Can Lotte brothers speak of safety?One of the most interesting parts of the Lotte family feud was Shin Dong-bin’s news conference. In addition to the rivalry between the brothers, the support of the father, mother and uncle and Lotte’s management structure, I was curious how fluent Chairman Shin Dong-bin is in Korean. I couldn’t help but think it was strange that the Korean brothers who head one of the largest conglomerates in Korea could be so terrible in Korean. I am surely not the only who thinks this as footage from the interview with Korean subtitles was aired all day, showing him slur, “I have utmost respect for my father.”
It is not the first time I have paid attention to other people’s proficiency in speaking Korean. When crewmembers of JTBC’s “Nonsummit” appeared on JoongAng Ilbo’s internet television, I was curious if the Italians and the Germans spoke Korean fluently. On the show they spoke fluent Korean with a slight accent. It was amazing to see an Egyptian, Ghanaian, Pole, Greek, Norwegian, Brazilian and a Nepalese chatting in Korean.
While each of them has different reasons and circumstances, they all agree they learned the language because they love Korea and its people.
The Lotte brothers’ command of Korean made me think they like making money in Korea but may not be very fond of Korea or Korean people.
In the past few years working as a national news reporter at JTBC, I covered a series of accidents and controversies at Lotte World II. I found Lotte’s lukewarm attitude strange, but I needed to verify if they prioritized Koreans’ safety. As well as accidents in construction sites and sink holes in the area, the safety at Seoul Air Base, 5.5 kilometers (3.4 miles) away from Lotte World II should be addressed.
I began investigating the situation after a reserve Air Force general tipped me off that fighter pilots were worried about Lotte World II. While Air Force insiders raised the possibility of Air Force planes crashing into the building and claimed the skyscraper should be no higher than 203 meters, the Lee Myung-bak administration approved construction of the 555-meter-tall tower. Instead, the runway in Seoul Air Base is tilted by three degrees to avoid the danger.
However, specialists in Air Force issues have argued the modification would not be enough to completely remove the risk, and Lotte did not provide further explanation as the project was already approved.
I served in the Air Force and know how valuable each pilot is. Combat flight is already full of unexpected situations, and even a veteran pilot may confuse the sky and the sea and get into trouble. When abnormal signs are detected from Dokdo Island to the five islands in the West Sea, they risk their lives and fly to protect Korean territory.
Can Lotte assure them that there is no added safety concern?
The author is the digital news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 13, Page 38
by KANG JOO-AN