Avoiding the candlelit road

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Avoiding the candlelit road


Korea sits at a strategic crossroads of time-consuming disruption and conflict. The National Assembly has become a battleground as opposition parties refuse to accept the government’s draft bills for reforms to the economy, media and social order. As the media labor union went on strike, an ideological war began with the active participation of progressive civic groups.

Rather than looking objectively at the facts, society is fraught with populist phrases such as “Lee Myung-bak’s evil bills,” “civil dictatorship,” and “law for conglomerates.” Some people are even concerned about the re-emergence of the candlelit rallies that paralyzed downtown Seoul along with the nation’s rationality last summer.

At this juncture, we need to look back on the recent decision by the Constitutional Court surrounding the mad cow disease conspiracy theory. The progressive lawyers’ group Minbyun filed a constitutional petition saying that the import of American beef threatens of the lives of the public, supported by almost 100,000 claimants. The Constitutional Court revealed in its ruling that the government has devised an appropriate and effective measure to protect the people’s rights, and rejected the petition. The fury over mad cow disease proved to be a fabrication that threw society into utter confusion.

Of course, the government has made mistakes in negotiations and policy making. Thus, the president offered an apology. Yet the government learned an invaluable lesson on the importance of communication, and the import conditions for beef have become much stricter.

The point was, however, that some people disregarded science and rationality and exaggerated the superstitious dangers of mad cow disease. Progressives attacked the Lee administration and conservative groups. MBC and naive social groups were manipulated by Internet stories. Violent rallies caused severe damage to the police, journalists and citizens, amounting to a loss of nearly 4 trillion won. ($3 billion).

It is our understanding that the draft bills of the government and the Grand National Party do not show an inclination toward irrational ideology. Easing of regulations on the separation of banking and commerce will help the economy recover, and the media reform act is in line with global trends. The revision on the demonstration act involving a ban on wearing of masks was designed based on lessons learned from the last candlelit rallies. The issue of wiretapping by the National Intelligence Agency may be resolved by negotiations between the ruling and opposition parties.

However, opposition forces recklessly insist that these are “dictator-led, evil laws.” Must we once again live through a candlelit nightmare?


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