Don’t lie down on the grass
The author is a lawyer and deputy political news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.
Around this time last year, I wrote an article about Yoon Suk-yeol’s football skills. While the momentum or luck that will affect the outcome is still unknown, it became clear that he pursues so-called “Middle Eastern-style” football, in which a player lies down to feign an injury when an opponent aggressively tackles him. When Yoon occasionally gets the ball, he typically passes it onto midfielders.
Refusing to participate in television debates is a strategy symbolizing Yoon’s football style. His reasoning is so strange that it is shocking. “If I have a debate, it will end up in a fight. From the voters’ point of view, it doesn’t help to watch policy debates to choose a government’s top decision-maker and verify his mindset,” he said.
Ruling Democratic Party (DP) presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung said, “Politicians have the duty to present their philosophy and visions to the voters and obtain their consent.” Justice Party candidate Sim Sang-jeong said, “Debate among candidates is itself a democratic process to discuss and adjust the future of Korea.” On Monday, Yoon responded, “If you want to have a debate with me, you must accept the investigation of the Daejang-dong scandal by a special prosecutor.”
It is quite disappointing to see Yoon show his limits whenever he is demanded to state his position on policy issues. But I have the real question, “Is this system of demanding answers to all things from a person really fair?” Ironically, I have the same question whenever I see Lee giving smooth answers to questions with an expressionless face. I have doubts whether Lee really thinks he can do everything if elected president.
Unfortunately, the two candidates are not interested in changing the system that binds them. If they don’t want to change the system, it is the fate of presidential candidates to respond to questions about everything. On the other side, 60 percent of voters don’t want to vote for a certain candidate to serve for the next five years.
In an unprecedented crisis amid the pandemic, voters desperately want to at least verify their positions and sincerity on every economic, political and social issue. It is understandable that Yoon doesn’t want to face Lee in person due to his repeated off-track remarks and actions.
But it is not something Yoon can choose to avoid. Online comments reflect the call of the people. Yoon must agree to participate in the television debate and answer questions. Also, he may feel that the public opinion is cheering for him in a football game. But he cannot score a goal if he chooses to lie on the grass.