[Viewpoint] Calling out the Assembly

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[Viewpoint] Calling out the Assembly

For a political entity to work properly, fair arguments must be heard and the truth must be upheld. If the truth is rejected, and lies and false arguments prevail, the entity is bound to collapse.

The Ancient Greek philosopher Plato understood this well. He said a country must be run by episteme, or a truly intellectual body of ideas, and should not be driven by doxa, or false popular opinions.

His words resonate in Korea today, as groundless arguments gain as much power as if they were the truth, and some intellectuals build up the power of unreliable stories. Even a child would know that North Korea was behind the explosion and sinking of the Cheonan, but conspiracy theories still circulate in our society.

We can ignore the fact that common people are making up tales that the Cheonan was grounded on rocks or mistakenly shot down by our own or U.S. forces. But it’s hard to believe that Kim Yong-ok, one of the most renowned philosophers of Asian studies, publicly declared that the government’s announcement could not convince people at all. While international society accepts that North Korea is to blame for the sinking, this intellectual refuses to believe the truth.

This flies in the face of Plato’s philosophy. According to him, philosophers were the only people who could come out of a dark cave and face the truth of the sun. A joint investigative team of international civil and military experts conducted an objective and scientific probe to present clear evidence. The philosopher Kim perhaps can’t see this. If this is the case, it’s time for him to doubt his own vision, instead of denying the truth.

If this man can’t see what is clear to other experts, he must be color-blind or one-eyed - or simply blind. Why else would he assert that the truth is false instead of blaming his own eyes?

And what is the National Assembly doing as the intellectuals play games with a matter of national security? Our legislature has not even presented a resolution against North Korea. Is this because it also thinks that the government has not presented convincing evidence that the North is at fault?

Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed a resolution on North Korea. International organizations such as the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Organization of American States have adopted statements condemning North Korea. But the very country that was the victim of the attack cannot present a resolution of this kind.

Is this because, as the Democratic Party argues, it’s better for inter-Korean relations if no resolution is produced? Or is it because the National Assembly representatives expect that someday a “revelation” will come out?

Our National Assembly turned a deaf ear when the public cried out in anger. And they continue to be hard of hearing. The country desperately needs the National Assembly to make a decision, but it keeps silent and refuses to budge.

National Assembly representatives are indifferent to the country’s security and they don’t even display a semblance of love for their country. They don’t have the will to uphold the spirit of the 46 sailors who lost their lives while protecting the Yellow Sea. They take no action to protect our country from a belligerent regime. National Assemblymen seem to be interested only in amassing more power for themselves.

Parliaments in other countries condemn North Korea’s belligerence, but South Korea’s parliament is complacent, blind to the fact that its country is decaying from the roots. As long as our leaders play dull, they cannot convince those who distrust the country’s national security affairs, and they cannot prevent further provocations from North Korea, either.

The National Assembly representatives who do not treasure the blood spilled by the Cheonan’s sailors do not deserve to be paid with our tax money. They must not be given another won until they present a resolution on North Korea. It is brazen to take money from our citizens while they cannot avenge the blood of our youths.

The National Assembly is watching the situation as if it involved someone else’s country. If it cannot present a resolution on North Korea even now that the elections are over, it should admit it has no raison d’etre and disband.

As a constitutional institution, the National Assembly has the grave responsibility to present fair arguments to the country. Its members must bear in mind that the people will turn against them if they obsess over political disputes and ignore the truth.

*Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
The writer is a professor at the Department of Ethics Education of Seoul National University.

By Park Hyo-chong
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