There was a Washington Forum banquet with Thomas Hubbard, the former U.S. Ambassador to Korea.
While the instability of the global economy has been worsening, both the U.S. and Korea are expected to have about 5.5 percent and 3.5 percent economic growth next year, respectively. This is really great news.
However, Japan, a country right next to ours, is expecting its economy to shrink by 1.5 percent, and it also seems unlikely that China will be able to achieve as much economic growth as it has in the past. Furthermore, as the plunging price of oil has battered the economies of not only the OPEC nations, but most other oil-producing countries, some expect that Russia, a powerful country north of ours, might default on its debts if things get any worse. The economy of Korea, a small country stuck between these powerful neighbors, seems fine in comparison with these countries.
That is not all to consider. The tragedy of people killing each another in social and religious conflicts is occurring throughout the world. Many investors choose the U.S., as it provides the best stability and this has made the U.S. even stronger as a tremendous amount of investment capital is moving into a country that already has rich underground natural resources like shale gas. But the U.S. has its own share of problems. Instead of ideological or religious conflicts, it has been troubled with racism. Recently in Manhattan, New York City, there was an incident where two policemen were shot to death by a black man. As tensions have mounted between the police and black people through incidents like this and others, the mayor of New York and civic organizations appealed to enraged protestors to show a united nation to the rest of the world. Avoiding a raging storm of anger, the city then began to regain stability.
Korea has been afflicted with ideological conflict, rather than racial discrimination or religious conflict. One candidate in the last presidential election said at a debate watched by millions that her sole reason for running was to prevent then-candidate Park Geun-hye from being elected, and assured the people that she would not let Park win no matter what.
That remark must have astounded the people who expected to hear political vision ― what she would do for the country ― from a presidential candidate. The fact that her party, the Unified Progressive Party, which rejected the national anthem and flag, received 30 billion won of government assistance left wounds with many people. After all, one of the party’s National Assembly members was revealed to be the leader of an insurrection conspiracy to destroy important infrastructure within the country in case of a national emergency. It is really dumbfounding that expenses for this movement were paid for by taxes from the people.
While people were anxious about how the nation became so radicalized, suddenly two women showed up and toured nationwide praising Kim Jong-un and singing North Korean songs during their so-called concert.
Watching them, people must have thought that things went as far as they could in this country. I felt real pity for Shin, who is a classical singer, as a fellow Korean-American myself. Even if she enjoyed North Korea so much, it would have been just fine if she had returned quietly to the U.S. with that feeling, but she has been making a fuss in South Korea while associating with pro-North groups for no good reason.
Furthermore, it is really sad that she enraged North Korean defectors with her groundless, distorted exaggeration that 85 percent of those who escaped from the North risking their lives wanted to return to the North. Does she even know that the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly voted for referring Kim Jong-un to the International Criminal Court for his brutal oppression of human rights in North Korea? In the end, she has been banned from leaving Korea and is being investigated by the prosecution. It is really pitiful how she put herself into this situation.
The Constitutional Court of Korea ordered the dissolution of the Unified Progressive Party by an overwhelming vote (8-1) a few weeks ago. A majority of the people genuinely welcomed this verdict. They were delighted that Korea could show a united nation to the world. The loathsome ideological battle was thought to be over with this decision. Unfortunately, the members of the party protested the decision of the court and declared that they would organize nationwide protests, exclaiming slogans like “the democracy has been pronounced dead” and accusing the government of trying to dissipate its political trouble by “provoking a red scare in Korea”.
The U.S. was also once swept by anti-communist fervor in the 1950s. U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy claimed that over 200 communists were in the State Department, waving a list of them in his hand, and that they were destroying the foundation of democracy in the U.S.
As the whole nation was swept by this hysteria, many people were investigated under false accusations, and lost their jobs. Most Americans had grown tired of McCarthyism by the end of 1953, and it disappeared in the U.S. as people were concerned that the hysteria might turn into an uncontrollable situation. After this, Americans have been united even more through patriotism, and the country has expelled anyone who rejects the country under the principle of “only those who love the U.S. can live in the U.S.”
I hope that we can live at ease this year in a tightly united nation of only the people who love South Korea by sending to North Korea those who claim that North Korea is a better place to live.