For a certain group of people, Korea now seems to be in political and social turmoil, with two former presidents “unfairly” imprisoned within the past year, and the so-called #Me Too movement “unduly” shaking the nation like a storm. Some even denounce criminal charges laid against ex-leaders as “political revenge,” while others worry about the abuse of widespread public revelations of sexual misconduct allegations. However, it should be pointed out that such people are completely missing the point of the current phenomena sweeping the nation: Korea is now setting foot on the threshold of a new era, hopefully with no more political corruption or sexual abuse at all levels of society. Of course, historically, no government has been completely free from a misuse of power, and no society has entirely removed sexual violence from the government, work, school, or even the home.
Nevertheless, however painful or shameful, it is vital to detect, expose, and correct wrongdoings, which is the first step toward making a better world now and tomorrow. There is only one way for our country to be strong and healthy; we must hold those political leaders and sexual predators accountable for what they have done so far with impunity. Failing to eradicate long-standing political and social irregularities and unjust practices is doomed to lead this country again to another generation of the chronic or recurrent condition called accumulated evil, an evil that has distorted the image of Korea for a long time in modern history. In this respect, we must wait and see how our legal system serves justice to those responsible, and we must offer support to sex abuse victims who dare to expose themselves to the public even in this terrible victim-blaming environment.
There is one thing in common that the overwhelming majority of people demand in the current political and social climate—zero tolerance for crimes committed by people with any type of authority, public or private. This is a demand that we cannot dispense with on the road to prosperity coupled with cleanliness and gender equality for our future. It is true that the world knows how heavy a price modern Korea has paid for democracy, and how hard people have worked to make this country prosper, empowered by high-end technologies and brilliant global brands. In the field of music, for one more example, K-pop has become a global phenomenon known as “the Korean Wave,” driving pop culture throughout the world.
Unfortunately, however, our political system lags woefully behind economic growth and cultural progress. Partisan politicians are always inclined to mislead the public to such a degree as to polarize and divide the nation by regionalism and ideology for their own political gain, especially whenever elections take place. This means they are no better than demagogues who seek support by employing prejudice and instigation. Regarding gender equality, we are still living in a male-dominated society, strongly influenced by traditional Confucian ethics and rigid hierarchies in all areas of life. It is no wonder that those in authority have been able to do whatever they wanted because no one could stop them, whether it was an abuse of power, greed, or sexual misconduct. People demand not only justice, but also common sense in politics, and a balance of power between men and women. That is the reason zero tolerance is important; it will help prevent history from repeating itself in the future.
Now is the time to make this country free from corruption and sexual violence through a thorough investigation of all criminal charges against two former presidents and sex offenders. The #Me Too movement must continue until every woman is treated with dignity and respect in every corner of society. In this respect, Korea is not in trouble, but in the process of change and reform, Korea is in a situation that entails our patience, support, and encouragement. Though painful at the moment, this process will surely overcome adversity and lead us to a better environment in the long run. Let us hope that Korea will be different from the past in the years to come.
Park, Youngwon, Dept. of English
The Chungdae Post -
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