‘Old evil and pro-Japan’LEE GA-YOUNG
The author is the head of national team of the JoongAng Ilbo.
Yoon Mee-hyang — a lawmaker-elect of the Citizen Party and former chairwoman of the Korean Council for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan — is facing scrutiny even before entering the National Assembly. Yoon has played a major role in advocating for the issues of wartime sex slavery by Japan to the world.
Having worked hard in the field for more than 30 years, her way to the legislature seemed smooth. But Lee Yong-soo, a former wartime sex slave with whom she worked with for decades, became an unexpected obstacle.
On May 12, Yoon said she was reminded of former Justice Minister Cho Kuk — an icon of liberalism in Korea whose personal life had been thoroughly exposed for six months over a corruption scandal involving his family — after allegations were raised against her, her family and the Korean Council.
She said it was a plot by the rightist media and the United Future Party and that she would fight against the opposition United Future Party, pro-Japan media and scholars. Former lawmaker Chun Yu-ok taunted that she was the female Cho Kuk. I don’t mean to agree, but I recalled the chaotic situation last year. Cho defined people attacking him as “old evil and pro-Japan” and brought his supporters together, dividing the nation in two.
A civil group accused Yoon and Lee Na-young, current chair of the board of the Korean Council, of embezzlement and fraud charges.
But Yoon defined the issue as a matter of pro-Japan versus anti-Japan. Former Justice Minister Cho criticized Prof. Lee Young-hoon, author of the book “Anti-Japan Tribalism,” of being “unpatriotic and pro-Japan.” Cho used such expressions to describe people with different opinions.
What’s important is that Cho and Yoon are public officials not free from verification. Cho’s wording when he was a scholar did not matter. Yoon as a civil activist doesn’t matter either. But Cho became a top government official, and Yoon was elected a proportional representative in the National Assembly. Therefore, verification has to be harsher. The process should have happened before the ministerial appointment or candidate nomination. The Blue House and the ruling Democratic Party were lazy to do the job, so the media and civil groups stepped in.
But Cho and Yoon brand their critics “old evil and pro-Japan.” They are not willing to see the criticisms against them. While they are already established as the ruling power of the society, they act like victims persecuted by the pro-Japanese establishment.
How are progressive people going to criticize Lee, who raised serious questions about Yoon and the Korean Council? They must not forget that the imprudent words and acts of top government officials can split the nation.
JoongAng Ilbo, May 14, Page 28