[VIEW 2035] All the blame, none of the responsibility

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[VIEW 2035] All the blame, none of the responsibility

Park Tae-in
The author is a political news reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.
In many cases, it starts with the word “suspicion.” It becomes a subject of debate for two or three days, or even for a week. When the very person who caused the problem is kicked out, the news cycle quickly moves on. This is the typical pattern where an issue dominates Korean society.
You Hee-yeol, a well-known composer in Korea, has disappeared. He came under suspicion of plagiarism. After a few days, the talented composer vanished. Kim Tae-won, leader of rock band Boohwal, appeared on “100 Minute Debate” and said, “If we call plagiarism a kind of disease, he has been ignoring it, letting the disease grow without any treatment.” You disappeared from TV. He must have known that the issue will not come to an end unless he disappears.
Someone would probably think that he paid for what he had done. But it’s not that clear. Has the endemic problem of similarity among songs in the K-pop industry been solved because he was banished? Is there a clear criteria that draws a fine line between plagiarism and reinterpretation now? An in-depth discussion was needed, not just an end to the issue. But everyone turned their eyes away. 
Why did they blame him so quickly? Kim Bong-hyeon, a music critique, wrote “It is hard to think that those attacks on You are relevant to music. People considered him to be a person without morality and then punished him, saying that he deserves it because he’s unethical.”
Park Soon-ae, former Minister of Education, went through the same process, stepping down after only 34 days in office, as her plan to lower the school starting age to five came under fire. “I’m to blame for every issue including the school reform,” Park said. After her resignation, the government scrapped the plan, saying “It is unrealistic.” On the face of it, it seems that someone took the blame. However, in a nutshell, nothing has changed. School reform has been discussed by the Roh Moo-hyun administration. No one can take a step forward, when meaningless issues repeatedly come and go.

Normally, the very person who brings about a specific issue can’t be the cause or solution. Rather, the person is a reflector that shows the very paradox surrounding the issue. An individual has been used as a smokescreen to veil the structural problems in our society. What’s the conclusion after an individual comes under fire and vanishes? So what have we gained? Countless issues ceaselessly come and go.

The U.S. Congress established a Select Committee to investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. They interviewed approximately 1,000 people including former President Donald Trump’s family members and close acquaintances to clarify his responsibility. Although the former president is still claiming that the presidential election was rigged, many are saying that this cumbersome procedure has unveiled the fundamental crisis in American democracy. 
Anne Elizabeth Applebaum, an American historian, called this “massive-scale fact-checking.” What do you think? Don't we need a thorough and proper discussion where we can take a step further, rather than empty, meaningless issues that come and go repeatedly?

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