If you go to a post office in the U.S., you can often find a “Wanted” flyer that contains the pictures and biographical information of the FBI’s 10 most wanted fugitives.
Rewards are usually offered for information leading to their capture. Since the FBI cannot always catch these fugitives alone, it asks people to help with its search effort, putting a bounty on those on the list.
The flyer states that the FBI wants people to check their neighborhoods and contact the FBI if they happen to recognize someone from the list.
The Korean government has made an unprecedented full effort, even mobilizing military forces, to capture Yoo Byung-eun, the key mastermind behind the Sewol disaster.
Even in the U.S., I have rarely seen a case where military forces were used in a manhunt to capture one individual. It is almost as if martial law was proclaimed to arrest Yoo, and yet his whereabouts is still unknown.
The situation has become too urgent to waste any more time. Yoo’s case is not a simple case of embezzlement. The magnitude is much bigger, because it is connected to the tragedy of losing young lives at sea, in which the whole nation felt sadness and empathy for the victims and their families.
As time goes by without Yoo being captured, people’s trust in the prosecution and the police is cracking. Furthermore, a strange rumor is going around, saying that the authorities are intentionally failing to catch Yoo because many politicians are connected with Yoo and his “Guwonpa” church behind the scenes.
In addition, members of Yoo’s church claim the Sewol sank not because the ferry carried cargo over the legal weight, but because it collided with another ship or an object. Because the case is getting embroiled in strange rumors, it should be resolved as soon as possible.
First, the bounty for Yoo should be raised to 2 billion won. In the U.S., there are often cases where $1 million was offered as a reward. Also, the authorities should select countries that Yoo might have sneaked into illegally and let the police in those countries know about the 2 billion won bounty, so that they may get the reward by capturing Yoo.
This reward should be paid not with people’s tax money, but with Yoo’s illegal assets that have already been seized. In other words, Yoo pays for the bounty with his money.
To flee abroad, Yoo needs at least 5 billion won cash. But it is not easy to carry this amount in cash. Even if Yoo flees abroad, any person who helps him sneak into a country can hand him over as soon as they arrive, and claim 2 billion won from the Korean government. So the amount is too big to trust someone for the smuggling process.
Second, the cohesion among members of Yoo’s church should be disrupted. To end their trust in Yoo, the members should be told plainly about the kind of person Yoo is and that their payments to the church only increased the assets of Yoo’s family.
This plain speaking is needed so the members can make their own judgment on right and wrong. Yoo’s church publicly announced that it was offering 500 million won to get to the truth of the Sewol disaster, which can only be seen as greatly damaging people’s respect for the Prosecution Service. The Prosecution Service needs a public relations effort based on truth to persuade these Guwonpa members, which means that it should face the problem and take the bull by the horns by telling them about the fraudulent activities of the man whom church members firmly believe to be the savior.
Third, the Korean government should file a complaint after a remark from the lawyer of Yoo’s daughter who said Korea used torture and severely oppressed religion. There is no torture in Korea, and it is ridiculous to think Korea oppresses religion. It should be made clear that we should not be confused with the North. The government should uphold our country’s dignity.
Finally, every illegal building in Geumsuwon should be demolished. The primary reason is that the buildings are unstable, posing a big risk of a major accident. Another reason is to remove Guwonpa’s hiding places completely.
The Sewol disaster showed us how corrupt our government has been through too-cozy ties between the government and businesses, the practices of hiring former high-ranked government officials, and the corruption from the bureaucratic “mafia.”
The disaster also made us realize how serious our government’s disregard for safety has been. It is said the government checked more than 4,000 dangerous facilities after the Sewol disaster, but accidents still continue to occur here and there. I hear that this is because of the long continuation of the lax regulatory practices of the bureaucratic mafia. Therefore, to prevent another tragedy like the Sewol disaster, we should arrest Yoo as soon as possible and get rid of every wrongdoing and corrupt act committed by the likes of bureaucratic mafia and their business counterparts.
I think there is a point in the Guwonpa members’ claim that the government should put its heart and soul into preventing another tragedy like the Sewol disaster.
