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[Opinion] Savage Society

Posted July. 25, 2003 21:38,   


When he was brought to court on charges of fund-raising law violation, Rep. Kim Geun-tae might have thought about the darkest days of his life – he was being brutally tortured by intelligence agents at a secret room in Namyoung-dong in September 1985. He must have seen the double face of savageness at that time as the so-called technicians worried about their daughter getting married and son taking a college entrance test, while torturing him mercilessly. As the torturers forced him to crawl on the ground naked and beg for his life, he must have shuddered at the savageness that ignored the least pride of a human being. He later wrote in his memoir `Namyoung-dong,` “All the faith I had kept for human beings were broken into pieces.”

After 18 years, Kim was talking about savageness of this society again, this time in a courthouse - When you try to act based on common sense and principles, you become losers, and when you try to pursue you dream and ideals, you become a laughingstock. Then he added that he would not ask for leniency while the savageness prevailed. His statement reminds me of the last plea made by Socrates. Reproaching the ruling class that was unaware of their ignorance, he said, “I would not beg for your mercy with my tears.” After the ruling, Kim shouted `fighting` surrounded by his supporters, which also reminds me of the picture of David, in which Socrates pointed his finger up to the sky surrounded by his disciples.

We cannot know for sure whether Socrates said `the law is the law, how wrong it may be.` Given the fact that he pointed out `If a ruling did not hold effects, a country would not exist.` as his disciples urged him to escape the prison, he must have had such a thought. Individuals avoid savageness by being courteous, and the society by establishing the law and order. Excessively harsh law, however, hurts justice and fuels savageness among individuals and in the society. That is the law that is not right.

The fund-raising law applied to Rep. Kim, however, cannot be seen as wrong, unpractical it may be. It was the political circles he engages in that in the first place introduced the law, which is hard to follow. Then, at the center of the savageness of this society is none other than politicians who deceive the general public with hard-to-follow law. And Kim himself confessed that he violated the law. When he heard that President Roh said he became `a laughingstock,` he must have felt offended. But it may be the general public who must feel offended, given the contradictory reasoning on the fund-raising law.

Lim Chae-Chung, Editorial Writer, cclim@donga.com