The Korea Times 칼럼

dante 2011. 10. 22. 08:35

오늘 아침 코리아타임스에 제 칼럼이 실리는 날인데 어떤 이유인지 실리지 않았습니다. 2004년 3월 5일부터 "Random Walk"라는 제목의 칼럼을 연재해왔지만 이런 일은 처음입니다. 혹시 제 글이 한나라당의 서울시장 후보 나경원 씨에 대해 쓴 글이라서 실리지 않은 걸까요?

 

그 글은 지난 월요일 한겨레신문에서 나 후보를 지지하는 대학생의 글을 읽고 썼습니다. 제목에서 보듯 '나 후보에 대해 다시 생각해보라'는 요지입니다. 후보나 선거운동하는 사람들이 하는 말에 휘둘리지 말고 스스로 후보에 대한 자료를 찾아보고 검증한 후 누구를 지지할지 정하라고 썼습니다.

 

머리도 좋지 않은데다 집중력도 전과 같지 않아 글 하나를 쓰려면 시간이 꽤 걸립니다. 그렇게 써 보낸 글이 왜 실리지 않은 건지 궁금하지만 곧 알게 되겠지요. 이왕 쓴 글, 여기에 실어둡니다.

 

 

Rethink Na Kyung-won

 

Dear Hyo-bin-ssi, when I came across your article on why you support Na Kyung-won, the ruling Grand National Party’s Seoul mayor candidate, over the unified opposition candidate Park Won-soon, I had to read it because I was curious to know why a young collegian would want to see another mayor from the government party after all these years of imbalanced administration by GNP mayors – Lee Myung-bak, the incumbent President, and Oh Se-hoon, a well-known presidential hopeful.

 

The government and its sister party are blamed for, among other things, exorbitant tuition fees at colleges and universities, the increase of temporary employees and unemployed young men and women, consumer prices surging at the fastest pace in recent years, and the snowballing growth of Seoul city administration’s debt and fiscal deficit, as well as household borrowings.

 

In your article printed on the vernacular Hankyoreh Shinmun on Monday, you said you found Na’s policies to be more concrete than Park’s during their televised debates. I watched them, too, and I would say Na was plausible. Expressing frustration over Seoul’s debt of 25.5 trillion won, you said Seoul needed Na’s measures to cut it and that she should be elected despite the former GNP mayor because “A new change takes place on the basis of the past instead of total rejection of it.” I wonder if you know the debt more than tripled to the current figure under the two GNP mayors.

 

Reading your article was like reading a GNP leaflet. The way you reasoned and the terms you used were almost identical to those of Na’s and her party’s that I wondered if you were working for them.

 

If you truly believe “a new change takes place on the basis of the past,” you need to look into the past record and present doings of the candidate and her party to see if there is any hint of positive change for the future. For me, I see nothing but repetition of the old GNP ways as proven by Na’s tactics focused on smearing Park and the prosecution’s crackdown on “illegal” election campaigning. They used to target unfavorable speakers; now they aim at Twitter and other social networking services. Why? Because Park’s supporters are younger and are much more active on SNS.

 

Dear Hyo-bin-ssi, please go through your own process of weighing the candidates instead of believing what they say. As a collegian majoring in political science, you need to do that more than anybody else. There are piles of information about what they have done so far. You could at least read about them on the Korean language Wikipedia (http://ko.wikipedia.org).  

 

Since you say you support Na, let me say a few things about her.

 

She and her rival Park have common backgrounds as the prestigious Seoul National University students and lawyers, but their paths have been strikingly different. Born to a well-to-do family in Seoul, Na has pursued fame and wealth whereas Park, a poor farmer’s son from a remote village in South Gyeongsang Province, devoted his life to public interest and social reform. No wonder, Na is rich with over 4 billion won in savings and properties, whereas Park has a debt of 372 million won.

