No apology whatsoever

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No apology whatsoever

The author is the head of the national 2 team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Ruling Democratic Party (DP) Chairman Lee Hae-chan did not apologize. While the party spokesperson apologized to the media company, Lee didn’t. He took questions from reporters at the funeral of late Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon. Lee cherished his memory of Park, saying he had been friends with Park for 40 years and that he had done great things while trekking the path of a human rights lawyer to civil activist to finally, the mayor of Seoul. A reporter from Newsis asked him about the DP’s response to the sexual harassment allegations against Park.

Lee said the question was rude at a funeral. He took a step toward the reporter and told him he was unwise. But, the reporter asked the question on behalf of all reporters, not his company. Most reporters at the funeral were newbies, not veterans that Lee meets at the National Assembly. His cold glance and rough gesture to the young reporters was condescending, forcing them not to bring up the sexual harassment allegations that were clearly a secondary assault on the survivor.

Lee has called Seoul “shallow” and Busan “shabby.” He spent 28 years as a lawmaker, serving seven terms. He also served as the education minister and prime minister, participating in the state administration for over 30 years. He is the head of the super majority ruling party with 176 seats in the 300-member legislature. If Seoul is shallow and Busan is shabby, he is one of the people who should feel responsible. But his words did not reflect a sense of responsibility.

Lee is not the only one. Irresponsible remarks by cabinet members have become common. The prime minister at the interpellation, ministers at the standing committees and minister nominees at confirmation hearings reproach opposition lawmakers without reserve. After finalizing the landslide parliamentary election victory on April 15, Lee said he could not help but feel a heavy sense of responsibility. But three months after the victory, a sense of responsibility is nowhere to be found from Lee, the cabinet members or the ruling party lawmakers.

But when rudeness and irresponsibility become an issue, they don’t apologize. Lee blamed the media for taking his “shallow Seoul” comment out of context. He did not respond to the press association’s demand nor did he apologize for hurling insults at the reporter. Should the public watch the rudeness of 176 lawmakers for the next four years? In last year’s bestseller “Responding with a Smile to Rude People,” the author wrote that power trips will always continue unless they are stopped. Lee needs to apologize to the so-called “bad reporter” first.

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