Trust, and pride and prejudice

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Trust, and pride and prejudice

I learned that “Pride and Prejudice” was a romantic novel later on. When I first read a passage in an English textbook, I thought it must have been an excerpt from a philosophical novel. I’ve never read the book and only recently understood the plot after watching a movie based on the novel on television. I often cited the title “Pride and Prejudice” over drinks, but I never knew what the phrase really meant.

I only found out later on that it was written by Jane Austen (1775-1817), a widely read and beloved writer. Her delicate writing addressed the issue of women of her time, who were smart but poor. The novel ends on a happy note. The protagonist, Elizabeth, triumphs after confirming the sincerity of Mr. Darcy’s love.

The prolonged tension between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy was caused by their pride and prejudice, hence the title of the book. One of the favorite stories in English literature still resonates with readers 200 years after it was written. The classic has power. The familiar story is captivating, and the reflection of the period and life of the author add to its emotional depth. Readers ruminate over the title and its message.

It would be so nice if we could feel the aura of the classics in real politics. Could politics be familiar yet moving, taking on new meanings as time goes by?

Two and a half years ago, when President Park Geun-hye was elected, many may have had that dream for a while. She was the “president’s daughter who became the president,” and “the first female president of Korea.” She used a big, impressive slogan: “Principles and Trust.” Her supporters were enchanted by it, and hoped that her success story would turn into a classic in Korean history.

But the past two years have defied those expectations. People are confused as to what those principles were and who to trust. Lately, we are faced with an emblematic crisis. Everyone was waiting for the president to comfort citizens struggling with the Middle East respiratory syndrome crisis, but instead, she censured an old political ally for the “politics of betrayal.”

The ruling party trembled absurdly at her roar. To the citizens shocked by her attitude, her cronies say in defense, “The president only cares about the nation and the people,” and that “she is selfless and will surely succeed.”

Their claims are likely true. However, we want to ask when the citizens can see the true capacity of the president they voted for. Will it be written in the history book? Citizens want vivid descriptions and surprising turns that end with a catharsis. Can a book that is not a best-seller in its time be a classic in the future? If she wants to package the title “Principles and Trust” into a classic, she is absorbed by her own pride and prejudice.

The author is a deputy political news editor at JTBC.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 3, Page 34

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