 

Na has been eager to pose for the camera; Park seldom made public appearance before the on-going mayoral race. Last year, in the wake of the sinking of the frigate Cheonan, Na drew criticism by having her photo taken while she was paying homage to a fallen officer. Last month, she again angered people by bathing a 14-year-old boy in nude in front of flashing media cameras at a Seoul institution for people with special needs.

 

As a lawmaker of the 17th-term National Assembly, active from 2004 to 2008, Na initiated 28 law bills and succeeded in getting five bills passed. During the 18th-term Assembly, she promoted 19 law bills and only one of them was passed. Her achievement wasn’t good: lawmakers promoted an average of 36.9 bills and recorded passage rate of 23.7 percent since the 18th-term Assembly was launched in May 2008.

 

Perhaps because she has been rich all her life, Na has been friendly towards the rich and the powerful as seen in the nature of the bills she pushed. She led the abolition of the equity investment ceiling system to the applause of big business conglomerates. She also played a leading role in GNP’s railroading of four media-related law revisions feared to allow a few powerful conservative dailies into broadcasting business. She also promoted the so-called ‘cyber defamation law’ amid fears that such a law would undermine freedom of speech in the cyberspace.

 

Last Saturday, Na’s twitter was streaming with retweets praising her features, policies and activities and they were soon found to have been sent out from her own accounts by her own people. The next day, those texts were deleted and her campaigners said that Na’s twitter caused “confusion” due to “systems’ clashes.”  

 

Dear Hyo-bin-ssi, you have four days left before the election. I hope you will take a closer, objective look at the candidates without listening or watching them. Remember the law of inertia applies not only to matters but also to people. Even if you are working for Na to earn your tuition, you can think and act free. Inside the polling booth, you are all on your own.

 

 
 
 

The Korea Times 칼럼

dante 2011. 10. 7. 21:39

기네스북에 '가장 많은 사건이 가장 빨리 일어나는 나라'라는 부문이 있다면 우리나라가 세계기록 보유국이 될 것 같습니다. 끊임없이 무슨 일인가가 일어나는데 대개는 나쁜 일이 많습니다. 지난 달 후반부터 신문의 헤드라인을 장식한 사건들, 수치심을 자아내는가 하면 조롱을 자초한 일들도 있습니다.

 

우선 이멍박 대통령이 자신의 정부가 '도덕적으로 완벽'하다고 해서 웃음거리가 된 일이 있습니다. 

이 대통령의 발언이 있고 이틀 후 임태희 대통령 비서실장은 이 대통령의 말은 재벌들로부터 돈을 받은 적이 없다는 뜻이라고 말했습니다. 임 실장의 말은 박원순 서울시장 후보를 겨냥한 말로 받아들여졌습니다. 박 후보가 만든 아름다운 재단이 재벌회사들로부터 기부금을 받은 사실을 비난하려 한 것이지요. 그러나 아름다운 재단처럼 돈의 출입을 투명하게 밝히는 단체도 없습니다. 재단 홈페이지에 입출금 기록이 계속 게재되니까요. 더구나 아름다운 재단은 박 후보의 것이 아닙니다. 공익재단으로서 우리나라 기부문화의 발전을 선도하고 있습니다.

 

영화 '도가니'는 전국을 수치심과 분노의 도가니에 빠져들게 했습니다. 영화의 내용이 지어낸 얘기가 아니고 광주 청각 장애인 학교 인화학교에서 있었던 장애인 성폭행 실화를, 그것도 수위를 낮추어 만든 작품이기 때문입니다. 장애인 제자를 성폭행한 선생들과 교장들에게 내려진 가벼운 형량과 집행유예, 그들이 여전히 교사 노릇을 할 수 있게 한 재단, 그 재단에 계속 지원금을 지급한 나라... 이 나라가 진실로 '국민을 위한' 나라라면 인화학교 사건에 직접, 간접으로 관련된 모든 사람이 지금쯤 감옥에 있어야 하지만 실제는 그렇지가 않습니다.

