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[Opinion] `The Culture of Abusive Language`

Posted September. 11, 2001 07:08,   


Sometimes others can see `me` better. That is why what others say are often true even if it sounds harsh. The Grand National Party convened a meeting to listen to what `foreigners` had to say concerning politics and leadership in Korea. Among what was expressed in this informal meeting is the phrase, `Sure enough!`

`Blame culture has gone too far. Even the National Assembly hearing has become a place for condemning witnesses and making political attacks rather than rectifying policy errors for improvement. During the Daewoo Motor Negotiation, leaders should have taken responsible actions toward the press, but no one wanted to assume responsibility in fear of receiving any blame.` (The president of U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Korea)

The hearing is modelled after the U.S. However things work quite differently inside the Yeoido National Assembly Building. When there is a doubtful issue that has political implications its content must be ascertained and examined, so that it will never recur in the future. However the place of a hearing has become a place which teems with commotion and condemnation. Naturally the citizens are reluctant to watch another `political farce`.

It has now become clear that the Daewoo incident had been unnecessarily prolonged. The condition GM initially proposed would have been rather favorable. However Ford interfered to drive the situation toward an open bid.

Only later, Ford exploited Daewoo and the government and ditched all responsibility after having appropriated all information. It was Kim Dae-Jung who lamented, `We have become victims of Ford without a single word`.

When the government was asked as to why this happened, it immediately responded by asking, `Who will handle the hearing?` By this the government was suggesting that although Ford seemed suspicious from the outset, a private free contract with GM would lead to severe outcome that will produce ongoing hostility due to issues concerning special privileges or suspicions. This could very well be an excuse that does not sound like an excuse. However one cannot deny that the foreigners are correctly identifying the strange hearing structure, methods of political game, and blame culture as the culprits that fostered the Daewoo disaster. The irresponsibility of politics and administration that continues to deviate while foreseeing the right decision that ensures the benefit of the nation is what undermines the nation and its citizens.

`The greatest problem Korean politics is facing is the absence of discussion. Political circles pass laws without discussing legal measures`. (Vice manager of a foreign company in Korea) This remark was made at the same place. It was as if when the National Assembly was voting for the dismissal of Lim Dong-Won, the Minister of Unification, the revised supplementary budget bill was also passed in addition.

When one considers the citizens who pay tax, it is difficult to understand how such bill, which amounts to 555,500,000,000 won, could have been passed so easily without any discussion. The means and the end have certainly been switched. In the eyes of the citizen, to claim that the unification of the nation depends on the status of one person, the Minister of Unification, and to arouse such commotion as if to say that the destiny of the nation lies precisely here is outright ridiculous. It is nothing more than fighting over power and privilege among political circles. 260 members of the National Assembly committed their lives to this strange power game, while the revised supplementary budget bill was additionally thrown in. What could this be but a dereliction of one`s duty.

Some might ask why our politics lack discussion. What we have is not discussion but abusive language, sarcasm, and sophistry. Who can claim that this National Assembly ponders with numbers and rationality?

There is a problem with the spokesman system. Whenever issues arise, spokesmen appear on stage to argue, but in advanced countries the representatives of the parties appear in person. Only then could they improve the image of authority as responsible parties. (Japanese pressman in Seoul) This remark was also made at the same place.

What the foreigners saw as competition for abusive language among Korean spokesmen seemed quite pitiful. They seemed to be devising smart words that would offend and anger their counterparts. Where else but in Korea can one find parties that employ `people who are granted the right to use abusive language?` When the offense and public denunciation of the spokesman is not sufficient, other members and assistant spokesmen interfere to increase the quantity and intensity of abusive language.

Words that make one cry while laughing, words that are sorrowful and coarse. `Seeing the forty thousand people gathered in an emigration exhibition, there seems to be a lot of people who wish to leave the country before it becomes a communist nation` `the embarrassing(Chang-Pi) union of president Lee Hwe-Chang and honorary president Kim Jong-Pil` There is an overabundance of wordplays. This is probably why internet cafes abound with abusive languages tainted by politics. The digital culture of this nation is making its way through abusive language. Tearing each other down through abusive language, criticism, and denunciation is what gives joy and refreshment, while solution-seeking remains secondary.

Kim Choong-Shik (Editorial staff)