Progressives need an Americano

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Progressives need an Americano


I love the aroma of coffee in my kitchen and living room. So the first thing I do in the morning is put a filter in the coffee machine, fill it with a spoonful of ground coffee and make a fresh pot. My day begins with a cup of coffee. Reading a newspaper with a good cup of coffee in the morning is one of the pleasures of my life, and I do not want to compromise the moment.

My appreciation of coffee began in Paris. When you order coffee in a Parisian cafe, you are served espresso. I would say “un cafe” to a waitress and she would bring me a shot of espresso in a tiny cup. At first I thought it was bitter, but I soon got used to it. Upon returning to Korea, I purchased an espresso machine to replicate the coffee I enjoyed in Paris, but I could never get it right. Nowadays, I use an espresso machine that takes single-serve capsules.

The Unified Progressive Party is in the middle of a coffee controversy. Last weekend, former Deputy Secretary General Paek Seung-wu, who was a core member of the former party leadership, posted criticism of former co-chairman Rhyu Si-min on the party’s Web site. “Rhyu Si-min and lawmaker Sim Sang-jeong drink Americano before the party meetings, and I wonder how they can relate to the workers and people when they have to have Americano to have a meeting,” he wrote. It sounds as if the coffee they drink is a symbol of American imperialism, and the people who work for the workers and the populace should keep away from Americano. His imagination is amazingly creative.

Caffe Americano is a style of coffee prepared by adding hot water to espresso, a practice started by American soldiers in World War II. Although it is called Americano, it doesn’t have much association with being American. It is just a matter of preference. Just as I like strong espresso, some people like Americano.

If you want to start a fight, you need to choose the right battle. When people say, “Do the progressives have to always drink traditional Korean tea?” or “Does instant coffee represent progressive and Americano symbolize exploitation?” Paek changed the point of his argument, claiming he was addressing the authoritarian behavior of having the secretary fetch coffee.

Rhyu is unwilling to give up his choice of coffee, saying, “You live your life only once and wouldn’t it be a little sad if you have to miss out on this small pleasure?” Progressives who reject Americano are not true progressives. Progressives are ultimately working for the happiness of humanity. Lack of creativity is a problem, but too much imagination is not desirable, either. I am concerned about the future of the Unified Progressive Party.

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

by Bae Myung-bok

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