Frankly I don’t know what to call this thing in English — validating arguments by which side the arguer stands for, rather than by logic or reason. Koreans used to call this “camp logic(진영논리)” and I tried to find out what English term is out there for something like this in Google but well, I couldn’t find any. Indeed human beings are political animal and there is nothing peculiar being herded together and building a certain camp, like a party, but there is something peculiar in the collective mind of SK. Here I’m trying to draw something out from it.
It would come in handy to describe, at first, the recent boom of camp logic. In the beginning, there was a podcast. What? A podcast? Yes, it was I’m a Weasel, the first-time-ever national hit podcast (though being armed with the all-time No.1 internet bandwidth, podcast hadn’t been popular in SK because oligarchies in the cellphone market had been trying their best to block iPhone from landing on SK soil. It took 3 years for iPhone to finally land on SK. Believe it or not, iPhone caused a considerable power shift in the SK mobile phone market…). I think you still don’t know how big was the podcast in SK. Not just some popular online talk show, it had a political power to put momentum behind something. I was in Seoul Plaza at the day when Park Won-soon was elected as the new mayor of Seoul in the last year, with a crowd celebrating his victory and I heard people saying “without I’m a Weasel, how could this ever happen?” and all sorts like that to each other. Among all the podcast contributed to SK politics, foremost was turning young voters’ mind, formerly indifferent and felt hopeless, to politics.
All this was possible thanks to, with my tongue both in and out of cheek, Pres. Lee Myung-bak. He has been a symbol ofdishonesty, corruption and oppression through his presidency, only Silvio Berlusconi can match for. He drew a very clear, distinct line around himself and his associates in the GNP almost in the Manichean manner so everyone opposes him easily made oneself looked like, ironically, on the good side. This taught us a funny lesson: you don’t have to be actually good to be seen as a good one as long as your opponent is doing evil all the time — just oppose him! Well, we all know there is no perfectly good people in politics but when you see someone purely evil you might get caught in the Manichean frame of thought, making you believe opponents against pure evil would be pure good.
And there came the second boom: Kwak No-hyun, the education chief of Seoul, was arrested on bribery charges. It was probably true that there was a political consideration upon the prosecution, Kwak being the very first “liberal” education chief of Seoul, and that his request for bail was denied unfairly to interrupt his superintendency, however he admitted his giving money to his rival candidate in return for the rival’s withdrawal.
There were bitter observations among the so-called liberal newspapers in SK, the Hankyoreh and the Kyunghyang, calling for his immediate resignation right after his arrest. But the public opinion went upside down after I’m a Weasel supported Kwak, criticizing those who called for his resignation as team-killers, moralists. A torrent of support for Kwak soon followed, some commentator even argued to “throw your ethics to the dogs.” The debate has reignited after he was found guilty at his first trial a week ago. Supporters showed a great distrust against the current judiciary system, denouncing judges as dogs of the President.
Distrust against the judiciary further intensified with the release of the film Unbowed, which is strictly polemic against the judiciary. Some criticized the film being too lopsided to the plaintiff, a former college professor who had paid a visit personally to a judge, who dismissed a rescissory action of his discharge from the college, with a crossbow and a knife and allegedly (this being an issue of the case) fired a bow to the judge. The film is making success anyway.
Years ago, people hoped a lot when Roh Moo-hyun, the former Pres. had been elected — none of us ever doubted his authenticity, wholeheartedness for reforming the country for the people, humble commoners, until we have found out that he was driving the country along the sign of neo-liberalism. The supporters were heavily confused and soon disintegrated. Still, the (former) President seemed as though he haven’t lost his wholeheartedness and that was pushing them deeper into bewilderment. Technocrats remained undiminished in the government and they diffused and distorted any attempts on reform. One of tragedies in the history of SK politics is that a single individual in politics is often misunderstood to be the whole government itself and the people’s praise and blame are always directed at the individual. Well, it seems inevitable for indirect democracy — one of us has to be chosen anyway.
The line had became opaque, leaving the people confused, but in the next turn Pres. Lee came and drew the line clearly more than ever. With the general election (April) and the presidential election (December) incoming, remnants of the former ruling party and supporters of Pres. Roh are gathering together, being sure of their victory. Voters seem to forgot what had led them into confusion.