Saturday, April 28, 2007

South Korean politicians consumed by the upcoming presidential elections

According to this Yonhap piece, many South Korean citizens and citizen groups have criticized politicians for their lack of response and general inaction to the increased nationalism in Japan. Apparently, South Korean politicians are too busy with the upcoming presidential election that no one can or is willing to do anything about Abe's remarks denying government responsibility in coercing "comfort women" and new Japanese textbooks that gloss over wartime history and claim Dokdo as Japanese territory. This is especially notable given the U.S. political attention to these issues.

On the one hand, it seems that in the recent past, South Korean politicians have initiated political action to spur anti-Japanese sentiment, by protesting with the surviving comfort women at the Japanese embassy, releasing names of collaborators, adopting resolutions condemning Tokyo -- but all to little avail. Given the hegemonic power of Japan, little more could have been done without international attention from an even bigger power.

Still, I can agree with the comment from Chae Soo-young of the Citizens Forum for Comfort Women, that it is "shameful that our parliament did not have any resolution carried out when the resolution is expected to be adopted in the United States, where there is no direct sufferer."

The article comments that "with less than nine months to the presidential poll, parties are increasingly engrossed in attacking each other or regrouping to form a group with better chances of an election victory." Given how these contentious issues with Japan are deeply ingrained in the public consciousness, I'm a bit surprised at how politicians have not utilized these hot-button issues as a mechanism to gain popular support.

On another note, this article reminded me of Aaron Sorkin's wisdom in The American President, when Micheal Douglas, as President Shepherd admits, "I was too busy trying to keep my job, I forgot to do my job." If only all politicians (American, Korean, and Japanese) could live up to Sorkin's moral compass (sigh).


Sean said...

Hey, there ARE countries where all politicians live up to Sorkin's moral compass - North Korea and Cuba. Just kidding. Sorry, I'm just not a big fan of The American President.

Jaime said...

Ok Sean, you called me on it. I did just want to get an Aaron Sorkin quote on the blog. I will admit that "The American President," while still very good in my humble opinion, was not his finest work. I'm partial to "A Few Good Men" and the first season of "SportsNight." I suppose the next time someone references "truth," I could launch into "you can't handle the truth..."

Sean said...

OK, yeah, A Few Good Men is just awesome. I can't resist posting what could be my favorite monologue ever: "Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Whose gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to."