The Rogues’ Gallery in the Blue House
December 28, 1999
One night, the Korean Television broadcasts somewhat peevishly the parade of ex-presidents, dignitaries, and whatnots of Korean politics that were invited to the presidential palace in the “thank-you-for-keep-quiet-in-1999” party.
I had a feeling of déjà vu that I have been watching ‘the America’s Most Wanted’ in which you could call toll free number to report when you locate criminals and flimflam men.
Here comes a tall, suavely old typical mandarin, KH Choi who had sold his presidency in return for undisclosed amount of cash by then general DH Chun. Mr. Choi was a smooth courtier in the Korean bureaucracy and a spineless weakling to Gen. Chun who took him down a peg.
Since Mr. Choi has been sitting by the peg in his entire life, he has no sense of leash around his neck until his boss tugs it.
Next debutante, lo and behold, a bald flat face with miserable characteristics, Gen. Chun, promenades in with his wife following tight behind him and smiles clumsily while he shook hand with his nemesis-cum-savior, DJ Kim. He appears to be very comfortable and happy because he still can keep his enormous fortune that was stashed away in Swiss bank like Mrs. Ferdinand Marcos and sometimes makes a cameo appearance in the Mafia gathering of former military intelligence cowboys whenever he feels bored and needs some fun game.
The third clown, a boyish and obsequious general who went out to massacre his own people and awarded a presidency for the atrocity, Gen. Roh waltzes in front of camera with broad smile and appreciative manner (Thanks so much for not forgetting me). He looks much better with his polished attire and thumb-sucking wife when you compare him with a prison togs a few years ago. He was quizzical and unbecoming when he was sentenced for life in the clink, and cried mercy: “Do not forsake me, Mr. Kims, Yongsam and DJ, I HAVE PAID YOU zillions of Won.”
The air in the ball room were filled with awkward emptiness and hollowness because the host waits two more attendants, one dead and one alive, Gen. CH Park and Kim, Yongsam.
Kim, Yongsam has been a superb political juggler and Machiavellian whose political life spans over half a century but he has never suffered from torture, imprisonment, or humiliation that are the staple on political arena in South Korea. He was so dazzlingly smart that Gen. Park had paid him a stipend regularly and sought his advice and collaboration during his military dictatorship.
Yongsam has the aloofness and effrontery over the host, DJ Kim, that he, as a son of the rich landlord, could never have the hypergamous relationship with DJ, a curmudgeon from the pariah province. The main reason DJ has to eat crow is that Yongsam holds the knots and bolts of DJ’s faux pas in his coffer as above-mentioned two generals do the same. Yongsam will haunt the host’s bedroom until a host becomes a guest.
Gen. CH Park, who was the cold-blooded torturer, murderer, philanderer and tyrant seems to have more longer and respected political career than any other members of rogues’ gallery, thanks to, first, DJ’s wish for the support of his native province, and second, the lemming-like obsession that South Koreans follow in drove with blinkers on.
It is so much transparent about DJ’s connivance to become the honorary chairman of Park’s memorial hall that it does not warrant any further discussion.
Gen. John A Wickam, the commander of U.S. occupational forces in Korea has ridiculed South Koreans a pack of lemmings in 1980, when he saw Gen. Chun takes over the political power and no Korean speaks out against it.
It is abominable to call Gen. Park a national hero because he brought forth the prosperity and affluence by dispatching Korean mercenary forces to Vietnam and robbing, raping, torturing and massacring innocent women and children.
It is unconscionable to build General’s memorial with taxpayer’s money while so many students, professors, laborers, and civilians have perished under his regime for the democracy.
Frankly speaking, I gaped in disbelief when I have read the recent poll taken in Seoul that South Koreans picked Mr. and Mrs. CH Park as the number-one favorable couple in the 20th century (I mean globally, not just in the Korean peninsular. Mr. Clinton couple became the fourth in the unfavorable category). I think the South Koreans show both their blind chauvinistic mentality and utter ignorance in this poll.
The host of the year-end party, DJ Kim, greeting with his stooped wife (they were the fourth in its favorable couple poll and I have no faintest idea why), wears a rictus smile of a bowing undertaker and shakes every hand eagerly.
DJ thanks profusely all the participants for their cooperation in the year and he would pay back again if they do the same in coming years.
When you were to apply the same criminal laws to apprehend the culprits who appear in the most wanted, I bet my ass that few of the participants in the party would escape from the prosecution under the court of law.
In another recent survey of 1250 middle and upper-class decision-makers in Seoul, 89 percent of respondents think that corruption in DJ era is common phenomenon and getting worse.
An ardent DJ supporter who hails from the Cholla province has challenged me whether I have known any former presidents who is better than DJ Kim in the execution of the national affairs, and I have replied that it would be absurd to try to judge someone by putting him on the same pedestal with thief, con-man, philanderer, torturer, murderer or common criminal, and that I do not have much faith on DJ’s regime regarding his cherished ‘human rights’, when I review the data that his regime has prosecuted over 300 people under the draconian National Security Acts while the previous had 60 something during the entire period.
Someone said history is the final judge, and as far as Koreans are concerned, history is bunk.