Scapegoat politics

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Scapegoat politics

Provocative podcaster Kim Eo-jun made bombshell remarks again. On “Kim Eo-jun’s News Factory,” a program he runs on TBS Radio, Kim blamed the new coronavirus crisis on the city of Daegu and followers of the Shincheonji church. “As of yesterday, one out of 560 Daegu citizens got infected with the coronavirus, Covid-19. If the current pace continues, one out of 300 to 400 citizens will be infected with the virus next week,” he said. “If China is really responsible for the spread of the virus, why is only one out of 100,000 people in the Seoul metropolitan confirmed infected? The numbers tell the truth.”

We are dumbfounded at his twisted logic. The coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China. The number of patients in China has already exceeded 80,000. If the Moon Jae-in administration had banned the entry of travelers from China in the initial stages, Covid-19 would not have penetrated this country.

We wonder what mistakes were made by Daegu citizens. The pro-government podcaster rubbed salt in their wounds with his nonsensical framing of an evolving crisis. A bigger problem is that this kind of outrageous comment is nothing new. For instance, a member of the Youth Committee in the ruling Democratic Party (DP) posted a shocking comment on the internet. “You can leave Daegu alone. I cannot understand why Daegu citizens make so many demands to President Moon Jae-in though they vote for the opposition United Future Party in elections,” he said. “It would be O.K. if the virus infections do not spread to other regions than Daegu and North Gyeongsang regardless of a rapid surge in the number of infections in the region.” He also wrote that his trust in Moon grew deeper thanks to his effort to protect other regions. Earlier, ruling party spokesperson Rep. Hong Ihk-pyo stepped down after stirring controversy when he mentioned “containment of Daegu and North Gyeongsang to a maximum level.”

South Korea is suffering in its battle against the disease. The most distressed are people in Daegu and North Gyeongsang, where the infections are concentrated. Mentioning a “containment of the city” in such dire circumstances is not only a straightforward insult of Daegu citizens but also a mean attack designed to consolidate support among other regions ahead of the April 15 parliamentary elections. It is not the time for the ruling party or pro-government figures to try to find a political scapegoat. Everyone knows exactly what caused this crisis.

JoongAng Ilbo, March 9, Page 30

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