A word of caution to pro-Park defectors

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A word of caution to pro-Park defectors


About six months ago, I had a conversation with a lawmaker that got me thinking about blind submission to power. The lawmaker said that he had run into a fellow lawmaker in the corridor of the National Assembly Members’ Office Building. He was told, “When are you coming aboard? You should show your allegiance before it’s too late.”

The other lawmaker was a member of the so-called “pro-Park” faction. Now that six months have passed, there must be more such “defectors” in Yeouido who are turning away from President Lee Myung-bak in his final months in office in order to support his rival, former GNP Chairwoman Park Geun-hye.

Politicians are not the only ones shifting their support to Park. It’s hard to estimate the exact number of leaders in various fields, including professors, high-ranking officials and retired generals, who have decided to accept her preeminence. It is almost as if they are like vassals to a king, following mindlessly along with whomever will give them what they want.

In the Joseon Dynasty, it was only natural to call yourself a vassal of the king. You were not, however, allowed to call yourself a vassal of the crown prince, as it was considered an act of flattery aimed at the future king.

The goal was to prevent the ministers from undermining the incumbent monarch and pleasing the prince.

Of course, there were exceptions. During the five years that King Sejong was ill, Prince Munjong oversaw the affairs of state for the king and in 1447, King Sejong ordered the ministers to render service and homage to the prince. But the ministers protested the order.

First Vice Minister Ha Yeon and First Deputy Minister Park Jong-wu tried to persuade the king that, just as there could not be two suns in the sky, there could not be two kings for the people. But King Sejong did not change his mind.

Unfortunately, the tradition in the monarchy cannot be applied to modern day. Yet, we should consider how the wisdom of our ancestors could apply to our current situation.

For a while now, officials have been reluctant to take positions at the Blue House because it is near the end of an administration. When the Blue House had trouble selecting a replacement for the head of the Presidential Security Service, it considered promoting someone from within, but the current staff was too young and inexperienced.

Retired generals were considered, but most of them have already defected to the pro-Park faction. In the end, the Blue House had to pick someone with a police background.

There is nothing wrong with calling yourself a vassal of Park Geun-hye if it is to make the country better. But while mindlessly following the trend of Park’s dominance, you may miss other important factors.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Noh Jae-hyun
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