 

영화 관객이 3백만 명을 넘으면서 구멍 뚫린 사회복지사업법의 개정을 소리 높혀 주장하는 정치인들이 많습니다. 특히 한나라당에 그런 사람들이 많은데, 막상 장애인차별철폐연대에서는 법 개정 이전에 한나라당의 사과를 요구합니다. 그것은 2006년 11월에 발의되었던 개정안이 한나라당 때문에 자동 폐기되었기 때문입니다.

 

당시 현애자 민주노동당 의원은 복지재단 이사진의 3분의 1을 공익이사로 선임하도록 하는 복지사업법 개정안을 발의했습니다. 2007년 1월엔 보건복지부가 공익이사를 4분의 1 선임하는 것을 골자로 한 복지사업법 개정안을 입법예고했습니다. 그러나 복지재단의 절반 이상을 운영하는 보수 개신교계의 대표격인 한국기독교총연합회 등이 개정안 결사반대를 주장했고, 한나라당도 사립학교법의 공익이사제와 같은 맥락에서 사회복지사업법의 공익이사제에 반대했습니다. 결국 여야의 입장이 맞서다가 개정안은 본회의에 상정도 되지 못했으며, 개정안은 2008 5 17대 국회가 끝나면서 자동 폐기됐습니다.

이런 일들을 생각하면 이 나라에 희망이 있는가 하는 생각이 들지만, 아직 이 나라엔 희망이 있습니다. 그 증거 중 하나가 박원순 후보입니다. 시민운동가로 알려져 있는 박 후보는  '성희롱'이 범죄임을 법정에서 증명한 우리나라 최초의 변호사입니다. 이 나라에 희망이 있다면 그가 서울시장으로 당선될 것입니다. 서울시장은 서울의 시장 이상의 의미를 갖는 자리이니까요. 그가 서울시장으로 당선되지 못한다면 이 나라는 앞으로도 한동안 비인간적 '도가니' 속에서 헤매이게 될 것입니다. 

*                     *                      *

 

If the Guinness Book of World Records had a category recording nations with the fastest turn of events, this Republic will top them all.

When you think you have heard everything, something new pops up usually for the worse. Since late September, a series of scandals made headlines after headlines, causing shame and mockery among the people. It will be both interesting and meaningful to reflect on these happenings and key characters one by one.

First, mockery. President Lee Myung-bak volunteered to become an object of ridicule by making an unwarranted claim that his government was ``morally perfect” on Sept. 30 in a meeting with senior presidential secretaries.

He may have said so to present a moment of laughter for his compatriots suffering from soaring life expenses, but best intentions don’t necessarily bring best results and his words got as many as 20,000 sarcastic replies no sooner than they were floated on the Internet.

On the very day he made the remark, the vernacular daily Hankook Ilbo printed an editorial with a question mark ― ``The President’s relatives, are they under control?” ― lamenting yet another addition to misconducts by Lee’s kinsmen.

On Sunday or two days after Lee boasted of being ``morally perfect,” his chief of staff, Yim Tae-hee came out in defense of his boss, explaining that what Lee meant was he hadn’t received any money from business conglomerates.

Yim’s words were construed as being targeted at Park Won-soon, the civic activist-lawyer, who was then vying to become a unified opposition candidate for Seoul mayoral race. Yim confirmed such allegation by saying that if the donations received by Park’s organization had not been for purely humanitarian purposes, they could pose a serious problem.

It is well-known that the Beautiful Foundation founded by Park has heralded the nation’s campaign for sharing even after he left it to launch the Hope Institute, a private think-tank focusing on policy alternatives. BF is also famous for its clean management of fund: Its website has a section showing how money comes and goes all time.

Affirming all donations have gone into the foundation and its charities, Park pointed out that Yim was violating the election laws by intervening in the mayoral contest whereas he, as a government official, should maintain political neutrality. In a nutshell, Park won the all-opposition ticket and Yim may have inadvertently contributed to the activist’s win.

