Frustration and poor decisionsThe British are embarrassed at the unintended effects of their choice to leave the European Union. Outbursts of their regrets about the decision, as perfectly exemplified by the hashtag #WhatHaveWeDone on social network platforms, explicitly show them. The farce primarily originates with a chain of misleading slogans of conservative politicians, but voters are not free from responsibility either.
The “scare marketing” was in full bloom, both by those who wanted to stay in the EU and those who favored leaving. The latter in particular fueled Britain’s anti-immigrant sentiment by pointing to a feared stampede of millions of Turks in 2020 when Turkey joins the union, despite the miniscule possibility that Turkey will be an EU member by then. The “remainers” also should be held accountable for the bad data they based some arguments on.
It is not normal for a country to choose an isolationist path in the 21st century. The turn of events owes much to a critical lack of rationality stemming from their antipathy towards globalization. In that sense, the results of the vote can be boiled down to a revolt against the existing order, instigated by political elites who tried to take advantage of the anger and frustration of the underprivileged. The concentration of wealth — and the widening income gaps — after door-opening and borderless free trade has triggered the bad decision. If Brexit leads to a shrinking of the British economy and a loss of jobs, those who enthusiastically supported Brexit will be the first victims.
The polarization of wealth is not an issue in the U.K. alone, as can be seen by the roaring “Occupy Wall Street” movement shortly after the financial meltdown in New York in a “1 percent versus 99 percent” battle and the outlandish campaigns led by Bernie Sanders and The Donald, who got 9 million more votes combined than Hillary Clinton in the primary elections.
Korea is no exception. The discontent of those in their 20s and 30s with no jobs and houses is on the brink of explosion. The tragic death of a 19-year repairman on the subway testifies to the endless deterioration of generational schisms and the ever-widening gaps between full-time employees and part-timers.
President Park Geun-hye pointed out the gravity of harsh external conditions and ordered national strategies to cope with them.
Responding to the repercussions of Brexit is important. But the government must pay heed to the deepening public exasperation. We hope it can address it through a spirit of co-governance.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jun. 28, Page 30