Appearance of guilt

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Appearance of guilt

The shocking remarks made by ruling Grand National Party lawmaker Kang Yong-seok make us wonder whether he deserves his job. At a dinner on July 16 with about 20 of the participants in a national university debate competition sponsored by the National Assembly, Kang allegedly said, “The debates judges actually do not listen to the debates. They just look at the faces of the participants.” Half of the debate participants were female.

Kang’s remarks amount to sexual discrimination. But there was more. To a female college student aspiring to become an anchorwoman, he allegedly said, “You have to be prepared to go all the way. Can you still do that?”

A female student who was present at the dinner said: “His remarks gave an impression of sexual favors in return for career advancement. I felt very uncomfortable listening to him, and you can imagine how upsetting it was for the girl he was talking to.” His dirty remarks didn’t stop there. To a female collegian who visited the Blue House last year, he said, “At the time, the president only looked at you. If the president’s wife was not there, he probably would have asked for your phone number.”

His actions are deplorable and we are shocked that he could have such a twisted sense about gender and such a dismissive view of women.

A slip of the tongue can mean the end of a career. In 2002, Trent Lott, then the Senate minority leader, said at a party celebrating Senator Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday that if Thurmond had become president, “we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years.” Thurmond was the Republican Party’s presidential candidate in 1948 and he on a platform of “racial segregation.” Lott explained he had made his remarks at a private dinner without special meaning attached, but in the end he resigned.

After Kang’s remarks created a stir, he reacted as if he hadn’t done anything wrong. But Kang has a history of inappropriate behavior: in 2008, he posted a controversial essay titled “Sexy Park Geun-hye” on the ruling party’s Web site, in which he wrote: “Park is a virgin with a slim body, and many married men must have marveled at the perfect arch of her waist.”

Again, his remarks reveal that he’s putting physical appearance above all else.

We believe the GNP should thoroughly investigate what happened at the dinner last week.

This is not the first time that ruling party lawmakers have been involved in a case involving sexual discrimination. If the allegations about Kang’s remarks are proven true, the GNP should not only expel him from the party but also make a public apology.

And in that case, we also hope that Kang will have the decency to resign.
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