Act, don’t preach
The author is a senior columnist at the JoongAng Ilbo.
In his speech for a Youth Day ceremony on Saturday, President Moon Jae-in used the term “fair” 37 times. In his inauguration speech, Moon pledged to become a “fair president” and build a world free of privilege and unjustness. “In the government of Moon Jae-in and the Democratic Party [DP], opportunity will be equal. The process will be fair. The result will be just,” he said.
So, it is nothing unusual for Moon to stress the word “fair” because he is supposed to be a fair president. But it is unusual for him to stress “fair” from the beginning to the end of a speech. Why did he do so?
When you stress something too many times, it means you lack it. When you are confident that you are fair, you won’t have to emphasize it too much. Does he really want to lecture the youngsters about fairness? Aren’t they the ones who are thirsting for fairness? “We still hear the rage of young people who complain that unfairness persists,” Moon said in the speech.
Is Moon showing remorse before the angry young people? Remorse starts from admitting a wrong. He must confess the wrong, seek forgiveness and promise to not repeat that wrong. That is remorse. Moon doesn’t seem to be doing that either.
“The older generation lived in a world long pervaded by unfair privileges and deceit,” Moon said. “Those with vested interests passed down their wealth and honor from generation after generation.”
He is speaking as if he is not a member of the establishment or someone with vested interests. He pretends to be a warrior fighting those with vested interests — or a complete bystander.
We all know why he repeatedly underscored the concept of fairness. The young generation is complaining about unfairness under Moon. They are enraged because his associates played dirty and used privileges for their children. The president pretends he does not know. He didn’t mention Cho Kuk, Choo Mi-ae or Kim Hong-gul, the son of former President Kim Dae-jung, on the inaugural Youth Day event at the Blue House.
Special treatment given to children of top politicians is nothing new. Lee Hoi-chang, former head of the Grand National Party, lost two presidential elections because his son was suspected of dodging military duty, which later proved untrue. Choi Soon-sil’s daughter’s academic fraud was the trigger for Park Geun-hye’s impeachment and removal. The young people are highly sensitive to issues of fairness these days.
The biggest problem is that the government, which vowed fairness, is not admitting its own unfair practices. The administration does not realize it has become the establishment. It denies the truth and creates a fantasy world. Moon’s supporters are living in their own world of fantasy.
The biggest weakness of the former democracy activists is that they fail to face their true selves. The late President Kim Dae-jung said he felt heartbroken because his sons all had to live tough lives because of him. As he repeatedly showed pity to them, all three sons ended up in jail. The late President Roh Moo-hyun and current President Moon are not free from suspicions that their children received special treatment.
It is even more devastating that the former and incumbent justice ministers of Moon are marred in scandals over their children. They are in charge of the Ministry of Justice of the self-declared “fair president.” What can we expect from this administration?
The administration’s view on fairness is different from most people’s. Moon thinks it is fair for North Korean athletes to participate in the Olympic Games together with South Korean athletes. But our youngsters think it is fair for athletes who spent years training to compete on our team, not North Koreans. They believe that the opportunities should be equal but that it is fair to get a return proportional to one’s efforts.
The same reasoning applies to the issue of contract workers. The young agree with the idea of upgrading them to full-time workers, but they think opportunities must not be taken away from people competing for full-time jobs.
All answers are in Moon’s inaugural speech. He promised to be the president of all the people. He promised that powerful government offices will be given complete independence from politics. He said that opposition parties are partners in state affairs and that he would recruit talented people whether they supported him or not. He said he will be a humble president. But what happened is completely the opposite.
We felt nothing when Moon repeated the term “fair” 37 times in his Youth Day speech. He must act, not preach. Moon said he would create a society where fairness applies to “all areas, including recruitment, education, military service, society and culture.” The public will confirm his fairness when he makes a single move to punish unfairness practiced by one of his associates.