Friday, November 4, 2016

Park Geun-hye the Pitiful

President Park apologized a second time today for the still unraveling Choi Soon-sil scandal. It was a slightly more contrite apology than the first one she gave. In an emotional speech, she expressed remorse and, at times her voice becoming shaky, she accepted responsibility for the scandal, while also opening herself to the possibility of being investigated by prosecutors. If she does get investigated by prosecutors, she would become the first sitting president to do so.

But the truly saddest part of the apology was when she denied that she had participated in shamanistic rituals in the Blue House. Televsions show script writers could not have come up with something as bitterly tragicomic.

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There are many things about this second apology that people can pick apart. For those who never liked President Park from the beginning, there is nothing that she could ever do that would ever get them to change their minds. Even though she accepted the possibility of being investigated by prosecutors “if necessary,” there are people suggesting that the fact that she didn’t say anything about her unilateral decision to appoint a new prime minister means that she has no plans to loosen her grip on power.

Such is the result of hyper-partisanism.

Her apology offered nothing new. But what caught my attention was when she said that she lived a “lonely life” in the Blue House and that was why she sought friendship and guidance from Choi Soon-sil.

It seemed a cry for sympathy. Those few words brought back memories of her assassinated parents as well as her estrangement from her siblings. In effect, it was a reminder that she is an Orphan of the Nation.

To be clear, I do not think that portion of the speech was meant for those who never liked her from the start. As mentioned earlier, she cannot say or do anything to make them change their minds. No, that was meant for those who had supported her but have since turned their backs on her. The most recent polls reveal that her approval ratings has dropped to 5%, making her the least popular sitting president in the history of the country. She is bleeding political capital, or what little she had left of it, and she is likely doing whatever she can to stop it.

It’s possible that the tactic might work. After all, only cynics have their hearts absolutely closed to pity. However, there is a type of person who is more cynical than that and that is the type of person who would use another person’s pity for him or her as a weapon. Deliberately or not, by invoking pity, President Park is asking the people to have the heart to overlook reality.

But what is the reality of the situation? That is what people are trying to find out. What was President Park doing the whole time while Choi Soon-sil was running a shadow government? Was she aware of what was going on? Did she allow it despite knowing what was going on? If so, she is an accomplice. Or was she unaware of what was going on and truly thought that Choi was sincerely only looking out for her interests? If so, then she is incompetent.

Either way, justice must be served. But if justice is denied because people are overcome by a great swell of pity, then the guilty would be shown mercy. And if the guilty do not pay, the innocent have to pay it. This would be a moral and intellectual abdication because compassion is proper only toward those who are innocent victims, not toward those who are morally guilty. Everyone must be judged with the same respect for truth and must be judged for what they have done and treated accordingly.

Virtuous deeds must be praised and malfeasance must be condemned. Failure to do so can only mean that the virtuous must necessarily be betrayed and the wicked encouraged.

Had President Park any sense of dignity, she would have apologized, accepted responsibility, agreed to being investigated by a special prosecutor, and agreed to resign if necessary. There are important tasks that must be undertaken - with or without her. Had she taken that route, she would have at least been able to salvage a semblance of self-respect. Instead, she chose to appear the pitiful victim - an irredeemable person with no shred of respect.

It truly was painful to watch.

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