Time for unity, not divisionIn a March 1 Independence Movement Day address, President Moon Jae-in said that red-baiting is a relic from the Japanese colonial period that should be removed from Korean society. The word “bbalgang-yi” (referring to people and ideas relating to communism) is still being used as ideological weaponry to attack political opponents, he said.
Our society is in agreement that Korea must erase remnants of the Japanese colonial era. Even if the word originated from Japanese authorities to clamp down on Korean independence fighters, we are baffled why the president had to emphasize it during a televised event on the day that also marks the centennial year of the independence movement. The word has long become a bygone.
Some ultra-conservative supporters did make the chant during the national convention of the conservative Liberty Korea Party. But the word is restricted to ultra-rightists and is hardly used by anyone else.
Korea has become severely divided due to a widening wealth gap on top of generational and regional conflicts. The liberal administration has fanned fissures by drawing the line between the good and bad and by rejecting many of the deeds from the conservative governments as “past ills” and wrongdoing that must be ousted like former president Park Geun-hye. The two conservative presidents as well as the Supreme Court chief justice are behind bars. President Moon publicly criticizing a very small group of rightists can offer grounds for further provocation for the conservatives.
The country desperately needs to move forward through unity. Moon had promised to show politics of fair play, not conflict. He must act out his promise to achieve social unity.
The March 1 Movement united the people from all corners to fight for their rights and country. Gender, ideology and class did not matter in the common front of standing up against Japanese oppression. The purity had gained international attention and support for Korea’s independence movement. The same united power must be the new force behind all Koreans for their next 100 years.
JoongAng Sunday, Feb. 2-3, Page 30