[Viewpoint] Where patriotism beginsIs there anyone we can trust in this country? Did you put all your savings into a mutual savings bank because it promised an interest rate of at least 1 percent higher than banks? The owners of these so-called banks squandered our savings. Who ever thought banks could turn out to be dens of thieves? The financial authorities whose job was to supervise them were all in on it. Betrayed and enraged, we cast our votes to elect candidates who promised to fight for our rights and interests. Imagine out bewilderment to discover they used to do espionage work for North Korea and believe the impoverished hermit state to be some kind of ideal paradise.
We turned to religion since there is little comfort in this greedy and dog-eat-dog world. But we were shocked by video footage showing monks gambling, drinking and smoking. Some are accused of womanizing. We have to wonder whether other monks were unaware of the sins of their peers.
We have to wonder if politicians who struck an alliance with certain liberal activists were truly unaware of their past pro-North Korean activities. We wonder if the bank supervisors were ignorant of the bank owners’ unsavory pasts. It is hard to believe they were. And if they weren’t, why didn’t they do anything? They were rewarded with bribes for turning a blind eye to the proclivities of our fraudulent bankers. Some joined hands with spies to win votes and gain power. Some valued secular authoritative posts more than the faith and practices of the Buddhist faith to which they dedicated their live. So tell me, whom can we trust in this country?
Even if a sect is corrupt, Buddhism doesn’t perish. The economy doesn’t crumble just because the mutual savings banking industry goes into insolvency. There will always be others to replace them. But it’s a different problem if the fundamentals of the state start to erode. Everything ends when a country ceases to exist. Why would pro-North Koreans want to become lawmakers? Why do they stubbornly resist resigning from the National Assembly despite demands from both the public and their party after being caught rigging the primary that gave them their seats? It is because they have the grander ambition of destroying the country?
What have intelligence officers and prosecutors done? They say they lack the resource and capabilities because most spy experts were kicked out during the Kim Dae-jung administration. And what about the current conservative government? Was it too busy spying on its rivals and ordinary Koreans who dared to criticize the president?
The state has the primary role of defending the country and its system. After the horrendous Nazi rule, Germany stated in its Constitution that it does not tolerate any form of totalitarianism. Few free democratic states allow anti-democracy political parties. Germany prohibits the use of Nazi symbols, its salute and publications praising Adolf Hitler. Hitler’s autobiography and his political manifesto “Mein Kampf” can be purchased in other countries and on the Internet, but remains banned in Germany. Few Germans complain or disapprove. They agree that any danger to their democratic system should be kept at bay.
The North Korean regime can hardly be claimed to be less evil than the Nazis. The devastations North Koreans have inflicted on this land, race and history have been as heinous. But in this country, critics of North Korea and its system are sneered as narrow-minded and judgmental. As Germany bans anything related to Nazi, we too should prevent proliferation of the Juche (self-reliance) dogma, the ideology of founder Kim Il Sung. If we had such containment, followers of the ideology could not have dared to sneak into the National Assembly.
Who has made this country so soft? The liberal governments of past presidents, Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, have watered down the dignity of this country on the excuse of working for unification. Our system may not be ideal. But we should not be led to believe a different nation will arrive upon reunification. The liberals talk of love for the country. But they may have been pledging love for a state in their heads, not the country in which they live today. If they did, they should have recognized and respected the pain, joy, shame and pride of this nation. Liberals and conservatives therefore should compete within the boundaries of Korea and its set of rules. That is basic patriotism and respect for this nation.
Liberals criticize this nation and defend North Korea. They refuse to sing the national anthem or salute the flag. I know a person who was once a pro-North Korean activist who gave up his belief after returning from North Korea, disillusioned by the true nature of the regime. But the opposition party members joined hands with people with espionage associations even though they clearly were aware of their pasts.
Evil always reveals itself. The corruption of the monks and the genuine faces of the pro-North Korean politicians were exposed. The National Assembly must pass legislation to prohibit any pro-North Korean forces from political activities. A handful of pro-North Korean forces cannot undermine the fundamentals of this nation. Because there are more of us who are determined to defend it.
* The author is a senior columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Moon Chang-keuk