Moon’s ‘God’s plan’ remark backfiresThe nomination of Moon Chang-keuk as prime minister is running into trouble because of remarks he made that called Japan’s colonial rule over Korea and the division of the Korean Peninsula “God’s plan.”
KBS ran an exclusive report on Wednesday evening with excerpts of a speech Moon made at a large church in Seoul in 2011 in which he said that the Japanese colonization of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945 was a trial by God for the Korean people.
“We can protest to ourselves why God allowed this country to be colonized by Japan,” Moon, who was an elder of the church, said in the broadcast segment of his speech. “As I said earlier, God has his plan. You are people who have idled away the past 500 years. You need a trial.”
Likewise, Moon said the division of North and South Korea was part of “God’s plan.” “If perfect independence was given to us, we would have to have become Communist,” he said.
Moon also said, “The Joseon people were characterized by laziness, as I said earlier. Laziness and a lack of a sense of independence.”
He said that the Korean people remained in God’s debt.
The parts of Moon’s speech that were broadcast sparked a backlash against the former editor in chief of the JoongAng Ilbo from both the opposition and the ruling party.
“There needs to be some truthful explanation of his understanding of history,” said Chung Moon-hun, a ruling Saenuri Party lawmaker, at an emergency policy planning committee meeting at the National Assembly. Chung said the broadcast remarks made him question whether Moon “was a Korean citizen.”
Park Young-sun, floor leader of the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, said at the National Assembly, “Yesterday’s broadcast made it hard to tell whether [Moon] is a nominee of the Republic of Korea or an official of Japan’s governor general of Korea.”
A group of six Saenuri lawmakers including Lee Sang-min and Jasmine Lee signed a joint statement yesterday demanding Moon withdraw from consideration as prime minister.
“Nominee Moon’s view of history, regardless of his clarifications, cannot help but be a serious issue,” the statement said. It added that his remarks “leave an even larger scar in the hearts of the people.”
Opposition lawmakers already opposed Moon because of his conservative views and writings in the past. NPAD spokesman Park Kwang-on said Moon’s remarks were “more ahistorical and against the [Korean] people than Japanese textbooks.”
The NPAD also called for President Park Geun-hye to withdraw Moon’s nomination, calling it the worst nomination in the history of modern South Korea.
Moon expressed regret for his church speech, which had been intended for a Christian audience.
But he told reporters that KBS distorted his remarks, which were meant to emphasize Korea’s ability to overcome hardship.
“I wanted to emphasize the potential in our people, who have overcome many hardships in their national history,” he said.
Moon earlier told reporters in front of his home in Bundang, Gyeonggi, on his way to work yesterday, “I do not have plans to apologize for the remarks made known yesterday. ... What is there to apologize for?”
Moon also caught flack for criticizing a gay pride parade that was held in Sinchon, central Seoul, on Saturday. He told a group of Seoul National University journalism students on Wednesday: “A gay parade, why stage such a thing in the streets of Sinchon? ... If people like [practicing homosexuality], they can do it alone at home. Why stage a parade?”
Moon received a doctorate from Seoul National University in 1993 in international relations.
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]