How Korea acts under the influence

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How Korea acts under the influence

There are countless reasons to have a drink. You can drink because you are happy, sad, pleased to see your friend or discouraged. But there are only two reasons not to drink. Either there is no alcohol available or your body cannot tolerate it.

We often say, “Let’s have a drink,” but as far as I know, a party never ends with a single drink. At first, people drink alcohol, but in the end, alcohol swallows the drinker.

Positive reasons to drink include: enjoying a party, having good conversation, having laughs and singing. But when drinkers cross the line, five ugly behaviors appear: getting angry, swearing, beating other people, crying and vomiting. A party begins with ladies and gentlemen, but as the number of empty bottles increases, they turn into singers, dancers, fighters and warriors. A quiet person becomes an eloquent speaker, and a gentle person uses foul language. All of us who have attended parties are well aware that when someone gets drunk, his true face emerges. So let’s consider an example.

Lim Soo-kyung, a Democratic United Party lawmaker, has been in the spotlight over the last several days for making inappropriate remarks after having drinks. She ran into a North Korean defector at a restaurant and called him a traitor. She said: “You are a clueless North Korean defector. How dare you mess with a member of the National Assembly? Shut up and live silently in the Republic of Korea, betrayer!” It is only natural to suspect that she is sympathetic to North Korea given her behavior, so she deserves all the criticism thrown at her by the media and her fellow politicians. Many now believe that, under the influence of alcohol, Lim revealed how she truly feels about defectors. “Soberness conceals, drunkenness reveals,” as we often say, and this doesn’t just apply to high-profile individuals.

Every year, there are more than 360,000 reported incidents involving alcohol. Police struggle with drunkards every night. Roughly 30 percent of five major crimes — murder, robbery, rape, theft and assault — are reported to be committed under the influence of alcohol. And yet despite these clearly negative consequences, Korean society remains surprisingly tolerant of excessive alcohol consumption. When a drunkard uses violence, police only give warnings on most occasions.

Moderate drinking is actually beneficial to health and smoothes out relationships, but drinkers can create problems — especially if they drink too much. In some ways, alcohol is like rain. When it rains on rich soil, flowers bloom. But when it rains on mud, it creates a huge mess.

The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Bae Myung-bok
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