Second, shame. Since the dramatic film ``Dogani,” or ``Crucible,” was put on 815 screens across the country on Sept. 22, shame gripped the nation amid boiling public resentment. More than 3 million have seen the film so far, including President Lee, Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae, and Rep. Hong Joon-pyo, chairman of the ruling Grand National Party.

The movie shows how female students at a special institution for the hearing impaired fall victims to sexual assaults of their own teachers at their own school and how the heinous crimes are dealt with in the court. The film is based on a 2009 novel of the same title by Gong Ji-young, one of the most popular writers in Korea. Gong wrote the novel by delving into what really happened to students, aged between seven and 22, at Inhwa School in Gwangju over five years from 2000.

In actuality, the offenders were convicted but not all of them were ousted from the school thanks to their ties to its foundation. The court was kind enough to the criminals to withhold the execution of what light sentences given to them. The school could keep on getting government funding owing to the loopholes in the Social Welfare Business Law. If the government worked ``for the people,” most of those involved in the case would be behind bars now.

With the success of the film, the authorities concerned have decided to close down the foundation operating Inhwa and a few other institutions and politicians are noisily promoting the flawed law’s revision. However, many cool-headed observers wonder if the on-going heat would produce something tangible to improve the situation and rights of people with special needs. Sexual crimes against them increased markedly from 199 in 2007 to 320 last year. During the first eight months of this year, 385 such cases were reported.

Underlying this increase are the loose laws and lenient courts, yet there are people who think differently and President Lee seems to be one of them; Hours after seeing the film, he said that to prevent similar incidents overall reform of social consciousness was more needed than legal and systematic supplementation. Perhaps, he has forgotten that change of laws and legal systems is the first step to reform ``social consciousness.”

Skepticism runs deep for the much touted revision of the ``Social Welfare Business Law” for justifiable reasons. In November 2006, a Democratic Labor Party lawmaker initiated a revision to the law, making it mandatory for welfare foundations to fill one-third of their boards with non-related public directors. In January 2007, the Ministry of Health and Welfare advanced a notice for the revision, lowering the ``one-third” to ``one-fourth.”

However, the conservative Protestant groups, that operated more than half of such foundations, feverishly opposed the revision and GNP took their side. Finally in May 2008, the revision bill was scrapped. This is why the nationwide Society for Abolition of Discrimination against the Disabled (SADD) is demanding that the ruling party apologize first and revise the law later.

With all these shameful records, one may see little hope for the nation to become truly civilized in spite of its economic power. However, there certainly is hope and one outstanding sign is Park Won-soon, the first lawyer who brought ``sexual harassment” into the nation’s courtrooms in 1990s and earned a victory for a powerless victim over a powerful offender. With less than three weeks remaining until the by-election on Oct. 26, the ruling party and Yim and other president’s men will struggle desperately to smear Park because, as everyone knows, the upcoming election is not simply about a Seoul mayor.

If Korea has hope, Park will defeat the ruling party candidate. If not, the nation will probably remain in an inhumane ``Dogani” for sometime more.

 
 
 

The Korea Times 칼럼

dante 2011. 9. 24. 10:59

When I let my frustration out in an article in this column in August, I didn’t expect I would get the needed answer from a respectable celebrity within a month.

To my relief and delight, however, I did get one and the godsend is Maestro Chung Myung-whun, the world-renowned conductor-pianist, and a member of the unrivalled Chung Trio.

In the article headlined ``Barenboim vs. Oh Se-hoon,” for which I feel sorry for the first man for putting his name together with the second, I talked about the overwhelming impression I had had from the Aug. 15 Peace Concert featuring Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 presented by Maestro Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.

It was so damp and hot on that evening and Barenboim had to wipe off his sweat a few times while conducting the youths from conflicting Middle East countries, yet he made every effort to show what music could do when peace was at stake.

