Podcast shock jock dishes on DUP loss, what’s next for him

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Podcast shock jock dishes on DUP loss, what’s next for him


Kim Yong-min Political satirist

Kim Yong-min, the liberal producer who is now known as a political satirist, was considered a fresh face when he was nominated by the Democratic United Party to run in the April 11 legislative elections a year ago.

However, it didn’t take long for Kim to fall from grace and be accused of ruining the election which at the time was swinging toward the DUP.

Being one of four co-hosts of the now-defunct political satire podcast “Naneun Ggomsuda,” or “I’m a Petty-Minded Creep,” Kim was a potent candidate who was assured victory in the Nowon A District, northern Seoul, where liberals typically earn more votes than their counterparts.

Kim and his three other peers satirized and raised all kinds of allegations against the Lee Myung-bak government and the ruling party.

Each episode of the podcast was downloaded as many as two million times and had a cult following, especially from the younger generation critical of the conservative administration.

Kim’s transition from a preacher’s kid to TV-radio producer to political commentator to would-be politician didn’t work out, though. His past comments boomeranged back to him and caused his fall.

Of his many problematic comments, Kim suggested Korea should “kill President [George W.] Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and rape and kill Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.” The comments were made nine years ago when he co-hosted another podcast.

His past comments stirred controversy during the general election, and some say his vulgar comments played a decisive role in turning voters away from the DUP.

A year has passed from the April election. The JoongAng Ilbo recently sat down with Kim.

Q. Your name was practically everywhere, from TV to newspapers to the Internet, about a year ago. Was that difficult?

A. I tried to endure (all the attention that was given to me) during the election period, but when the results came out, I thought to myself ‘Now I’m dead.’ I couldn’t do anything. I had no choice but to coop myself up in my house for three or four days.

Did you feel guilty about the DUP’s defeat?

Yes, I felt guilty. A newspaper article came out from the Kyunghyang Shinmun shortly after the April election and the headline said I was responsible for the loss of a couple of seats to the leading [conservative] party.

After the April legislative election, some analyzed your over-the-top comments as one critical cause for defeat.

Three DUP nominees ran for elections in A, B and C districts of Nowon, and I was the only DUP nominee who failed to secure a seat among the three. That’s my fault.

Do you think it was the wrong decision to run in the general election in the first place?

I used to tell people I would never, ever run in the election, but Chung Bong-ju, a member of “Naneun Ggomsuda,” was imprisoned [for spreading false information about President Lee Myung-bak]. We thought it was the Lee government’s attempt to stop Chung from running in the election. We needed to show we had more people to replace him, which is why I was chosen for his constituency. But it turned out I was the wrong person for politics.

Do you have anything to say about your problematic comments?

I really didn’t mean ‘rape and kill Rice.’ I wanted to make people think of things the U.S. Army did to its political captives. But I don’t want to keep making excuses. I apologize for what I’ve said. The remarks were against plain common sense.

Then why didn’t you quit halfway through the race?

I thought the best thing I could do back then was complete the race.

Tell us your plan with Kukmin TV. Is it a different version of “Naneun Ggomsuda,” or “Naggomsu”?

“Naggomsu” wasn’t an official news outlet, but Kukmin TV functions as a broadcasting station which delivers real news. It has established a cooperative federation and there are about 6,000 cooperative members so far. My goal is to develop it into an organization with about 20 full-time reporters. It is not the second version of “Naggomsu.”

But you’ve been delivering biased news.

[Iconic liberal politician] Rhyu Si-min wrote in one of his books that “you can achieve fairness when you are partially fair, but you can’t achieve fairness when you are one-sidedly fair.” News about the retirement home of the former President Lee is an example. Major broadcasters didn’t deal with the news in the beginning, but they began to handle it in this way: “Democratic United Party insisted. Saenuri Party and the Blue House refuted. Both parties argue over it.” This is a biased way of delivering news in the name of fairness. That’s why I jumped into this business to produce fair news.

Before the presidential election last December, you and other members of “Naggomsu” raised speculations about then-presidential candidate Park Geun-hye, such as her link with a cult religious leader for 20 years and Park conducting a shamanism ritual which cost her 150 million won ($131,682). It was quite obvious that members of the podcast were rooting for Moon Jae-in, a candidate from the opposition party. Moon also appeared on the podcast before the presidential election and your podcast companion Kim Ou-joon hosted the event which took place on the day Moon announced his candidacy.

I would admit that we have our own political orientation, but it doesn’t mean that we’re working for a certain candidate. Do you think we would say to each other ‘Let’s do a podcast to make Moon president’ before recording.

You and other members of “Naggomsu” have been fighting against the Lee Myung-bak administration and the leading party. But the opposition party lost. Based on the logic of “Naggomsu,” how come the vicious Saenuri Party won?

[A long sigh.] That was the big question that confused the 48 percent of us [who voted for Moon.] I assume a majority of people still want an imperialistic leader. Since many people who have power are not still judged, people probably want to have a strong leader. I’m trying to find out the answer.

A bout a month has passed since the launch of the Park administration. What do you want to see from Park?

I wish the Park administration good luck. The Lee Myung-bak government was motivated by individual benefits. But I don’t think the Park administration will do the same thing. It is a huge change and development in itself.

By Kang In-sik [so@joongang.co.kr]
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