark, and the Tsar said, “Well, let the contrary be proven.” Ryleyev was hanged again the next day, and this time, he was not so lucky.
In 2008, we can find a case like Ryleyev’s in Korea.
I am sure you can guess who it concerns before I say the name. He has a special talent for making trouble even on the most quiet day. The moment he opens his mouth, we have controversy. Since he took a ministerial position, not a single day has gone by without trouble. It seemed that he was going to make up for all his lost points with a currency swap agreement with the United States, but not surprisingly, he ruined the moment with another slip of the tongue.
Maybe his remarks resulted in so much controversy because he was too passionate and eager.
I do not doubt his claim that he considers his job his last chance to serve the nation. He said he has not rested a single day and has been devoting himself entirely to face the waves that threaten to submerge the nation’s economy. When his mother passed away, he stayed up all night at the funeral and met with economic organization heads the next day.
When he condemned banks for being blinded by profits such as charging fees and encouraging exporters to excessive hedge currencies, the criticism was not so groundless, especially considering the small and midsized companies hurt by Knock-In Knock-Out products.
It is understandable that he came to equate the currency exchange rate with sovereignty.
Two decades ago, when the minister was working at the Korean Embassy in the United States, he witnessed Japan reluctantly signing the Plaza Accord with the United States, which resulted in a bubble economy. He has been condemned for wasting $23 billion from the reserves to stubbornly meddle with the international currency market.
But frankly, the fact that he does not know the price of pork belly should not lead to personal attacks and probes.
Making mistakes can be a virtue. If you keep a low profile and remain passive, you won’t make mistakes. Maybe that’s why he feels he’s being treated unfairly. He is frustrated that the mistakes he made while working so hard were condemned and derided. However, the problem is that the waves he created through inappropriate comments are bigger than the ones he claims to have met with his everything. His tongue brings disaster because he when he verbalizes the idea that polarization can be found in any country, it comes out “polarization is a trend of our time.”
Finally, he scored big with a comment that could possibly jeopardize not just himself but also the Constitutional Court. He made a dent in the court’s decision on the aggregated real estate law. We cannot afford wasting national resources and energy on an investigation that will turn into a political contest. The timing could not be worse as the crisis in the real economy is expected to crunch Korea.
The more you spare words, the more valuable they become. If you are in charge of a country’s economy, you should calculate the impact of every single word.
You cannot speak on the spur of the moment and take it back later. The minister himself has said that recovering confidence requires not words but performance.
Pop artist Andy Warhol never explained his works and made puzzling comments at interviews. But people found profound meaning in his art. As a result, soup cans became a pop art classic. He told a friend that he realized you can have power when you remain silent.
I hope the minister of strategy and finance takes a hint from Andy Warhol.
If he spares his words, he may save not only himself but the citizens of this country as well.
*The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Lee Hoon-beom
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