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[Opinion] President’s Rage

Posted July. 29, 2008 03:18,   


A Cheong Wa Dae official said yesterday that President Lee Myung-bak raged after being briefed that the U.S. Board on Geographic Names has changed Dokdo`s status to “Undesignated Sovereignty” from its previous description of the islets as Korean territory. The news article, however, invited a slew of comments more criticizing the president than the United States or Japan. Netizens said, “It is the public who should rage, not you,” “You seem to think that someone else is responsible. Isn’t it your responsibility?” “You should be mad at the United States, not at your innocent aides.” These negative and sarcastic comments on the president tell us that his “rage” didn’t win the sympathy of the public.

The reason is likely to lie in Lee’s frequent rages. Since he was elected, Lee reportedly exploded with rage whenever inappropriate things happened such as the document leakage of the transition team and survey results on dispositions of media firms’ executives. Since taking office, he is said to have expressed his great disturbance at the series of news reports including suspicious real estate transactions of key presidential aides, the party frictions over election nominations, bureaucratic selfishness and the belated report on the recent shooting death of a tourist at Mount Geumgang. Considering these facts, it is not strange that the people show such lukewarm responses to the angry president. They seemingly think the president’s frequent anger has changed nothing.

Moreover such descriptions as “rage,” “harsh criticism” and “reprimand” only leave impressions that the president, who is the chief administrator in full charge of state affairs, is trying to leave his buck to his aides. A public relation executive at a large corporation said, “Those reports remind me of a CEO blaming his subordinates. Unlike corporate CEOs, the president should spare expressions of his anger, but when he rages, it should be serious enough to get his message across.” Lee Sang-don, a law professor at Chung-Ang University, pointed out on his homepage, “When the former Soviet Union downed Korean Air’s Flight 007, U.S. President Ronald Reagon’s condemned the shooting using acerbic words such as "act of barbarism,” Nonetheless, his response was calm and cold.”

President’s aides, disclosing Lee’s feelings and remarks as they are, are not without problems. Although their intents were to highlight the importance of the matter, using undiluted expressions of the president’s rage, their choice of words simply went too far. They should have considered how their expressions would sound to the public. What would they say if the president gets angrier next time?

Editorial Writer Huh Mun-Myeong (angelhuh@donga.com)