[Viewpoint] A pig who changed historyThe flow of history changes its direction when it meets an unforeseen and unintended occurrence. It could be an event or a person. In the 64 years of Korea’s electoral history, two notable men made accidental changes. The first was Lee Jeong-yeon, the son of Lee Hoi-chang, and the second was Kim Yong-min, a co-host of podcast “Naneun Ggomsuda” or “I am a Petty-Minded Creep.”
Lee Jeong-yeon was about to enter a PhD program and shed some weight to evade compulsory military service. If it weren’t for this blunder, his father, Lee Hoi-chang, would have been elected president in 1997. Five years later in 2002, Kim Dae-yeop, a broker for illegal waiver of military service, exposed the case, and Lee Hoi-chang’s ambition to enter the Blue House was frustrated once again. If Lee Jeong-yeon hadn’t evaded mandatory military service, Kim Dae-yeop wouldn’t have made the headlines.
A young man lost a few kilograms without much contemplation, and it changed the modern history of Korea. Since the foundation of the republic in 1948 through 1998, the country had been ruled by the conservatives and the rightist. But the conservative camp had to hand over power to the progressives and leftists because of the son of a presidential candidate. Historically, the background for regime change had already been prepared. The conservative leadership under Chun Doo Hwan, Roh Tae-woo and Kim Young-sam were completely corrupt. In 1990, politicians ignored the will of the public and merged three parties. The merger of the three parties was a sinful act that divided the country into two. Regionally, the Yeongnam and Chungcheong regions joined forces to corner the Honam area. Ideologically, the conservatives colluded, which is the “original sin” of the conservative and rightists.
Lee Jeong-yeon set fire on the fuel of the original sin, and it led to ten years of the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations. Lee Jeong-yeon was a savior to the progressives and leftists, while the conservatives and rightists want to forget those painful memories. Because of Lee Jeong-yeon, the conservatives were branded as a group that does not practice noblesse oblige. Ten years of the progressive administration prevailed as the conservatives sunk into despair.
The April 11 general election was a very important election. It is highly possible that the fate of the Korean Peninsula will pitch and roll in the four years of the 19th National Assembly. The conservatives were in a poor position a few months ago. As Lee Myung-bak has failed, the conservative were actually about to hand over power to the opposition once again. If the opposition camp had taken the majority of the assembly, the conservatives would be drastically weaker, even if they won the next presidential election. At this critical juncture, another savior came along.
Kim Yong-min’s role is more dramatic than Lee Jeong-yeon’s. After the public furor over the raunchy, sexist jokes in his past, he could have left his race for the National Assembly, shown some tears and retreated to a prayer center with his pastor father. Had he done that, history may have been different. Probably the election would have ended with an opposition victory as predicted.
However, Kim chose just the opposite tack. He cried in a video clip and pledged he would atone for his mistakes all his life. But in reality, he was trying to strike back. Three days before the election, he appeared at a “Naneun Ggomsuda” (“I’m a Petty-Minded Creep”) rally at the City Hall Plaza. His supporters performed group gymnastics to create the letter “Jo,” which is part of a curse word. Kim Yong-min held a parade with other hosts of the popular podcast. One of the members went up to the podium and hurled insults, pointing in the direction of the Blue House. Kim Yong-min was standing next to him.
Politically, Kim Yong-min prevented the progressives and leftists from seizing power in the National Assembly. Culturally, he prevented the clowns of “Naneun Ggomsuda” from taking permanent possession of the main public stage. Socially, he proved that Korean society still values courtesy and propriety. Metaphorically, as the podcast host likes to say, he has proven that the silent lambs are more powerful than noisy pigs.
Kim Yong-min calls himself “Current Affairs Pig” and “Foul Mouthed Pig.” Pig has become a nickname for him. But in Korea’s history, a pig has never played such an important role. The pig attempted to dress up as a member of the National Assembly. And the Democratic Party was hijacked by Kim.
The conservatives may feel that ten years was too long a time to pay for the sin of Lee Jeong-yeon. But history has taught an important lesson. Mistakes and failures require contrition and repentance. How long will the quiet lambs penalize the loud pigs? Four, five or even ten years?
*The author is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Jin