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Incheon mayor’s `bomb shot’

Posted November. 29, 2010 11:33,   


Five islands in the Yellow Sea including Yeonpyeong, where North Korea’s shells killed South Korean soldiers and civilians, belong to Incheon’s Ongjin County. Sixty years ago, U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s landing on Incheon changed the dynamics of the Korean War. The city has many residents originally from the North and their children, so this is why Incheon residents are angrier than other South Koreans about the provocation on the island.

Incheon Mayor Song Young-gil raised a soju bottle blackened by the shelling on Yeonpyeong Wednesday and said, “This is a true `bomb shot (boilermaker).`" He simply said it was alcohol where a shell was dropped. “I did use the term bomb shot but the term was used in a serious mood,” he said, adding, “Since our military responded strongly after the first round of the attack, the North attempted a second that affected civilians.” It is hard to believe that such mindless words came from a government official.

This is not the first booze mishap for Song, who was elected mayor as a member of the main opposition Democratic Party in the June 2 local elections. Baek Seok-du, the mayoral candidate of the minor Peace Democratic party, said in May, “Five members of the (now-defunct) Uri Party including Song had a drink at a hostess bar in Vietnam and had sex with minors in August 2004. They were caught by Vietnamese authorities.” The incident was never cleared since Song said, “I won’t respond to groundless rumors.” He also ignited controversy in May 2000, when as a first-time lawmaker, he drank with other politicians and women at a bar in Gwangju a day before a ceremony celebrating the 1980 Gwangju student uprising.

Song blasted critics for crudely picking at what he said over his “bomb shot” comment, but there is a time and place to say certain things. As Incheon mayor, he has no excuse for spitting out such mindless words in the face of tragedy. Could he have said “bomb shot” had one of his relatives been killed in such an incident? Song should apologize to Incheon residents and the South Korean people.

Editorial Writer Kwon Sun-hwal (shkwon@donga.com)