[Viewpoint] Double-standard visionA few days ago, I ran into an acquaintance, who is a Korean War veteran, at a gym in my neighborhood. He is still very interested in Korean affairs. He said that he has a great attachment to the country that he had fought for when he was young.
As soon as he saw me, he approached and asked, “I heard that when two Korean schoolgirls were hit and killed by a U.S. military armored vehicle, downtown Seoul was filled with demonstrators denouncing the United States. But how come no rallies denouncing North Korea were staged in Seoul after the sinking of the warship?”
He also mentioned all the commotion over mad cow disease and Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) two years ago.
The probability of a South Korean citizen dying from the human vCJD after consuming beef imported from the United States is said to be one in 100 million.
In spite of the astronomically small chance, Gwanghwamun suddenly turned into a haven for candlelight protestors for more than a month. However, you cannot find candlelight protestors in Gwanghwamun these days.
Does that mean that the probability of North Korea being the culprit behind the Cheonan sinking is smaller than one in 100 million?
The Korean War veteran is not the only one who is frustrated at South Korea’s current situation. The average American cannot begin to comprehend the absurd thinking of South Koreans.
How can people who were so furious at the deaths of two schoolgirls respond so calmly and cool-headedly to the sacrifice of 46 seamen?
How can those who are so harsh on the U.S. forces, who fought a war alongside South Korea, be so generous to the North Korean military, which invaded and continues to provoke their country?
How can those mothers who brought their infants to protest a one-in-100-million chance be so unstirred by the threat from North Korean submarines in the West Sea?
Those who despised the United States and displayed fondness for China seem to lack insight. China used to be so friendly and act as if it would do anything for South Korea, but when a friend is actually in jeopardy, it calculates its interest before offering any help.
China is busy lining its own pockets by taking advantage of the situation. As the old saying goes, a friend who helps in difficult times is a true friend.
Since when have South Koreans had such weird logic? Maybe we have been deceived by the ruling class and social leaders since the military regimes. If you look farther back, the deception began in the days when Korea was occupied by imperial Japan.
There was a time when a North Korean threat was the ace of the authoritarian military regime. It was only seven years ago that a movie based on the Silmi Island Incident was made.
However, times have changed. South Korea has evolved into a completely different society.
Everyone claims to have expert-level knowledge on stem cell research since the Hwang Woo-seok affair.
We all boast that we know everything about mad cow disease, probably better informed than the World Organization for Animal Health.
The brigade of 100,000 Internet aficionados are so persistent and investigative that anyone who creates controversy has to expect his or her whole life and privacy disclosed. Fabricating the Cheonan incident to win the local elections amounts to a gamble that only the most absurd mind could devise.
It is about time we correct the weights that have tilted the balance. We have been through both the right and the left, so we can now estimate where the center is. As tragic as the accidental deaths of the two schoolgirls at the hands of the U.S. military vehicle were, the sacrifices of the 46 crew members should not be handled lightly.
Samsung Electronics recently introduced a 3-D television that requires special glasses. The glasses alternately darken one side, and then the other, and this alternate frame sequencing allows viewers to watch 3-D images. If you close one eye, the image is distorted.
Likewise, if you look at the world with just one eye, it will look crooked.
*Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
The writer is the New York correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Jung Kyung-min