We’ve seen this script beforeA weird movie filmed in a fuzzy and confused way has been playing for a week now. Its star is former journalist and presidential spokesman Yoon Chang-jung. The audience finds it so gripping that it has forgotten what kinds of hanbok President Park Geun-hye wore in her first official trip to the United States. Their attention is entirely focused on whether the movie’s star in a hotel room scene is wearing his underwear or is naked.
Putting together the various descriptions of the sexual assault case in Washington - including the Blue House’s and Yoon’s own claims - a bizarre scene emerges. A naked Yoon is scolding a 21-year-old female intern who arrived at his hotel room at dawn: “Why are you here?” the leading man says. “Leave quickly!”
Since it’s a movie filmed in an overseas location, a subtle difference in nuances of the words is also a feature. Yoon said he simply patted the intern on the waist in a bar, so the audience concluded he merely grazed the young woman. But a U.S. police report on the incident says he allegedly “grabbed her buttocks without her permission.” The audience now has to wander through a thicket of English vocabulary, including the terms “waist,” “hip” and “buttock,” and “grab,” “snatch” and “grope.” If we ever see another movie of this kind, there won’t be a need for the Korean audience to prepare for the Toeic test.
Actually, Korean society has an idea of how this movie will unfold. It’s seen similar movies in the past. Yoon said, “I am not that kind of a person” and “I had no sexual intention at all.” But the Korean audience reads the messages in exactly the opposite way. Many politicians’ defenses have made the steady evolution from “I don’t know that person,” to “There was no exchange of money,” to “There were no bad intentions involved.” And countless of them ended up in jail.
Senior presidential public relations secretary Lee Nam-ki, Yoon’s immediate supervisor, said “I don’t remember” when asked about the details of who ordered Yoon to return home from Washington - before the Washington police could arrest him. The audience remembers so many people involved in scandals who insisted they had no memories of the incidents.
But now the movie is taking a dangerous turn. Instead of the Blue House worrying about the people, the people are worrying about the Blue House. Yoon is blaming the presidential office for throwing him under the bus, while the Blue House is poised to bury him alive by leaking his R-rated initial testimony that he wasn’t wearing underwear at the time of the encounter with the intern in his hotel room.
The audience is starting to feel uncomfortable. It’s wondering if a second or third Yoon will pop up suddenly. The media, which has known Yoon for more than 20 years, said they knew he was going to create a scandal sooner or later. They were only surprised it was sooner and was bigger than they had anticipated.
During the controversy surrounding the National Assembly’s confirmation hearing of Oceans Minister-nominee Yoon Jin-sook, many said the president should dump her because she was unqualified. A Blue House official gave a very surprising response. “I feel like she was brutally attacked because she didn’t have a pretty face. If she were as pretty as Gender Equality and Family Minister Cho Yoon-sun, would Yoon have faced such harsh attacks?”
President Park needs to learn a lesson from her predecessor. When protests against Lee Myung-bak’s decision to reopen the Korean market to the U.S. beef imports flared, Lee summoned Kim Doo-woo, his political affairs planning secretary, to his office, not the presidential chief of staff or the senior political affairs secretary.
“Should the presidential chief of staff need to resign or should I fire the prime minister?” Lee asked.
“Are the protesters heading toward the government complex or the Blue House?” Kim asked back.
Lee immediately reshuffled the Blue House secretariat, including his first chief of staff Yu Woo-ik.
President Park favors straightforward pitching. No matter what other people said, she insisted on her choices when making appointments. As a result, seven nominees dropped out during the confirmation process, and her first appointee, Yoon, is now starring in an X-rated B movie.
“A Message to Garcia” by Elbert Hubbard has sold more than 100 million copies. It’s the ninth-most sold book after the Bible, “Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong” and “The Lord of the Rings.” “It is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is the true test,” Hubbard wrote in the book. As we watch Yoon’s tawdry movie, Korean society is coming to have doubts in Park’s “ability to discover ability.” That’s a fatal wound for the highest leader of the country.
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Lee Chul-ho