Let’s give Kim Jong-un taste of democ­racy

Here are two columns — one about North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s ex­pected visit to Seoul and the other about Kore­ans’ en­thu­si­asm about “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody,” the movie about rock group Queen’s leader Fred­die Mer­cury. — ED.

The Korea Times - - OPINION - Oh Young-jin (fools­[email protected], fools­[email protected]­re­atimes.co.kr) is the dig­i­tal manag­ing ed­i­tor of The Korea Times.

By all in­di­ca­tions, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un will likely visit Seoul be­fore the end of this year. He promised this dur­ing Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in’s visit to Py­ongyang in Septem­ber.

The me­dia has been spec­u­lat­ing on the dates but they have so far been de­nied.

Moon, on his way to New Zealand aboard Air Force One dur­ing his re­cent over­seas tour, re­vealed U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had cleared Kim’s visit be­fore the se­cond Kim-Trump sum­mit.

There is no rea­son to block Kim’s visit to the South. It is bet­ter to wel­come him, be­cause there is a chance the trip will help ease in­ter-Korean ten­sions, push the two coun­tries fur­ther along a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion path and dis­arm Kim of his nu­clear weapons and mis­siles.

But the visit should be made within the frame­work of our demo­cratic sys­tem.

For ex­am­ple, anti-Kim Jong-un de­mon­stra­tions should be al­lowed, as long as they do not vi­o­late the law re­lated to assem­bly and ex­pres­sion. That means pro­test­ers should not re­sort to vi­o­lence or break away from des­ig­nated ar­eas.

The same non-vi­o­lence rules should ap­ply to those who sup­port Kim’s visit. For violators on both sides, penal­ties should be fairly and strongly im­posed.

So if Kim’s mo­tor­cade goes through Gwang­haw­mun boule­vard, pro­test­ers and sup­port­ers should equally be al­lo­cated ar­eas to ex­press their feel­ings to the vis­i­tor.

If Kim wants to make an im­pact like Moon did when he min­gled with North Korean res­i­dents dur­ing his Py­ongyang visit, it should be left to his dis­cre­tion.

How­ever, the le­gal sta­tus of those who sup­port the visit re­quires keen at­ten­tion. Although it has not been ac­tively en­forced, the anti-North Korean Na­tional Se­cu­rity Law that bans sup­port for the North has not been abol­ished. This ex­poses the sup­port­ers to the risk of le­gal trou­ble if the con­ser­va­tives take over gov­ern­ment.

That is why the Moon gov­ern­ment should bring the op­po­si­tion on board for Kim’s visit.

Mean­while, the op­po­si­tion is de­mand­ing that Kim visit the Na­tional Ceme­tery to pay re­spects to the sol­diers who died in the 1950-53 Korean War and of­fer apolo­gies for the North trig­ger­ing the con­flict that killed or maimed mil­lions.

The op­po­si­tion finds it­self in a po­si­tion to make a rea­son­able de­mand be­cause the peo­ple yearn for peace on the Korean Penin­sula as much as for jus­tice for the North’s past ag­gres­sion.

Some ar­gue that Kim should be given a chance to ad­dress hun­dreds of thou­sands of South Kore­ans, af­ter Moon took the op­por­tu­nity to speak to thou­sands of North Kore­ans dur­ing his Py­ongyang visit.

In the South, where Moon was elected by the peo­ple and uses pow­ers man­dated by rules gov­ern­ing his of­fice, a North Korean-style Potemkin show would not be pos­si­ble.

So now a speech at the Na­tional Assem­bly is be­ing pon­dered as a com­pro­mise be­cause the law­mak­ers are also elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the peo­ple.

Given the chance, Kim would be ad­vised to in­clude a firm ref­er­ence to the end of the Korean War that has been put on hold by a truce, whether it is an apol­ogy or an ex­pres­sion of re­gret. Af­ter all, he and Moon want to bring an of­fi­cial end to the con­flict. But it would be a great waste of a chance if Kim’s south­ern trip whit­tles down to hik­ing on Mt. Halla.

About Kore­ans’ love of ‘Bo­hemian Rhap­sody’

Kore­ans have saved Queen. They love him. Even more of them will likely, if they have not al­ready, watch the movie “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody” — about its late lead singer Fred­die Mer­cury — than peo­ple of any other coun­try, in­clud­ing Mer­cury’s adopted home, Bri­tain.

It is an open ques­tion why Kore­ans have fallen for the singer whose su­per ta­lent was only sur­passed by the tragedy of his life. I asked some of those who have seen the movie why and found that it was more than nos­tal­gia, be­cause a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion were born well af­ter the band’s hey­day.

Two women col­leagues in their 20s said they wanted to check out the songs and the singer, to whom they lis­tened. They said they liked the sin­ga­long events, at which movie­go­ers were en­cour­aged to sing Queen songs while watch­ing the movie.

A fleet­ing thought: By watch­ing the movie, I thought Kore­ans showed their com­pas­sion for Bri­tons who are about to be thrown into the wild and could be left as pari­ahs through the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Brexit. Or for the singer whose songs some­how boiled down to the pur­suit of love to be un­ful­filled as if he as an im­mi­grant had sought ac­cep­tance without suc­cess.

Orig­i­nally, I felt tempted to class the movie­go­ers with one big stroke, to con­clude that a cul­tural in­fe­ri­or­ity com­plex, 20th Cen­tury Fox’s mar­ket­ing gim­micks and word of mouth, nos­tal­gia and a col­lec­tive case of de­pres­sion in the coun­try were all part of the movie’s suc­cess.

When I was about to write, I re­al­ized that I had not seen the movie so I was un­qual­i­fied to judge it and those who watched it. (More frankly, I de­cided not to watch it out of a petty mind, be­cause so many peo­ple were watch­ing it and I did not want to jump on the band­wagon.)

As part of self-re­flec­tion, I took some of the lyrics from 10 Queen songs. All you have to do is to come up with the ti­tles. For those who are frus­trated not know­ing any of the cor­rect an­swers, let it be known that the 10th an­swer is “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody.” Check the quiz at http://www.ko­re­atimes.co.kr/www/ar t/2018/12/689_259998.html.

Oh Young-jin


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