Park Geun-hye has questions to answer
Spitting on someone’s grave is an extreme act. Someone must have done something horrendous to deserve it. Yet we increasingly face heinous ideas every day that may make all of us want to spit. It doesn’t result in physical harm but expresses extreme disgust.
Spitting on someone’s grave is an act beyond simple retaliation or contempt. It is a symbolic move that proclaims that while you may be dead, you’re certainly not forgiven. French writer Boris Vian’s “I Spit on Your Graves” is a story of an African-American man who seeks vengeance after his brother was murdered for dating a white girl. The 1978 film “I Spit on Your Grave” is also a story of revenge. After being raped by a group of men, Jennifer Hills kills the rapists one by one. Considering the heinous crimes in the novel and the film, the characters are getting revenge on the offenders who deserve to have their graves spat on.
But when spitting is not about a heinous crime but politically driven, it becomes more complicated. President Park Chung Hee used to tell reporters, “Spit on my grave.” Journalist Jo Gab-je, who investigated the life of Park thoroughly, used the famous quote for the title of his book. Some respect President Park while others despise him. Making a parody of Jo’s book “Spit on My Grave,” Jin Jung-gwon, who belongs to the latter group of critics, wrote “I Will Spit on Your Grave.” Jin, a master of cynical criticism, wrote a satire of how the successors of President Park spat on the grave of the late leader. “Once upon a time, there was a frog who wore dark sunglasses.”
Park Geun-hye, the presidential candidate for the Saenuri Party, recently made an appearance on a radio show. “My father said, ‘Spit on my grave’ because he was so concerned for the country. I think his words imply everything.” When the host asked her how she evaluates the May 16 coup and the Yushin Restoration, she said she would let history be the judge. Some may read a timeless sense of calling and decisiveness in President Park’s “spit on my grave” comment, while others feel appalled by it.
But just as Park Geun-hye said, what’s important is not the past, but the future. Many people are curious about how a presidential candidate feels about a former president, not how a daughter feels about her father. If elected, Park Geun-hye would have to take an oath that begins with, “I do solemnly swear before the people that I will faithfully execute the duties of the presidency by observing the Constitution.” So if voters are curious about how she feels about the suspension of the Constitution and declaration of martial law, she should not be stubborn and arrogant and say, “Spit on my grave.” On these questions, Park herself, not history, must provide answers.
* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Noh Jae-hyun