[Viewpoint] Korea’s useful idiots

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[Viewpoint] Korea’s useful idiots

Who’s an idiot? Someone who thinks that Chong Wa Dae (the Blue House) is a college (O.K., you need to know that “dae” also means university in Korean).

Or how about this one? An idiot thinks that a Mongol banjeom (the Mongolian spot birthmark) is the name of an ethnic Mongolian-Chinese restaurant (banjeom can also mean Chinese restaurant in Korean).

Then there are the parents who still think that the husband of their daughter-in-law is still their son.

And finally a joke about the ignorance of history and language among today’s youth. The recent film, “71: Into the Fire,” tells of the epic and tragic story of 71 teenage soldier trainees who were suddenly thrown into battle against the seasoned North Korean army when the war broke out in the summer of 1950.

Although the movie didn’t do well at the box office, the screenplay and performance by the actors, including rapper T.O.P. from the group Big Bang, was praised by movie critics.

When his movie performance was discussed on the Internet, he was referred to as “T.O.P hakdobyeong (student soldier).” But someone posted a comment asking, “What disease does T.O.P have?” since byeong also means illness in Korean.

I broke into bitter laughter when I read this comment.

It is a common expression among stock investors that those who bet on share prices to rise are known as going “long” on the market, while those who bet on a fall in share prices are “shorting” the market.

To stretch this market concept further, if we all desire the best for our country, we are “going long,” by betting on the uptick of Korea Inc. and the country’s progress.

But there will always be those who want to take a “short” position. The North Korean regime can be one. They employ various methods, including vicious physical attacks such as torpedoing a naval ship, to cut the value of South Korea.

More dangerous are those who straddle positions, seemingly going “long” when they are actually going “short.”

I would like to ask those who still talk of a conspiracy surrounding the Cheonan sinking despite international condemnation, what position they hold in reality.

My heart sinks on witnessing a local civilian group sending a letter to the United Nations Security Council accusing its government of manipulating a case in which 46 sailors died and of disguising the truth. And I’m shocked at a pastor for openly praising the Kim Jong-il regime while in Pyongang.

I wonder why they have to appear going “short” on Korea, when most of the population is “long” on the country.

I hear that some lecturers on the Internet make money under our market economy by earning popularity among students because they ridicule the South Korean system. One lecturer told her students that the army is where they teach men how to kill.

Hypocrites who “short sell” their country with their contempt have been mocked as “useful idiots” by Lenin. That’s another joke about idiots.

This all goes to show that we need a radical shake-up of the education system to properly teach the younger generation about our country’s identity. For instance, Internet lecturers should be given basic teaching guidelines and subject to media screening by authorities.

Yesterday was the day we celebrated our country’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule that led to the establishment of the Republic of Korea. We cannot let our future generation sell “short” on their nation. I sincerely hope there are no more of these disheartening idiot jokes.

*The writer is a professor of business administration at the University of Seoul.
Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Yun Chang-hyun
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