As I was in Korea to witness the local election on June 4, I watched the process with a great deal of interest. I found several issues that I could not understand, as someone with experience in local politics in the U.S., and I would like to offer some recommendations:
1. A local election should not be a referendum for the president
The leaderships of political parties were campaigning in groups in the local elections. Candidates did not offer their thoughts about what they would do for the region, as much as they slandered their opponents and their parties. In other words, the election was a fight between two political parties, a stark contrast to the local elections in the U.S.
‘Before I became a House Representative, I was a member of the city council and the mayor of Diamond Bar, an affluent city in Los Angeles County, Calif. In local elections in the U.S., the current local issues at the time are the biggest issues in the elections. Thus the candidates are concerned about their campaign promises on the current local issues. If the party leadership shows up to give an endorsement speech for its candidate, the candidate may lose the election rather than winning. The reason is that such an endorsement is regarded as an appeal to the strength of the party leadership, which shows the lack of strength and merit in the candidate.
There is a saying, “Politics is all local.” It means that democracy begins at a local politics. In other words, politics does not descend from the top central party.
2. Let’s get rid of ‘gu’ and ‘gun’ assemblies
Korea has a direct election system for the lowest level of administrative unit. However, it is desirable to get rid of the election for “gu” and “gun” assemblies, making this election the last one for them. For example, in the case of a gu assembly, it is desirable that a gu administrator should be recommended by the mayor of a city and decided by the city council. Since there is a city councilman that represents a gu, it is a waste of tax payers’ money to have a separate gu assembly.
Frankly, it is my understanding that gu assemblies do not have much to do and they only stall on making decisions and make regulations that only make the lives of ordinary people more difficult. I have seen several cases where a big gu administration mega-buildings was built while the local economy was put into a huge deficit. I know that it is a frequent occurrence for members of gu assembly to waste tax money on family trips abroad ― supposedly in the name of overseas exploration, but mainly to do some sightseeing. I hear that the cost of maintaining a gu assembly and paying the public employees needed to do so takes up a significant portion of the budget of a gu. Hence, we should do away with the gu assembly system.
The same goes for gun assemblies. It is enough to have “do” assemblies whose members represent gun. The gun assembly is a waste of tax money. Even a big country like the U.S. does well without gu and gun assemblies.
3. People with a criminal record should not be allowed to run for a public office regardless of the reason
Another surprising thing is a recent newspaper report that almost half of the candidates in the local elections had criminal records. How can a person with a criminal record be a representative of citizens? In the U.S., a person with a criminal record loses the privilege to run for any kind of public office. We should change the election laws as soon as possible so that ex-convicts may not be able to run for any public offices, from the National Assembly to a city council.
There were 2,248 candidates in this local election, and the number of candidates with a criminal record continues to increase. According to a report, out of 61 candidates in the local election in Suncheon, South Jeolla Province, 31 of them have criminal records. Twelve of them (20 percent) have two or more cases in their criminal records. In terms of the type of crime, 10 are for drunk driving, five for violence, and two for the violation of construction law. How can people like these speak for citizens and become their leaders?
4. Let’s get rid of proportional representation in the local elections
No matter how much I think about it, it is weird that there are proportional representatives even in the local elections. A total of 970 people applied to be a proportional representative, 228 for large-regional assemblies and 742 for basic municipal assemblies. It is not appropriate to have proportional representation in the local elections. Let’s get rid of proportional representation once and for all. It is enough to have those who represent their districts; having proportional representatives in a city council is a waste of taxpayer money.
Proportional representation in the local government is one of the causes of the enormous power of the central political party, a problem rooted deeply in our political system. Making this local election the last one, we should leave the local elections totally to the residents of the regions, and get rid of candidate nomination by central parties. The childish system of party nomination ― where political parties nominate their candidates even for gu administrator and gun assembly and those who do not get nominated often change parties ― should be forever abolished. Those that believe that political parties should continue to select candidates through the party nomination system argue that it’s because the people are still ignorant. This argument is an insult to the people. This local election should be the last of the outdated system where those in power and their cohorts share offices or seats among themselves by means of party nomination.
Jay Kim attended the second “Korea-China Growth Enterprise Seminar” held by Financial News on June 3. In the seminar, he said that the two Koreas “will definitely be reunified” and that “now is the crucial time to establish good relations with China”.