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[Opinion] Egg Terror

Posted July. 21, 2007 03:03,   


Grand National Party Representative Jeong Hyeong-geun was hit with eggs when he visited the Korean Veterans Association (KVA) to explain the party’s new North Korea policy two days ago. Three photos are running in newspapers: flying eggs, Jeong’s face hit with eggs, and his face showered with the broken eggs. Jeong’s miserable face triggers a lot of thoughts. It is both paradoxical and implicative that the lawmaker who has been categorized as an “ultra-rightist conservative” was attacked by the conservative KVA.

Some who have been critical of him might enjoy his humiliation. Long a security prosecutor and a director at the former National Intelligence Service, he was elected a representative, making his name as a sniper for the incumbent administration and rival parties. His critics might think that the recent incident “serves him right.” However, showering a person with eggs is not a proper way of expressing one’s opinion.

As chair of the GNP special committee for peaceful reunification, Jeong has played a key part in coming up with the “peace vision for the Korean Peninsula,” the party’s new North Korea policy. The new policy is mainly about scrapping reciprocity, sweeping economic assistance to Pyongyang, and support for a second inter-Korean summit. Many criticize the policy, which is almost opposite to the existing one, as populism or a pure political tactic for the upcoming presidential election. But such criticism does not justify the incident, which is excessive behavior that cannot be considered freedom of expression or of assembly and demonstration.

Throwing eggs cannot be taken lightly. Although it is a common way of demonstrating both at home and abroad, it is an intolerable act because it hurts one’s honor and may deter many from expressing their opinions. Less violent it may be compared with throwing stones or wielding swords, it is violence and terror that violates others’ freedoms and rights. In other words, it is the enemy of democracy.

With the presidential election approaching, in particular, the country should remain alert to possible emergence of more serious terror.

Yook Jeong-soo, Editorial Writer, sooya@donga.com