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[Opinion] Intellectual Ideologies

Posted November. 28, 2006 03:22,   


Korea’s left-wing intellectuals have strengthened their position by attacking right-wing perspectives. Peaceful unification and national independence were issues they have pursued, and rightists’ achievements, such as industrialization, economic gains, and breaking poverty traps have been underestimated because of people’s criticism against right-wing morality.

It is obvious that the confrontation between the two blocs was an unfair game from the start because leftists were able to mask their weakness thanks to overly criticized right-wing immorality. However, now the situation is different. After a left-wing party seized power, its inability greatly disappointed the nation. The rightists are very eager to launch harsh counter-attacks now.

Baek Nak-cheong, one of Korea’s outstanding left-wing intellectuals and an emeritus professor of Seoul National University, addressed this issue early this year at an event celebrating the 40th anniversary of Changbi Publisher (a quarterly academic magazine), saying, “Despite the abundant material and human resources that Changbi Publisher has access to now, it is very rare to see the kind of active debate that we had before.” This comment seems to be based on the frustration of an old left-wing intellectual. Now, leftists are preparing themselves to deal with the situation after the current government comes to end.

In April, Baek directly criticized Choi Jang-jip, a professor of Korea University, who is a left-wing scholar but has different point of view. This attack was aimed at stimulating debate among left-wing scholars and drawing public attention to the left-wing perspective.

In addition to this, Baek’s criticism is targeting right-wing intellectuals now. Recently, Baek openly criticized Ahn Byong-jik, the chief director of New Right Foundation, Park Se-il, professor of Seoul National University, and Lee In-ho, emeritus professor of Myongji University. In response, Ahn directly criticized Baek’s national division theory. Given the fact that Ahn has openly showed strong antagonism against ideological conflict, further intensive debates are expected. Ahn also plans to make criticism against Choi Jang-jip in the quarterly magazine ‘Zeitgeist,’ published by Ahn, in its spring issue next year.

The leftists and rightists have different plans in their minds. While the leftists struggle to find a way to reverse situations, the rightists seek a way to completely reveal the essence of left-wing perspectives. Once unveiling the mask of left-wing bloc, the rightists will easily gain the upper hand. Prominent figures on the left, such as Lee Young-hee and Kang Man-gil are not free from this investigation. Considering their growing influence, this is very obvious. The current direct criticism targeting particular scholars will make them confront this investigation soon.

Hong Chan-sik, Editorial Writer, chansik@donga.com