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[Opinion] “If I Start Talking…”

Posted July. 26, 2005 03:08,   


It was April 1990 during the Roh Tae-woo administration. Park Cheol-eon, state minister for Political Affairs under the Roh government, who had frequent political collisions with Kim Young-sam, then leader of the Democratic Liberal Party (DLP), told reporters, “If I start talking about the untold stories behind the three-party integration process or the visit to the Soviet Union, Kim’s political career could come to an end overnight.” This remark fueled the already fierce inner conflict of the DLP as well as rumors about the secret that allegedly threatened Kim’s political life.

“If I start talking…” When major political incidents or power-related corruption cases are revealed, we often hear these words from those on the defensive. Jang Se-dong, Lee Won-jo, Jeong Tae-soo, Jang Young-ja, and Gwon Noh-gab are some of them. Some “If-I-start-talking” remarks were directed to President Roh Moo-hyun. Former lawmaker Kim Young-bae grudgingly said, “If I start talking…” after losing the 2002 Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate election. So did former MDP leader Jeong Dae-cheol in relation to the illegal presidential election funding. They were implying that the facts known to the world were only a tip of an iceberg and that there was a larger truth. That was both a grudging appeal and a threat.

Perhaps we are witnessing a “learning effect” from the political world. Recently, Mr. Gong, the former head of Mirim Team, a wiretapping team of the precedent of today’s National Intelligence Service (NIS), said, “If I start talking, not a single media agency would go unhurt.” A former intelligence agent obligated to protect the confidentiality of his work even after his retirement is talking big with illegally wiretapped information as his weapon. This is no more than a demonstration of bad manner born from bad authority that abused the intelligence service.

There is a Jewish saying that a secret is your prisoner as long as you keep it, but once you reveal it, you become its prisoner. Maybe that is why so often, after the “If I start talking” remark, nothing comes out. The important thing is to restore the transparency and health in every corner of our political, economic, and social sectors so that such a remark has no place to stand. That would be the definite way to never again hear such discomforting and dark remarks.

Song Young-eon, Editorial Writer, youngeon@donga.com