Cho Kuk, the K-drama
The author is an editorial writer at the JoongAng Ilbo.
A modern-day period drama is being aired. The house of the minister of justice was searched by the prosecutors. The minister, his wife and children were accused of a crime. If a television series is made based on this story, it will be very popular. The drama is approaching the climax. It is a cheesy story, but there is a point to watching it. In this drama, there is anti-monopoly, violation and privilege from political and ideological self-righteousness and monopoly. Those who enjoyed the benefits will find the drama devastating, and the common people who are robbed project their anger.
The society is a history of anti-monopoly struggle. In politics, monopoly turns into dictatorship, and in economy, monopoly and oligopoly have harms. The essence of struggle is to secure flexibility. When monopoly prevails, the society becomes stiff, and there will be no room for other opinions and economic elements. Political coalition is a process of listening and accommodating opinions flexibly. Economy loses vitality if there are too many regulations. In any area, the damage is solely to the people.
Anti-monopoly leads to innovation, and the benefit goes to the public. That’s what happened when Rockefeller’s monopoly collapsed in 1911. Standard Oil, founded by Rockefeller in 1870, dominated 88 percent of the U.S. oil market for 20 years, and its influence was so great that it controlled transport charges. In related industries, existing companies could not survive, much less start new businesses. It was a castle-type privilege and power abuse. The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 broke the monopoly, and a middle class was nurtured. It allowed smaller companies to be founded, compete with larger corporations and work together. Ideas could lead to wealth. It provided the foundation that anyone can succeed if you try and pursue innovation. It was a conversion to a flexible economy.
In this context, I find the government’s reshoring policy strange. The government wants to bring back companies that left to flexible places back to the country with regulations. Companies pursue added value. They consider various elements, such as productivity, tax, labor relations and consistency of government policies. When these are met, companies will come. They won’t come if any one of them is rigid.
Even in labor, which is a basic of human life, monopoly is over, especially in the Industry 4.0 era represented by digitalization. Machines and computers are replacing human labor. We need changes to survive in the fourth industrial revolution. It is the so-called transformation to “Work 4.0.”
The Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs of Germany published “Green Paper Work 4.0” in 2015. It contains insight into changes in labor, and scholars around the world have read it. One of the values throughout the book is flexible control. It is similar to labor time sovereignty, referring to individuals having control over their work hours. It is a system of selectively and freely distributing work hours when training or childcare is needed.
Of course, the premise is to accomplish the expected outcomes for the wages. Monopoly of control by the government or employer needs to be stripped to adapt to the Industry 4.0 era.
When anti-monopoly is combined with universal common sense, it becomes very powerful. People look at politics, economy and society based on common sense. They turn their backs when they don’t understand an argument that they don’t find complying with common sense. It is not just about the Cho Kuk case. People responded similarly to the minimum wage increase and job policy, the loyalty that turned into ambition before the general election. That’s why the king can be replaced when people get angry. Deep rivers don’t make noise. In politics and economy, the first author of the paper on fairness, common sense and anti-monopoly is the people.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 25, Page 27