For politicians, what’s in a name?

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For politicians, what’s in a name?


“Saenuri? Are they creating ‘the world of the birds?’ They want to make a sanctuary for migratory birds!”

“Why are you so upset?”

“They must have bird brains. Is that the best they can come up with for a new name? They even received suggestions from the public. It is really pathetic.”

On the day that the Grand National Party was born again as the Saenuri Party, a taxi driver was venting to passengers. The new name created buzz on the Internet, Twitter and Facebook all day long. Everyone had an opinion on the branding exercise.

Some sneered that it suited a pet or a preschool. Others suspected that the name must have come from an ardent Christian. One cynically said it would be more straightforward to call it the Saenunim Party, or New Sister’s Party. A whole lot of people felt that the word “nuri,” which the ruling party says refers to “world,” could also be interpreted as “to enjoy.” Hence, Saenuri may signify a new round of enjoying power for the ruling party.

The spokesperson of the Saenuri Party said that idea was to create a new world, a new Republic of Korea. When a new owner takes over a house, she renovates the place completely and has the right to change its name. People are criticizing the name because they didn’t like the Grand National Party in the first place. The name is not important. The key is how solidly the house is built and who lives inside. If you paint a pumpkin green, it doesn’t become a watermelon.

The world is changing, and the party’s political agenda may change. Nevertheless, the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom is still the Conservative Party, and the Labour Party is still the Labour Party. Both the Democratic and Republican parties in the United States maintain their names while modifying their directions according to the times. Korean political parties keep disbanding and reorganizing, anchored by certain political figures.

In Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” people are provided with the drug soma, which makes them content. The first clause of the party policy of the Saenuri Party is the “happiness of the citizens.” We don’t care if they call themselves the New World Party or Old World Party as long as the party is not totally dedicated to the election of a certain politician but is rather a lasting organization with constant values.

The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Bae Myung-bok
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