Vingt Regards sur la Foule

Are the masses a creative, revolutionary multitude? Or ignorant, miserable asses that are condemned to be swayed by a series of manipulators? Maybe both, maybe neither. Critics, pundits and eggheads once praised them when the numerous candles had lightened up the Seoul Plaza in 2008 and later despise them after the voter turnout stayed low.

Right after the election of Park Won-soon, the current mayor of Seoul, they were wowed by the influence of I’m a Weasel podcast that drew even younger generations into polling stations. But soon the podcast politics backfired.

One of the co-hosts of the podcast, a former MP Jung Bong-joo, was sentenced to a year in prison–which also means, according to the electoral law, to Mr. Jung that he will not be able to be elected to any public office for the next ten years after he served his sentence. Somehow the other one of the co-hosts, Kim Yong-min announced his candidacy for the MP of the jailed friend’s district and the influential podcast crossed the line to directly impact on realpolitik.

Then a backfire began. From the CJD. established media ring and every skeptics, though their reasons were varied–the ironclad CJD ring couldn’t let the abominable, humble podcast affect politics than they could and skeptics weren’t convinced that a total novice of politics can do his job well in the parliament.

Right before the voting day, the CJD broke the news of Mr. Kim’s raunchy (and unfunny) jokes that were made 8 years ago. Even a day before the vote, the aftermath decorated every front pages of the CJD and Mr. Kim failed to win the election.

The real backfire hadn’t began yet. To every critic’s shock, the ruling NFP again gained its majority in spite of a series of maladministration of the MB government. Everyone was looking for someone to blame and the podcast was the first in the queue. For decent or indecent reasons, the podcast had to suffer backfire from everywhere and the fandom reacted.

The fans of the podcast took a potshot to every media outlets at which an article critical to the podcast was posted and even the Hankyoreh and the Kyunghyang, which are usually categorized into progressive, were not an exception, if not harsher. It seemed that they couldn’t bear even a reasonable criticism, responding in the same frenzy manner as they did with immoderate accusations from the CJD. The same, creative and revolutionary crowd, with a candle in their hand, was behaving like a frenzy, hypersensitive mob.

The mob mentality does not allow a criticism within. A day before I began to wrote this blog post, some activists reported their ordeal they suffered while doing a one-man protest a month ago. Amid the massive protest against the current government’s illegal surveillance case, they were protesting against the cover-up of a sexual harassment case, done by former chairman of the Korean teachers’ union, one of the proportional representation candidates of the UPP. These women suffered verbal violence from the surveillance protesters around, being objurgated for being “a double agent of the NFP or the CJD.”

Those who verbally attacked the inside critics would probably had joined to 2008’s candle mass, I guess. Have they changed or have we been idealizing what we were seeing? Or did we miss something? However, we should keep a few step away from what we want to believe, to see, perceive and recognize what it exactly is. Frivolous hopes soon often lead to false rejections. Only zealous praisers turn into fanatic scorners. They’ve been gazing into their wants rather than reality itself.


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