The orchestra was founded in 1999 by Barenboim and Edward Said, the late Palestinian-American academic, to encourage people ``to think and feel alike, to get together and feel one huge common lung” as the maestro once said. After watching and listening to the Divan’s performance, I could tell their efforts were succeeding in great ways.

So, in my column on Aug.27, I expressed frustration about the lack of such musical endeavor in this part of the world. ``It is unfortunate that we, South and North Korea, don’t have our own Divan whereas we need such an endeavor more than any other people in the world, being the only divided nation on the globe,” I wrote.

As if he read me, Maestro Chung announced last week that he had agreed with North Korean musicians to create a joint symphony orchestra and hold regular performances in the two Koreas. Speaking to reporters after a four-day visit to the Communist North, Chung said that he, the music director of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, had signed a memorandum of intent to the effect with the North Korean Association for Art Exchange.

``If the South and North governments approve, I wish young musicians from both sides will stay and practice together for about ten days, alternating Seoul and Pyongyang, and present a joint performance at this year-end … I haven’t heard opposition from the (South) Korean government and thus will push the project with hope." He said concert proceeds would be donated to help the needy in the North.

The Maestro said he had wished artistic exchange with North Korea all his life, yet it couldn’t take place due to political reasons. ``I am grateful that I have this opportunity.” He said the orchestra would be composed of an equal number of musicians from the two sides. ``Personally, I want the joint orchestra to perform Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 'Choral' in Seoul and Pyongyang at the end of the year."

During his visit, Chung met the North Korean State Symphony Orchestra and conducted rehearsals of the fledgling Eunhasu (meaning ``Milky Way”) Orchestra for seven hours. ``The North Korean musicians played Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 for the first time during a rehearsal on Sept. 13 and their performance was of very high quality.” He also attended auditions of seven musicians and ``experienced the North Korean education system pursuing accuracy and clear articulation.”

I am particularly happy to note that the first such inter-Korean exchange is being promoted by none other than Chung, because he and his two sisters _ cellist Myung-wha and violinist Kyung-wha _ were on my mind while I was writing the article. I thought the trio or any of the three would be most suitable for the historic mission not simply for musical but also for personal reasons; the trio’s devoted mother-mentor, Mrs. Lee Won-sook, was a native of Wonsan, North Korea. It is regrettable that she passed away last May. Had she been alive, she would have rendered all-out support for the musical exchange as she had for her children’s musical career.


Politicians and government officials on both sides are hoped to abstain from pestering Maestro Chung for his enthusiastic move, humbly recognizing that they had failed to build a common ground where people of the two sides could truly share something. I hope they will appreciate what the honorable conductor is doing for the nation and join me in wishing for his music to prevail over the national division and eventually enable the communists and capitalists in the two halves to ``feel one huge common lung.”

I wonder if and what the conductor will name the joint orchestra. I don’t think he will make another Divan. As I wrote in my earlier article, the Divan came from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s anthology of poems symbolizing East-West harmony. If the orchestra were an inter-governmental creation, it is highly likely to be called ``Peace” or ``Tongil” meaning ``reunification.” However, those words don’t seem to fit the artist’s sensitivity.

If I may put in my two cents, I would call it ``Kimchi” or ``Bibim” Symphony Orchestra. Kimchi is Korea’s indigenous side dish: Whether you live in the south or the north, you make and eat Kimchi. The northerners make whiter, less spicy Kimchi than their compatriots in the south and the tradition is rooted largely on the weather. In warmer areas, Kimchi ferments easily and should be made with a little more salt and spice to keep its original flavor. ``Bibim” means mixing various ingredients without compromising each of their tastes. A good example would be bibim-bap or mixed rice mixed with a variety of seasoned vegetables. The Maestro is welcome to use either of my proposals for free. Dear Maestro, whether you like my suggestions or not, I salute you for your endeavor. Thank you.

