Go to contents

[Opinion] Royal Power and Corruption

Posted December. 29, 2001 14:00,   


I feel stiff when I watch on TV the key governmental personnel receiving their appointment certificates. Since I have never stood there I am not quite sure, but it seemed to me that the distance between President and the appointed people is good 4 meters. The newly appointed government officials take a few steps forward and bow down to receive the appointment certificates. And when they shake hands with President, the odd scene, like the shaking of hands over the wide table in the Inter-Korean dialogue meeting, is repeated since the distance between President and the appointed is still too far.

One may ask, what`s the matter whether he or she kneels down or bows down for the `honor of the family`. However, if you closely look around, the authoritative attitudes and the reminiscence of the royal power are found everywhere as if we were living in a feudal era.

The government officials who worked at the department to administrate Presidential orders often complain about their difficulties in checking up every meaningless order as if they are the doctrines of a royal religion.

For example, the regular orders of the previous presidents were to "control the consumer price to secure the life of the common people` or to `give efforts for the export since the international economic prospect is not optimistic for next year` which is not hugely different from the words." "eat, then you will be full." If such regular duties of the related departments are once ordered by President, the department become busy over nights to prepare the detail measures of the order. If President ordered in the flood field to "drain out the water immediately and straighten up the rice as soon as possible." the flooded rice pad becomes all of a sudden full of government officials with torches to carry out the order over night. Didn`t they do anything before Presidential order?

Having been in a rut for dozens of years without any criticism, the nation became insensitive to the deceptions and hyperbole about such Presidential actions. One example is the announcement of Cheong Wa Dae after visiting foreign countries which stated that, "The economic achievement of this sales diplomacy is this and that." For the reader`s reference, President cleared 10.4 billion dollars through his visit to the European countries. There is no way to guess as to what the related departments and export business had done until Presidential visit and the export goal of next year will be easily achieved by the monthly Presidential visit to the foreign nations according to that calculation.

The power will be concentrated on a handful of close people under the royal power. However, more serious problem is that the criticism against them is considered as a kind of taboo. As Confucius once said, ordinary people are more likely to be corrupted as he or she is freed from criticism. Is it a mere coincidence that various dirty `gates` and the incidents are related to the son of President?

To say one more word, a clear example is the fact (!) that Rep. Kim Hong-Il received a huge amount of money from Daewoo. Even though there is no precedent that the giver clearly revealed the methods and amount of the money in detail, the case is fading out.

Could it be only Daewoo? And were such bribe-takings carried out in 1988 only before the period of public action. The case is just fading out from the scene without revealing the submerged iceberg. However, the cover-up of this case will not go forever. The criticism seems still a taboo even though the reality after the termination of the Presidency is obvious, considering the corruption cases are already leaked while still having one more year to go.

The end of year is confusing and is troubled by the odd excuses of the son of Presidents, who stands in the middle of the gates in which all authorities of the government played a part. Since it is clear that the incomplete gates will open the new year, people cannot even end this year and welcome the new year with hope. The deep sigh of the innocent people will continue as long as the royal Presidential power prevails.

Lee Kyu-Min (editorial writer)