The author is a life and economy team reporter at the JoongAng Ilbo.
At one time, there used to be a military drill course in the middle and high school curriculum. Not just middle-aged people, but also those at the end of the millennial generation born in the late 1980s and early 1900s might vaguely remember the course.
In the class, male students would take ritual training in the school fields, part of the military training for soldiers. Female students would learn first aid, bandaging and nursing skills. The class was scored based on performance. In 1997, the drill became selective, not required, and practically disappeared.
The old memory of putting a bandage on my partner’s head came back as I watched the controversy over the “eradication of communism.” In November 2021, Shinsegae Group Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin posted a photo of him with a friend wearing a red hat and holding a red wallet. He wrote, “The photo gives out some communist vibes, but don’t misunderstand.” And he added the hashtag, #EradicateCommunism.
Controversy sparked when Instagram removed Chung’s post. He posted a photo of a hangover drink and wrote, “I will survive till the end” with the hashtag, #EradicateCommunistm. He violated the guideline on physical violence and incitement. The guideline stipulates that content that can lead to a risk of substantial damage or threaten public safety is not permitted.
Chung was “joking,” but Instagram saw it as “incitement.” I find it fishy. If you search “EradicateCommunistm” on Instagram, thousands of posts come up. Only Chung’s specific post was deleted. When Chung officially protested, the deleted post was restored after a day because it was a “system error.” It seems that there is no clear standard for deletion. I cannot help but doubt the so-called “platform censorship.”
The controversy is spreading to politics. Opposition People Power Party (PPP) presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol posted a photo of himself buying anchovies and beans at an E-Mart owned by Chung, using the products to allude to “eradicate communism” in Korean, and opposition lawmakers quickly followed suit. The ruling Democratic Party (DP) criticized Chung for calling for the “annihilation of communists” in the 21st century, while the PPP claims that hating communists is only controversial in a communist country.
Back in school, when I was tested on how well I could put a bandage on my partner’s head, Korea was divided. That is clearly still the case today. But with the March 9 presidential election just around the corner, my concern is with the platform censoring information rather than the communists.