The Sewol advertisement that appeared in the New York Times recently was a disgrace to South Korea and its people.
The full-page ad had a black and white picture of the Sewol after it had sunk into the sea, reminding people once again of a tragedy too horrible even to watch.
At the top of the ad, it said the Sewol ferry sank in South Korea at 8:48 a.m. on April 16, 2014. Below it, it said that more than 300 people were trapped inside, but no one was rescued.
In the middle of the ad, there was a message written in a large capitalized font, “Bring the truth to light,” with a subtitle, “Why are Koreans outraged by President Park Geun-hye?”
The ad claimed that the Korean government rejected help offered by the U.S. Navy, and that the government gave the sole rights to the rescue project to a private company of which it is a major shareholder.
Furthermore, it claimed that President Park controlled the press and prevented major news media from reporting the truth, that the mainstream media served as a de facto mouthpiece of the Park administration, that President Park was trying to bring Korea back to its old days of dictatorship, and that Koreans were outraged by the regression of democracy in the country.
Right below these claims, it demanded in a bigger red font “an immediate end to the South Korean government’s control of the media, censorship of the truth, manipulation of public opinion, and suppression of the public’s freedom of speech.”
It is not cheap to place a full-page advertisement in the New York Times. From what I hear, the people behind the ad spent about $50,000 for the one-time ad placement. I wish they used the money for the bereaved families of the Sewol tragedy instead. It is not known who placed the ad.
Along with the website address (www.thetruthof sewolferry.com/truth), the ad only said the ad was “globally crowdfunded by citizens concerned about Korean democracy and free speech in Korea.”
It is regrettable that they had to spend such an enormous amount of money to insult President Park, while the entire nation was buried in grief. I cannot understand at all why they tried to blemish the president and government of Korea by bringing up this horrible tragedy already well-known throughout the world.
It is certain that they are Koreans. What could they gain from spitting on their own faces and so many Korean-Americans’ in the middle of New York? I am embarrassed for them.
I showed this ad to my American friends and asked their opinions. All of them said that a small extremist minority would show that kind of behavior all the time and that the best way to deal with them was to ignore them.
Their conclusion was that no American would believe the claim in the ad that the press was being controlled and democracy was regressing under President Park at a time like this when the two countries are on the best terms and President Park’s popularity was soaring skyward in the U.S. The advertisers only wasted so much money in vain.
We have to find out the true identity of the advertisers. Only then can we find out the source of their money, what kind of organization they are, and whether or not they are leftists, and it will allow us to deal with them accordingly. Some say that the advertiser was MissyUSA.
MissyUSA is a community site that targets Korean women in the U.S., and there is a rumor that organizations opposing the current government are using the site.
I suggest three measures to prevent the recurrence of an unfortunate event like this.
First, it is desirable for the Korean government to send an official complaint to the New York Times. Even though the ad space was sold to the advertisers, I think it was an insult to the Korean government for the newspaper to publish an ad slandering the president of a country. It is worthwhile to make a strong demand of the newspaper to reveal the identities of the advertisers.
Second, the Korean government should sue the advertisers in the New York district court for false advertising. This will force the advertisers to reveal themselves and resolve the suspicion behind their identity.
Third, the Korean government should also sue the advertisers in the Korean court. There should be an opportunity to have the truth revealed, and the advertisers should be tracked down for the crime of defamation of the country and be judged by law.
To anyone, it is rubbish to criticize the Korean government for restricting the freedom of the press and manipulating public opinion. This case should be tied up tightly without any loose ends so that an embarrassing event like this may not happen again.
Looking back, we never follow through with punishing those who were responsible for things like this. And that’s why our society is in disorder.
Our country should become one governed by law, where anyone who commits a crime should certainly pay the price, and thus everyone should be equal before the law.
Jay Kim attended the launch ceremony of the campaign for the Saenuri Party’s mayoral candidate for Icheon, Kim Kyeong-hee on May 22.
Sept. 11, 2001 remains the U.S.’s tragedy with the most casualties. Thirteen years ago, two airplanes were deliberately crashed into the two towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, N.Y., while another airplane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States.
