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Polichic

Posted November. 12, 2011 00:35,   

한국어

“Polichic” is a shortened term for “politically chic.” Author Woo Seok-hun, who wrote the bestselling book “The 880,000 Won Generation” said today’s young people dislike anything that is not chic. Explaining the surging popularity of Ahn Cheol-soo, a medical doctor-turned-IT guru, the Venerable Beop-ryun, a revered Buddhist monk, told a meeting of first-term lawmakers of the ruling Grand National Party that today’s young people have no ideological inclinations. Unlike the previous generation that had excessive ideological inclinations, people in their 20s and 30s consider being “chic” the most important before talking about ideologies.

Cho Kuk, a progressive law professor at Seoul National University, might not be a authoritative scholar but is polichic. Kim Ou-joon, the host of a popular and influential podcast talk show, described Cho as “talkative, good-looking, having a good voice, well-educated, keen thinking, substantial and having dignity.” Kim said no other figure in the progressive camp has all of those assets “in one package.” Of course, looking good is not the lone requirement for being polichic. Actress Kim Yeo-jin, who supports the progressives, is neither that beautiful or talented but she is polichic. She shows clear subjective beliefs and sincerity in her participation in social issues.

Kim Ou-joon is the most popular among the polichics. While Cho and Kim Yeo-jin remind people of Jean-Paul Sartre and Susan Sarandon, respectively, Kim Ou-joon is creating a new style. For instance, he talks about the Picasso painting “Guernica” that he says he saw at the Museo del Prado in Madrid. When someone corrected him by saying the painting is at the Reina Sofía National Art Museum, Kim Ou-joon blames the person for being picky about a minor factual error rather than being embarrassed. Kim Ou-joon criticizes Cho for being limited to an intellectual style. Despite a blurry border between truth and falsehood about what Kim Ou-joon says, his unreserved style is hailed by the public.

Ruling party lawmakers Won Hee-ryong and Nam Kyung-pil are not polichic, though they are young and reform-minded politicians. Though vocal critics of party chairman Hong Joon-pyo, the two fail to be even as attractive as Hong. Park Se-il, a conservative professor at Seoul National University, is intelligent but not so attractive to young people. Neither is Byun Hee-jae, a young, conservative political commentator. In the U.S., Rush Limbaugh, a conservative radio talk show host and political commentator, is very popular. For Korean politics to be interesting, conservatives also need polichic people.

Editorial Writer Song Pyeong-in (pisong@donga.com)