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Disrespectful society

Posted September. 05, 2013 04:41,   


Hearing disrespectful remarks has become part of everyday life in Korea. People good at saying rough words appear on cable TV entertainment programs to compete with one another for shocking words, which, then, spread fast on the Internet. Just as PC games have earned the title of sports, rough words might be honored with the title of sport someday competing for aggressiveness.

This is not a joke when so many netizens enjoy so-called “diss" battle among young rappers. The word diss refers to "disrespect" and is a hip hop culture that attacks the other party by humiliating it for shortcomings or faults in the form of rap battle.

A 2010 rap titled “Ssagun” by Psy, the Gangnam Style singer, is also composed of a lot of rough words. But Psy’s criticism pointed at himself for his using marijuana or his violating the military service law, which caused trouble with the society. In that sense, it is different from what we see nowadays on TV and Internet that rappers criticize each other.

The main culprit of harsh words in the Korean society is the political circle where a diss battle has become a norm. During a parliamentary hearing on the Northern Limit Line in Yellow sea early last month, Democrat lawmaker Park Yeong-seon told National Intelligence Services Director Nam Jae-joon, “Why are you leering at me?” and even called him “that.” Though Park’s remarks were criticized for being inappropriate, the Democratic Party tried to make up excuses with saying, “The word ‘that’ was not about the NIS director but about his attitude, and it is true that the director stared at Park.” But such efforts by the party did do little effect on people’s view on Park because she had said to a lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party, “Are you a human? No, I don’t think so.”

A person nominated as a deputy spokesperson of the ruling party had to resign also in early last month for rough words he had posted on his social network service account. In March last year, he posted that women should not come forward so that a country can develop. In the post he mentioned female politicians such as former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook, United Progressive Party head Lee Jung-hee, and even President Park Geun-hye. The ruling Saenuri Party recently launched a public contest for disrespectful words toward the party, which was titled, “Diss the Saenuri Party! We welcome swears and curses!” People in their 20s and 30s could participate in the competition for rewards.

People who swear might be able to relieve some stress, but those who are the target of the words or bystanders get stressed. This may be likened to a situation that a plant owner makes money while others suffer from pollution caused by wastewater discharged from the plant. Disrespect words also create an “external diseconomic effect” like this, causing harm to the sentiment of the society.

What should people who cannot swear do when they are forced to tolerate harsh remarks in a society where people enjoy games of rough words and use such words in everyday life? The following is a story in a foreign magazine long time ago:

One day in the 1970s, a middle-aged man was sitting in a bus in London. When the bus stopped at a bus stop, a young blond woman got on the bus and stood beside him. The man stood up and tried to yield the seat for her only to hear unexpected answer. “My legs are strong enough. There’s no reason for you to yield your seat just because I’m a lady.” The young woman was a worshipper of feminism that was sweeping the Western world at that time.

Instead of feeling embarrassed or irritated, the middle-aged man said in a low-pitched smooth voice, “I’m yielding my seat, not because you are a lady, but because I’m a gentleman.” Hopefully, this story would be better to be remembered by those who would have an urge to react with more harsh words after being enraged by disrespectful remarks surrounding them.