I could hardly believe these events were happening as I watched them on TV. I even thought that it was a movie at first. After I saw the frantic people, covered with white powder, escaping from the building, I realized that it was an actual situation, and anger began to burst out.
I could not understand why these innocent civilians working at the World Trade Center Building, who were mainly professionals that had no ties with the military, had to be the target of the terrorist attack. What did they do wrong?
The 9/11 terrorist attacks killed 3,000 innocent people, and 125 policemen and firefighters died while rescuing the victims. There was no political attack on President Bush blaming him for 9/11, as no one expected the attacks. No one blamed Bush for his failure to predict the attacks.
Bush swore to Americans solemnly in his address at 8 p.m. on that day that the U.S. would certainly find and punish the terrorists, and his approval rating went up to 90 percent. Right after the attacks, the American flag was raised and the song “God Bless America” was played all over the U.S., showing the united patriotism of Americans to the whole world.
The Sewol ferry disaster is, of course, fundamentally different from 9/11. It was neither a terrorist attack nor a natural disaster. It was a preventable, man-made disaster. In its background lie the greed, big and small, and the corruption in Korean society.
Whenever I watch Korean news, I am ashamed of how the society has become so rotted by corruption and also ashamed of this tragedy because it revealed the embarrassing aspects of Korea society.
There are many causes of the incident, once one delves into them. There are the owner of the ship, who bought a 20-year-old ship from Japan and modified its structure illegally to carry more passengers and cargo so that he could make more money even after making so much, as well as government officials that issue him the permission to do so.
And there are the despicable captain and crew of the ship, who escaped first from the ship while telling kids not to move. And the Coast Guard and rescuers were running around not knowing what to do. All we could see was the ugly behavior of adults that cannot be shown to young students without shame.
Furthermore, the children of the ship’s owner, Yoo Byung-eun, do not respond to the subpoena from the prosecution. I wonder how the Prosecution Service of Korea can be taken lightly like this.
It was also ridiculous that the parents of the victims, who spent sleepless nights from the sorrow of losing their children, were put into an auditorium, and only a few blankets were provided for them in a space lit as it was under daylight.
The indifference of the administration was pathetic as it did not show even a small consideration for the victims’ families by setting up divides or small tents. From now on, it will be shameful to say that Korea became an economic power, a country that provides aid, from a country that once received aid. There was not a single response that an economic power would show during the process to deal with the Sewol tragedy.
I think that all of these are the side effects of only caring about economic development so far. This terrible loss of young lives should be the occasion for Koreans to reflect upon themselves. Only then, the loss might have some meaning at least.
We, adults, should reflect on ourselves and take drastic measures to get rid of corruption so that our descendents can inherit a just and righteous country. In this occasion, we should eradicate all corruption and injustice, and should make sure that this kind of preposterous incident can never happen again. All of us should unite and show our unity to the world. The nation should unite, putting off political attacks for later.
It would be hard for the rest of us to know how the remaining families of those who are dead or missing from the Sewol tragedy feel. The rest of us should embrace them, share their aches, and beg forgiveness from the victims, united as one. All of us should move forward, engraving this ache deep into our hearts.
Jay Kim attended a seminar on “Measures for Economic Cooperation between South Korea and North Korea to Prepare for the Era of Reunification” held on May 8 by Korea Institute for International Economic Policy and JHU School of International Studies.
He expressed his agreement with the idea of “jackpot” reunification, claiming that reunification will reduce the defense expenses of the surrounding countries and that the cost of reunification may not be a big problem if that money is used to support reunification for a certain period once the two Koreas are reunified.
Jay Kim announced on May 7 that he and his foundation would work together with Osan and the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs to build a memorial park in Osan in honor of Task Force Smith, the first U.S. force that engaged in a battle against North Korean forces in the Korean War.
At the park, 540 pine trees will be planted in honor of 540 members of Task Force Smith. Kim said that the memorial park would be a symbol of the alliance between Korea and the U.S. by commemorating 540 young Americans who fought for a country they did not even know.
At the news of the plan for a memorial park, House Representative Charles Rangel, a Korean War veteran, thanked Korean people for remembering American veterans of the Korean War and offered his help.