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[Opinion] A Fake Wedding

Posted October. 08, 2005 07:57,   


“Hong Seong-yeop and Yoon Jeong-min invite you to share with them the joy of their marriage. November 24, 1979. YWCA.” The groom was a “pretty boy.” With a fair complexion, he was an undergraduate of Yonsei University. Even the 300-seat auditorium was not big enough to accommodate the guests. Following the groom’s entry, the “people’s declaration on stopping the presidential election by the National Conference for Unification” was read aloud, which went, “Today, at this historic moment when the determined fight for democracy against the 18 year-long dictatorship is nearing its ultimate victory...”

The “YWCA fake wedding ceremony” was the first political event since the collapse of the Park Chung-hee administration in which dissidents and students came together for one cause. The only way to hold a rally without permission of the authorities under the marshal law was a wedding ceremony. Mr. Hong volunteered to be the groom. The bride, Jeong-min, was a fictitious figure whose name in reversal, “min-jeong,” represented “democratic government” that the democratic activists were so hoping for. Hong, caught on the spot and sent to prison, passed away on October 5 after remaining single for the rest of his life. He was 53 years old, yet very young. His younger sister said, “I believe he did what he wanted to do before leaving.”

The person who was with him in prison is the incumbent prime minister. The world has changed so much so that many of those who made strong voices for democracy have joined the participatory government. However, a day after Hong died, Seoul National University professor Lee Jeong-bok said in a seminar, “The current political process is in a sense similar to the past military dictatorship.” This implies that the “democratic forces” took power to take after the military authoritarian regime that was meant to be overthrown in the past. Then, what exactly had the “democratic movement” at that time aimed for?

No one would deny the value of democracy. Nonetheless, you are misunderstood to think that participatory democracy in which one person carries one vote would solve all of the problems. Even worse is when the participatory government dares not say anything about the democratization resembling a military dictatorship and North Korean human rights problems such as people starving, escaping, and being tortured to death. I wish it were not a “fake democratic movement” heading in the direction of North Korea. I send my sincere condolences over to Hong’s death.

Kim Sun-duk, Editorial Writer, yuri@donga.com