Banksy on the Han

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Banksy on the Han

The author is a political news editor of the JoongAng Sunday.

Banksy’s oil painting “Devolved Parliament” was sold for 8.98 million British pounds ($11.6 million) at Sotheby’s in London on Oct. 3. The painting leaves a strong impression: 100 chimpanzees are gathered at the House of Commons debating state affairs. Before Brexit scheduled for March, British politicians had engaged in meaningless debates, and the painting compresses the ongoing political reality into one image.

Korea’s National Assembly is not much different. Curse words and subpar comments hinder Korean politics. At the parliamentary inspection of the government on Oct. 7, Yeo Sang-gyu, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said to fellow lawmakers, “Ridiculous, you’re an idiot.” Next day, Lee Jong-gu, chairman of the Trade, Industry, Energy, SMEs and Startups Committee, was broadcast live using vulgar language. He was speaking to a witness, not the subject of the inspection.

Moreover, at the confirmation hearing, lawmaker Jeong Gab-yun told a female candidate that she should contribute to the country by giving birth, and Park Seong-jung told a candidate he did not control his wife. Such gender discriminating remarks were made constantly. All these remarks were made by members of the Liberty Korea Party in public. Politics is all about words, and the opposition party needed to attack. But their standard is beyond common sense. The party must realize that these controversies will be vividly remembered by the voters.

How about the ruling party? Unlike the opposition party’s vulgar language, the ruling party was quiet. Some voters who want them to speak up feel frustrated. Some say that Yu Si-min is more vocal and influential than 128 Democratic Party lawmakers. Are they incompetent, lethargic or irresponsible? One side is vulgar, and the other side is quite, so we may need an inspection by the people, not the National Assembly.

Some want to translate Banksy’s artwork as “evolved parliament.” The parliament of the chimpanzees may be more evolved than the actual Parliament. It is a wrong translation by definition, but it may be more appropriate. What about Korea’s National Assembly? The National Assembly’s report card is a D, and it is so hard to take “D” out of “devolved.” At this rate, it will soon receive an F.
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