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[Editorial] The Unbearable Janus Face of the Ruling Party Chairman

[Editorial] The Unbearable Janus Face of the Ruling Party Chairman

Posted August. 17, 2004 21:54,   


It is now revealed as the fact that the father of Rep. Shin Gi-nam, the chairman of the ruling Uri Party, served as a Japanese MP during Japanese colonial rule. “Shindonga,” a monthly magazine, brought the activities of Shin’s father under scrutiny. A series of testimonies followed.

It is incorrect to implicate children for a father’s wrongdoings. This is because Shin is not the first party to the issue related to his father’s deed. At issue is Shin’s fallacy and hypocrisy covering up the facts about his father. Shin said, “My father worked as a teacher after graduating from a teachers’ college. After the country’s independence, he became a police officer,” last month when suspicions over his father’s collaboration with the Japanese colonial master initially surfaced. He deliberately did not mention his father’s military police career. Rather, he bragged about the military medal his “patriotic” father received as the commander of a sweep-and-clear operation against communist guerillas on Mt. Jiri. When all the facts came into view, he said, “I had to dismiss the allegations that he was a police officer because he was not.” What a contrite excuse!

The ruling party and the government have been arguing for a break with the past, such as the solution of issues pertaining to pro-Japanese collaborators. Shin has been at the forefront of this campaign, stressing the importance of the spirit of the nation. What he had to do was confess. Instead, he covered up his father’s collaboration and attacked others’ records. This is typical of a Janusian duality. He could have got around it if there was not unmovable evidence. We have to ask whether he strongly argued for a break with the colonial past to cover up his family’s shortcomings.

The major part of the axis of the leadership of the current government is the chairman of the ruling Uri Party. This is why the issue pertaining to Shin and his father can spill off into the issue surrounding the morality of the regime. When the moral authority begins to collapse at the core of the national leadership, any watchword for reform by it will have little legitimacy.

Chairman Shin belatedly admitted his father’s pro-Japan collaboration and asked bereaved families of independence activists for forgiveness. However, he should know that the issue will not go away that simply. There has been debate over whether he should resign or not within the ruling party. The public will closely watch what choice he makes.