[Letters] Time to become mature citizens

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[Letters] Time to become mature citizens

The recent news that a Korean activist hurled a lump of concrete at the Japanese ambassador, Toshinori Shigeie, at the Korea-Japan Future Forum came as a shock. The action itself was a serious violation of diplomatic courtesy, and the gravity of the assault seemed more severe because the case involved the Japanese ambassador.

Japanese people burst out in furor and condemned South Koreans for the uncivilized act of violence on a diplomat. The assault itself was shocking enough. However, greater shock came when I happened to read Internet comments on several portal sites.

Much to my expectation, hundreds of comments were posted on news articles dealing with the event, and in anticipation of severe condemnation against the uncivilized act of violence, I started to read the comments.

Unfortunately, my naive anticipation was betrayed by hundreds of comments praising the assault of the Japanese ambassador.

A netizen claimed that “it was the biggest achievement in Korea-Japan relations in the past few decades.” The majority of the opinions hailed the attack as “an act of great patriotism that was lost for the past decades,, with even some likening the activist to Ahn Jung-geun.

It was very disappointing to see that people have allowed their personal dislike of Japan to dominate their rational thinking, leading them to compliment the blatant diplomatic misconduct. It is time to become mature citizens. Looking at the comments on the Internet, it seems hardly the case that the Korean people have grown as responsible and mature global citizens, able to raise Korea’s standing in the international community.

The blatant violation of diplomatic custom should not be beautified as “patriotism”, the true meaning of which the commenters on the Internet seem to have forgotten.

True patriotism in the current international community cannot be conveyed through uncivilized violence. The international mechanism of communication has shifted to peaceful diplomacy with full respect to every nation, whether it be Japan, the United States, or any other nation around the world. Violence only acts to diminish a nation’s image and standing in the international arena and create diplomatic frustration.

It is important to think rationally, especially when it comes to diplomacy and foreign relations. Rational and mature citizens should not allow their personal dislike of a certain nation to permeate their speeches and conduct regarding that nation.

The assault of the Japanese ambassador by the activist surely deserves criticism, and the history between Korea and Japan should not shroud people’s rational thinking.

In the current international community, violence is nothing but the product of unjustifiable irrationality.


Im Tae-ho,

freshman at Sogang Business School
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