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[Opinion] The Royal Guards

Posted January. 19, 2005 23:11,   


The supreme rulers and lords of the feudal times had their own royal guards to protect themselves. As depicted in the movie “Hero” by director Zhang Yimou, the first Qin emperor was said to have allowed none of his men closer than 100 steps in front of him. Unofficial chronicles have it that the emperor allowed only those who had performed a special meritorious deed to approach 10 to 50 steps in front of him. Only the fewest number of his guards was allowed near him. The eunuchs, who were the emperor’s servants, were the highest royal guards in the Ming and Tang Dynasty.

The tradition of royal guards lives into the modern times. Hitler’s SS (Shutzstaffel) and Mao Tse-tung’s Red Guards are two of this kind. The SS, which was wrapped up in Aryan supremacy, killed six million Jews in Auschwitz, and the Red Guards, who were nothing more than rough and tumble amateurs, initiated the perdition on reformists and the destruction of traditional cultures. As the supreme ruler’s private army, royal guards often wore distinct uniforms or armbands, and suppressed public organizations regardless of social level or size. These guards usually consisted of non-mainstream, discontented forces.

Korea’s political history was also influenced by these royal guards in the form of private organizations for each different administration. There was the “Laurel Society” for the Roh Tae-woo administration, the “Democratic Mountaineering Club” and the “National Adoration Movement Headquarters” for the Kim Young-sam administration, and the “Youth Federation for the New Politics of the New Era” for the Kim Dae-jung administration. At times, the so-called “Crown Prince” of the administration would call the head of an intelligence agency at a room-saloon and brag about classified information, and the ministers and generals would kowtow to the “Sub-President.” When the new administration takes over, the royal guards are always done-in as the hounds are cooked when the rabbit hunt is over.

The royal guards of the Roh Moo-hyun administration are Nosamo, a shortened form of the “Society of People in Love with Roh Moo-hyun” in Korean. Recently, Nosamo proclaimed the Uri Party to take over the authority positions. There is no way of knowing how the president feels about the situation, but the staff of Cheong Wa Dae started to express its discomfort, commenting on how the commander of Nosamo “really ought to have a shave first.” Nosamo, in my opinion, was most beautiful when it was a purely voluntary fan club for “Foolish Roh Moo-hyun” who ran for the general election of April 13 at Busan in 2000.

Editorial writer, Oh Myeong-chul, oscar@donga.com