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Participatory Government Deteriorating Into “Isolated Government”

Participatory Government Deteriorating Into “Isolated Government”

Posted February. 18, 2005 22:46,   


Kim Sang-soo (47), the planning committee member who disclosed the disorder of the “Initiation Committee for the Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of Independence” affiliated with the Office of the Prime Minister, went to the Sumida River located in downtown Tokyo on February 18. We met Kim on Azuma Bridge, a bridge that lies upon this river.

“During the Kanto earthquake 80 years ago, Koreans, who were migrants from a lost nation, were killed with bamboo spears and thrown into this river. I can still hear their cries for help. I came here to strengthen my will, because an event intended to rise above the tragic past and reach for the future is currently facing trouble.”

The scandal started from the critical essay about a “factional gang” within the initiation committee that Kim posted on his Internet website on February 12.

“A diligent civil servant who asserted that this project should be run based on the president’s official orders was dismissed from the committee. Certain officials in power who disapproved of his ideas had fired him. The matter grew when I strongly insisted on his return. We should correct the abnormal structure that ruins earnest civil servants. Is this the participatory government that we were all expecting? It is becoming more like an “isolated government.”

Kim thinks artists should not be playing a supporting role in a “system” devised by politicians.

“Non-professionals are trying to make this artistic enterprise into one that has nothing to do with historical meaning. How can we talk about the 60th anniversary of our independence with an obsolete paradigm, and words and actions reminiscent of dictatorship? When I suggested that we should change the whole system, they tried to give me a few projects. I could not accept that.”

On rumors that he asked to be “officially entrusted” as an expert committee member, he expressed his bewilderment, saying, “After getting the call from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, I received up to 800 business calls and have been working since December 23. Why is there such a rumor at this point?”

After dropping out of high school, Kim started a career as a playwright, and received the Daejong Film Award for writing the script for the movie “Farewell My Darling.” He later assumed various titles, including installation artist, TV drama producer and author of pictorials and critical essays on society.

There are also certain views that blame his self-asserted character.

“Art is impossible without individual will. However, it is also impossible without cooperation with others. Mentioning my character is straining the essence of the matter. Compare the act of filling national artistic/academic event-organizing committees with unprofessional politicians with the disclosure of such acts. Which side is the stranger one?”

Kim denied reports that he has completely left the committee.

“I am still a planning committee member. I will continue to make suggestions on this matter until the committee is refilled with people who have the right capabilities. I will do everything to make this meaningful event the best. I have great trust in, and hope for, chairman Kang Man-gil. I learned Korean modern history through his book. I believe he should be called a living history teacher rather than a past history teacher.”

Kim asserted that the initiation committee should be formed again as well.

Hun-Joo Cho hanscho@donga.com