An issue of greed
The author is a senior columnist at the JoongAng Ilbo.
Cho Kuk is greedy. He is greedy about everything in life — power, honor, money, his children’s success and the wealth of his family. His method is graceful and clever. His behavior is a persistent repetition of hypocrisy and violation. Cho’s enemy is himself, and it summarizes duplicity.
The drama of greed is written with language. He captured and refined language. President Moon Jae-in’s inaugural speech said “equal opportunity, fair process and just outcomes.” The phrases coincide with Cho’s phrasing. He is a progressive icon and it is an accomplishment of language.
Cho is the face of the democracy fighters in the 1980s. Their conscious system has dichotomy. They are a gang that divides enemies from allies. The same goes for language. They are cruel and dismissive to the conservative right wing. Cho said that the flies needed to be beaten until they beg.
His language approached the agony of the young generation. “Scholarships should be need-based, not merit-based,” he said. But his daughter was an exception. He said that not everyone needed to become a dragon from a stream. He gave nihilism to the rivals of his daughters. He worked by expedient and circumventing methods and now he falls from the peak. Popular disdain spreads. Anger at him and his privileged daughter is spreading fast.
Greed stimulates the instinct of the prosecutors to dig into suspicions. The desire is proportional to the prey. Cho is the center of Moon’s power. “Moon’s other self” is a distinguished reputation. Cho’s family’s private funds are dirty. Power is about jealousy and checking on each other. The justice minister and public prosecutor general have a subtle tension. Public Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl’s instinct is working. He is investigating into the allegations against Cho. Yoon caught Cho by the neck. He learned the details of Cho’s naked face. The search and seizure is a protest against Moon. The message is simple — it is a demand for the withdrawal of the justice minister nomination.
Moon is a mystery. The flag of the national administration is ripped. It has changed to the opposite of what he championed before — now it is an unequal, unfair and unjust society. It is because of Cho’s dirty duplicity. But Moon does not talk about Cho’s issues. He remains silent. Moon’s stubbornness is well known. And this lack of communication has been added to the mix. Stubbornness has now been fixed as Moon’s image. It is the dark side of the Moon administration.
Why is he stubborn? Why does he adhere to Cho? What profit is he hoping for? Is it Cho’s product value? An election is about making a new structure. Cho’s Busan origin is a victory element for the left. Cho was born in Busan. Moon’s will and direction is to build a country that nobody has experienced. It can only be achieved with law and order. I suspect it includes the abolition of the National Security Act and laws related to inter-Korean economic community. What use is Cho here? It is what many people suspect and guess, but surely his product value has fallen. He cannot be useful any more.
The other side of greed is cleverness and brazenness. His rhetoric is cleverly continued. Cho seems to have put a spell on himself. “I hope all allegations are clarified in the prosecutors’ investigation. The prosecutorial reform must not be hindered by allegations.” The symmetric language is aimed at confusing the situation. His words make Yun an interferer of reform. He wants to bring his supporters together.
Greed produced this national learning effect. It is a breakdown of the leftist language. The democracy fighters are used to the language of justification, morals and reform. The language reinforces social vested interests. Right-wing conservatives are intimidated by such words. The “Cho Kuk Effect” removes the gap. The right-wing conservatives established a trench of psychological counterattacks. “Let’s see how activists are just and fair.”
It is the irony of the Cho Kuk Effect. It works as a changing point in the ideological dispute. The Cho Kuk Effect gave the young generation pause to think. It is a reaction of betrayal and debridement. To them, the group of democracy fighters of the past is now seen as a leftist establishment.
Cho’s greedy drama is an intense reversal. Games of power and truth are simultaneously in progress. The issues are tangled and divided. Democratic Party head Lee Hae-chan added tension by denouncing search and seizure. “It is unprecedented that no consultation is made with related agencies for media coverage. It confuses the country more.” Lee’s expression of discontent is aiming at Yun. It reflects Moon’s intention. The foundations of power are shaking. Cho refuses to resign because of the trust of Moon. How persistent is Yun’s game? Can he go all the way to drag out Cho? Many people are reminded of his conviction: “I am not loyal to anyone.”
We are at a turning point for Moon’s power. Will the president go on to appoint Cho? Will he give up and follow public sentiment?
The end of the drama is President Moon’s choice. Many people scream, “Don’t look down on Korea.”
JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 29, Page 31