The depravity of society’s ‘leaders’

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The depravity of society’s ‘leaders’


Too frequently these days, we catch the so-called leaders of our society committing lewd acts. I, like many others, am repulsed to see the label of “leader” being applied to such people. I often wonder if there is anyone left in this world we live in today who is fit to be called a leader. But if the label is used for people who have professional knowledge and virtue, who have gained power and influence through extensive effort, and who teach others, then the term may not just be a relic from times past.

Let’s look at the news reports from last week. A professor at a prestigious private university was caught trying to take a photo up a woman’s skirt in a movie theater. He accidently dropped his business card while running away, so his identity was exposed. A pastor was caught filming himself groping a young woman on line 2 of the Seoul Metro. Another man was caught committing a similar crime on a subway escalator and he turned out to be a graduate student of a university of theology.

In Gwangju, four doctors ended up in the police station for kicking a city bus while drunk. Other doctors and traditional medicine practitioners have been charged with issuing fake diagnoses to Chinese people on medical tours.

A judge, already famous for his unusual verdicts and behavior, was caught filling the keyholes of his neighbor’s car with glue and slashing its tires. He was caught in the act by a security camera. Meanwhile, a lawyer in his 40s was arrested for filming a woman working out at a gym.

Today, it’s not news if a dog bites a man, only if a man bites a dog. Last week’s reports likely made it into the headlines because the crimes were committed by people who are supposed to know better. But when we so often see incidents that should be rare, there must be a reason.

First, judges, doctors and pastors are people too, and bad people have always existed in all levels of society. Nowadays, things like the Internet and CCTV ensure that they are caught more frequently, and the days are gone when they could use their influence to cover up embarrassing incidents. And then there are regular people who want to feel the satisfaction of thinking, “You’re not so special after all.”

Second, lowered standards have taken the shine off what were once respected professions. In the past, doctors wouldn’t have dared live anything but a model life because they were afraid of how they would look. But today, things are different. An aspiring elementary school teacher even posted his experience of purchasing sexual services on the Internet.

This shows that the cultural standards that made doctors, judges and professors feel they have to live up to their titles are in decline. In the past, they used to act to protect their good names. But if things continue in this direction, they won’t even start out with a reputation to protect.

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

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