No place for vandalism of any kindVandalism refers to willful or malicious destruction or defacement of public and private property as a demonstration of anger and hatred for other cultures, religions or beliefs.
Such acts of disgruntlement often take place during riots. A society is insecure and dangerous if vandalism becomes widespread. It can jeopardize the foundation of a democratic society in which differences and mixed cultures must coexist and be respected.
Vindictive smear behavior is becoming viral both online and offline, raising concerns about the spread of vandalism in our society. A note violently attacking novelist Lee Oi-soo was found on the cover of his new book in a bookstore in Seoul. A similar malicious note was found on a book written by Chung Dong-young, a senior member of the main opposition Democratic Party. Well-known liberal names like Rhyu Si-min, former health and wealth minister, and Moon Jae-in, former DP presidential candidate, also became targets of nasty notes at bookstores.
Ideological vandalism that mostly remained in cyberspace is recently being acted out blatantly in real life. Some extreme conservative websites are orchestrating and championing these systematic vindictive acts online and offline.
In a democratic society, anyone is free to choose what they wish to see and hear. If they do not like what they see and hear, they can simply ignore it. But going so far as to leave a nasty note on a publication written by an author they do not like demonstrates extreme hatred toward views and beliefs they disagree with.
This antagonistic behavior is not limited to conservatives. Liberals are equally hostile and excessive in criticizing and attacking opponents. Even in disagreements and conflict, decency and civility must be upheld to maintain a healthy society.
This year has been unusually contentious, with few scenes of peace and bipartisanship on the political front. Society is losing respect for unity and coexistence. Blind criticism and antagonism toward opponents undermine a sense of community and instead build unhealthy apathy and cynicism. We must all be aware that words and actions hurting and discounting others could always come back at us and taint our democratic society.