Digging up the past

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Digging up the past

Lee Jung-min
The author is an editorial writer of the Joongang Ilbo.

Professor Kang Jun-man of Jeonbuk National University summed up the nature of the Moon Jae-in administration well. “I was organizing the examples of the Moon Jae-in administration being generous with itself and strict about others, but I stopped midway. Almost everything was like that.”

A characteristic of people in this administration is to ignore major flaws of their own, and instead find small flaws in others. They are strict about others and gentle on themselves. They are quick to apologize without context and shed crocodile tears, but repeat the shameless behavior of not admitting their own faults until the end.

Let’s look at the ruling Democratic Party (DP)’s retraction of its earlier decision to not field candidates for by-elections if the vacancy is the result of its own members committing serious wrongdoings. As by-elections are to be held next April as a result of sexual misconduct of the mayors of Seoul and Busan, DP Chairman Lee Nak-yon apologized to the victims. But then he acted in a very different way. He changed the party’s constitution to allow party members to run in the by-elections. It was pure hypocrisy, and everyone knew it. The DP called it “responsible politics.”

Last year, when allegations were raised of academic chicanery by former Justice Minister Cho Kuk’s daughter, Cho said he was sorry and apologized for not being strict with those near and dear to him. But he showed the “skill” to become the justice minister by saying, “Prosecution reforms are my last calling. I want to make the impossible possible.” When an allegation over a favor for current Justice Minister Choo MI-ae’s son during his military service was raised, Choo attacked the opposition People Power Party (PPP) and the media, and even demanded apologies from them. It is arrogant if she believes she is free from any flaws or errors.

In Korea today, it took six days for the commander-in-chief to say, “I feel sorry to citizens,” when a Korean national was shot and killed by North Korean military in the West Sea. The apology was overshadowed when he sent a gesture of reconciliation to North Korea on the same day. Censuring the PPP to repent its shameful past, being generous about one’s own mistakes and turning a blind eye to DP corruption is happening on a daily basis. A former activist and senior politician even deplored that only greed is left in the party.

It is sad and unfortunate that I am watching hypocrisy and the fall of the “democratization power” who fought for democracy. The moral superiority and elitism created while fighting against autocratic regimes led to self-righteousness and arrogance of making themselves some kind of transcendental beings. They idolize themselves. They want to trap themselves and people in the legend that they are the pure group who was oppressed and fought against violence and dictatorship.

To the people who see the world as a confrontation between democratic forces and antidemocratic forces, the critical absence of military dictatorship, industrialists and pro-Japanese group is a reality hard to admit. They bring back the non-existent ghosts of dictatorship and pro-Japan forces and try to create a “virtual reality” as a “hostile co-existence” with dictatorship is the reliable lifeline that can extend their political lives. That’s why they are turning the clock to the past.

Zhao Gao was a eunuch in the court of Qin Shi Huang (259 B.C.-210 B.C.). When the emperor died in his wagon during an imperial tour, Zhao hid the death and fabricated his orders so as to give the throne to the emperor’s youngest son Hu Hai. His fate would be sealed if the emperor’s eldest son Fusu inherited power. To cover up the foul smell from the corpse, he made a fake order to carry rotten fish, and he ate the emperor’s meal to hide his death. “Zhao Gau in the carriage” seems to have been revived before our eyes.

In the third year of the Moon Jae-in administration, some people feel like they’re suffocating from its endless pursuit of prosecution reforms, conglomerate reform and a rooting out of so-called past evils. Extreme division and discord from politics of taking sides penetrated into individual lives, destroying everyday relationships that have nothing to do with politics. Since the Cho Kuk scandal last year, I have heard from people around me that they have grown distant from people with very different ideas. Politics is a job of selling a dream, but politicians are only offering disappointment. As a result, some people rave over singer Na Hoon-a, who claimed that a singer’s job is selling dreams.

Blaming the opposition party, old evil practices and the establishment has become a habit of the ruling party. In a country where politics cannot give hope, can a hopeful future be made?

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