Take extra care
The author is the head of the national team of the JoongAng Ilbo.
It is very fortunate that Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung tested negative for the new coronavirus on March 7. He was tested after showing symptoms of a cold and sore throat.
There had already been concerns. As he declared a war against the Shincheonji church, he had visited its headquarters in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi, and the Palace of Peace in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi.
The Gwacheon headquarters was shut down due to the risk of group infection, and the Gapyeong palace is also closed due to the risk of infection. That’s why the church’s founder Lee Man-hee had to have a press conference in front of the building. But Gov. Lee had stayed in the building for 10 minutes to forcibly obtain a sample from Lee to be tested.
Because of his aggressive stance, Gov. Lee’s approval rating has gone up considerably. He also announced he would send the medical helicopter from the trauma center in Aju University Hospital to help Daegu and North Gyeongsang. But the hospital expressed concerns about the possibility of infection from the chopper as Covid-19 spreads. It seemed that Gov. Lee did not consult the hospital in advance.
He wrote on Facebook, “The quarantine officials help delay investigations into the secretive religious sect because investigations hamper disinfection. Prosecutors are reluctant to investigate for the same reason. The media also urges the prosecution to not probe the religious sect for the purpose of disinfection. I feel the dark and mighty power of the Shincheonji church with strong influence in the shadows.” The Facebook post suggests where the governor’s actions are headed.
I was also impressed by Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, who appeared at a Gwanghwamun rally last month calling for President Moon Jae-in to step down. The mayor climbed on top of the city’s broadcasting bus at the back of the rally and urged protesters to disassemble.
Many people are suffering from Covid-19. Not just patients and those around them, but also average citizens are complaining about the pressure from commuting or going out. I cannot blame politicians trying to break through the crisis. But I hope they are more careful about their words, writings and actions. People don’t want to see them relying on Machiavellian sentiment and considering it a political opportunity.
JoongAng Ilbo, March 9, Page 28