 

 

지난 주  지휘자이며 피아니스트인 정명훈 씨가 남북한 음악가들로 구성된 오케스트라를 구성하겠다고 말했습니다. 3박4일 동안 북한을 방문, 조선예술교류협회와 남북 합동 교향악단의 정례 연주회도 추진하기로 했다고 합니다. 남북한 젊은 음악가들을 같은 수로 모아 오케스트라를 구성하고 서울과 평양에서 번갈아 열흘 정도 함께 생활하며 연습하게 해서 연말에 합동 연주뢰를 열고 싶다고 합니다. 가능하면 올 연말 합동 연주회에서 베토벤 9번 교향곡 '합창'을 연주하고 싶다고 합니다.

 

지난 8월 15일 임진각 평화누리에서 열린 '평화콘서트'에 다녀온 후  코리아타임스 제 칼럼 'Random Walk'에 'Barenboim vs. Oh Se-hoon'이라는 제목의 칼럼을 썼습니다. 평화콘서트에서 감동적인 연주를 들려준 West-Eastern Divan오케스트라 얘기를 하며, 왜 세계 유일의 분단국인 한반도에는 그런 오케스트라가 없는지 안타까운 마음을 토로했습니다. 바렌보임과 팔레스타인계 미국인 학자 에드워드 사이드가 구성한 Divan의 연주자들은 갈등이 끊이지 않는 중동 국가의 젊은이들로, 바렌보임은 그런 지역 사람들이 '한 자리에 모여 하나의 허파로 숨 쉬게 하는 것'이 Divan의 목표라고 말한 바 있습니다.

 

코리아타임스 8월 27일 자에 실린 그 칼럼을 쓸 때 저는 정트리오를 생각했습니다. 정명훈 서울시립교향악단 예술감독 겸 유니세프 친선대사, 그리고 그의 두 누이인 첼리스트 정명화 씨와 바이올리니스트 정경화 씨야말로 그런 오케스트라의 산파역에 적임자라는 생각이 들었습니다. 어쩌면 지난 5월에 타계하신 그들의 어머님, 이원숙 여사님이 북한 출신이라 더욱 그런 생각을 했는지도 모릅니다.

 

그러니 지난 주 정명훈 씨가 남북 합동 교향악단을 구성하겠다고 했을 때 제가 얼마나 기뻤을지 짐작하실 수 있을 겁니다. 정 감독은 "북한과의 음악 교류는 평생 원해 온 일인데 항상 정치적 이류로 무산됐다"며 이런 기회가 온 것을 감사한다고 했습니다. 남북한 정부가 그를 응원하고 도와주기를 진심으로 바랍니다. 남북한 음악가들이 한 자리에 모여 연주하고 남북한 사람들이 하나의 허파로 그 음악을 들이킬 수 있기를 바랍니다.

 

이 오케스트라의 이름을 정 감독이 뭐라고 지을지 궁금합니다. 양측 정부가 추진해서 한다면 틀림없이 '평화' 또는 '통일'이라고 지을 것 같습니다. 그러나 그 단어들은 좋은 의미를 갖고 있긴 하지만 음악적이 아닙니다.

 

감히 제안하자면 '김치' 혹은 '비빔' 오케스트라가 어떨까 합니다. 남북한이든 어디에 살든 우리는 모두 김치를 먹습니다. '김치'는 우리를 '하나'로 묶는 암호 같은 것입니다. '비빔'은 여러 가지 요소를 섞어 새로운 것을 만들어내지만 그 요소 각자의 맛을 파괴하지 않습니다. '김치'와 '비빔'처럼 그 오케스트라의 취지에 잘 부합하는 것도 없을 것 같습니다. 정 감독이 제 제안을 받아들일지 어떨 지는 알 수 없는 일이지만, 아무튼 저는 정 감독에게 깊이 감사하며 그의 뜻이 꼭 이루어지기를 축원합니다.