Continuing their legacyOn March 1, the unified determination for Korean independence that shook the Japanese aggressors 78 years ago was nowhere to be seen. Rather, there was another division going on the southern part of the peninsula; on one side of Gwanghwamun Square, candles glowed, and on the other side Taegukgi flags waved. This schism also emerged in family reunions and peer debates. My family was also drawn into this consumptive battle; last November 19, I attended the demonstration asking for the impeachment of then-President Park Geun-hye, and this past March 1 my grandmother held the flag in support of Park.
Ultimately, a decisive victory for the anti-Park group was proclaimed on March 10; Park was impeached by the unanimous vote of eight Constitutional Court judges. Afterward, the defeated Park supporters used violence as a means to protest. Three of its male members died in “noble” causes to protect “their princess” and to prevent democracy from being devoured by “North Koreans Sympathizers and Reds.” All of a sudden, my determined will for the preservation of democracy and eradication of political corruption became a sign of socialist advocacy from a commie.
Some of the Park supporters claim that protecting Park is a way to defend the legacy Park Chung Hee made during the Yushin Regime. Of course, Park Chung Hee’s leadership in bringing the “Miracle on the Han River” is admirable (though his dictatorial, autocratic rule and the atrocities perpetrated on the democratic protesters should be condemned and forbidden). However, in the era when rationality and logic are emphasized, kinship cannot be served as a pretext to protect the corrupted daughter.
Considering the Choi Soon-sil scandal and other political corruptions Park Geun-hye committed, it is undeniable that she is just living in her father’s fame, and even deteriorating his legacy and reputation. Plus, even if the father and daughter are inseparable from each other, what we must never forget is that the elders brought prosperity to the state and realized the “Miracle on the Han River,” not solely due to any single individual. The impeachment of Park is a step to continue the spirit of Korea — the promotion of our fatherland and continuation of the democratic development.
I am always thankful to my grandparents, who worked in Germany for overseas economic aid, served in the military to protect this republic from external aggressions, and ran markets, believing that they could make a better situation for their sons and daughters. Impeachment did not deny those efforts, but rather further advanced this nation our forebears strove to defend and to make a better place to live for their descendants. Continuing the spirit of democratization and a better-tomorrow, the candle remains high as a sign of resistance against a corrupt former president and an unscrupulous administration.
*A student at Hankuk Academy of Foreign Studies.