Go to contents

[Opinion] ‘A Strong Country of Demonstrators`

Posted December. 15, 2005 08:59,   


Many scholars spot “decency” as a social characteristic or mentality of Koreans.

As clear as the Korean saying, “Even a weasel has a face,” Koreans take a serious view of decency. To see sentences such as “I’m relieved to maintain my dignity” or “I can’t do it because I have to save face” commonly used, you can notice how deep the

consciousness of dignity is for Koreans. Also, on the other hand, saving one’s face is that hard.

There is a scholar who analyzed dignity from a formal perspective. It is explained that the mechanism of dignity is an act for show which is not in accord with the truth to preserve one’s prestige. Koreans’ “dignity” is the same as “making show” in the saying, “The nobility doesn’t have a warm chaff fire.” It’s an expression intended to show that the character of giving more importance to making show and acting rather than being honest both inside and outside. It also ties in with making show to align oneself during the meeting while conscious of others’ objections.

Currently in Hong Kong, the Korean demonstrators who have thrown away decency are the topic. On December 13, when the Sixth World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting commenced, the Korean demonstrators organized the “amphibious operation.” They held an assembly protesting the opening of agricultural products in Victoria Park and faced the police while heading towards the WTO conference hall as the incident was being aired in Korea. Korea’s characteristics were shown through these demonstrators. About 100 jumped into the sea with life jackets and tried to swim to the hall when the police blocked them. There was no reason for foreign media to miss this event. It was on the TV all night long repeatedly. Some sanguinary words such as “Hey, ××ה also came over the air waves grittily.

Demonstrators from 39 countries around the world in Hong Kong this time around number approximately 4,000. It is reported that Koreans comprised about 1,500, the largest group, and were actually leading the demonstration. As more drastic demonstrations continued yesterday, about 10 police shields were grabbed and held by the demonstrators for a while. It went as far as to be called “Korean Militant” by the local press. By now, Hong Kong people who are devoted to the soap “Dae Jang Geum” must be confused about what is “the real aspect of Korea.” It’s very apprehensive for the dignity of Korea.

Song Dae-keun, Editorial Writer, dksong@donga.com