[VIEW 2035] Discrimination meets the Yoon administration

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[VIEW 2035] Discrimination meets the Yoon administration

Park Tae-in
The author is a political news reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo 
The word “fairness” is being overused. Everyone talks about it. What is paradoxical is that the more you shout the word, the less valuable it becomes. We’re facing “fairness deflation” amid the era of inflation as prices go up while wages remain the same.
In the ongoing controversy over the Yoon administration’s nepotism, fairness is a key word. The debate on fairness and meritocracy started with ministerial and vice-minister level posts that were filled mostly with former prosecutors. Now the same thing is happening around the hiring of civil servants.

Regarding the civil servant surnamed Woo, whose father is one of President Yoon Suk-yeol’s old acquaintances and who donated 10 million won ($7,600) to Yoon's campaign, the presidential office mentioned “fairness.”
“How could the Democratic Party criticize a civil servant who reached the position by his own efforts? They personally hired someone as a top level civil servant,” said People Power Party (PPP) leader Kwon Seong-dong, who personally recommended Woo for the position, mentioning Park Seong-min, former secretary to the former President for youth affairs.
How many young people in Korea are able to donate 10 million won to a presidential candidate and get a personal recommendation from the leader of the ruling party? 
There are only a few young people who can work for an election campaign, and they’re unpaid as well. Not everyone can get into the presidential office even though they contributed to a campaign. Apparently, politicians often tell civil servants, “There are so many daughters or sons of someone,” which likens the politicians who made recommendations to parents. It shows that the starting line was different from the beginning. Fairness sounds empty.

The story doesn’t stop here. The word “discrimination” is overused nowadays. When it comes to hiring Yoon’s second-cousin, the presidential office argued that criticizing the hiring only because she is related to the president is discrimination. People with power who don’t suffer inconvenience don’t need the Anti-Discrimination Act. The words “presidential office” and “discrimination” do not go together. 
Everyone tries to get into the presidential office in the early stages of an administration because getting closer to power is more important than one’s position. People are asking why they hired these people. And the answer the government gives is “Asking is discrimination.” 
The approval rating for President Yoon is hovering around 30 percent, only two months after he took office. He was elected because he put emphasis on the value of fairness. The rating is meant to drop in the era of “fairness deflation.” We thought our society would be fairer when someone else takes the post, but there has been no change so far. 
In “Songgot,” an internet comic drawn by Choi Gyu-seok, there’s a line: “Don’t be sure that you will not be the same as them. When you stand somewhere different, you will see a different landscape.” They need to look at the same landscape that our eyes see. Everyone can talk about fairness. But only with caution.

BY PARK TAE-IN [park.taein@joongang.co.kr]
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