A civilian’s fall from grace

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A civilian’s fall from grace

Prime ministerial nominee Moon Chang-keuk stepped down after his historical views were questioned in media reports. He can now return to a private life, but the controversy - the way a civilian can fall from grace through a defamatory witch hunt in a digital age where false information can turn viral and leave lasting scars - raises some important questions about society.

The Sewol ferry disaster has demanded an overhaul of the national mind-set and its structure. The latest fiasco with Moon has also exposed the shameful and underdeveloped nature of our society. We must draw lessons from this event, too, in order to build and advance.

The incident again underscored our social habit of jumping to conclusions. Rashness often gets in the way of truth-seeking. To objectively assess the former candidate’s historical perspective, the context and content of his controversial address at a church where he supposedly justified Japan’s colonization of Korea as “God’s great plan” must be aired in full. But no one bothered to check. The public assumed the edited version in the KBS report was accurate and labeled Moon as unfit for a leadership role.

The immature way in which Moon was stigmatized should also be addressed. His thoughts on colonization - although debatable - had some logic. People can have different opinions, but that must not be the deciding factor in determining their eligibility. We have a legislative procedure in place to question the integrity of nominees. Moon’s judgment should have been saved until the confirmation hearing and legislative vote.

Why do we have laws and democratic system only to disregard them? The incident sets a poor precedent.

The president and parliament have the authority to name and approve a prime minister. But President Park Geun-hye surrendered the last call on her choice to the public. She has been known for sticking to her guns. But she crumbled against public criticism. The ruling party kept mostly to the sidelines; and the main opposition - which has also endured tough hearings for controversial nominees as the ruling party - joined in the witch hunt.

However, Moon also disappointed many who championed the necessity of his confirmation hearing, because he broke his word that he would clear his name in the verification process. He stated that he was bowing out to relieve pressure on President Park, but it would have been better for him to defend his convictions, if only for the sake of upholding the democratic system he aimed to serve.

JoongAng Ilbo, June 25, Page 30

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