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Those who despise democratization and privatization

Updated January. 04, 2014 01:08

한국어

Clause 1 under Article 1 of the Korean Constitution is the declaration that “The Republic of Korea shall be a democratic republic.” Democracy literally means that “People are the owner of sovereignty.” Republic means a “state that is ruled by all people,” and roughly translated, it constitutes repetition of the word “democracy.” Then, what is the word that is most often used in the preamble to the Korean Constitution, which starts with “We, the people of Korea, proud of a resplendent history and traditions dating from time immemorial…”? “Democracy,” “Freedom” and “People” are used three times each.

Likewise, democracy is core value that sustains our community. If one explains the meaning of democracy that way to people in their 40s or older who experienced the nation’s democratization process, they will feel that “It may be accurate but is very dry and dull.” To these people, democratization was a supreme task and call of the era. It was time-honored aspiration, and achievement of overflowing excitement that was made through endless dedication and sacrifices. They are the generation who know through strong, shared experience that people’s freedom and basic human rights, which had been lightly disregarded, were reinstated only through democratization.

The website of a conservative organization put a “Democratization” button to indicate a menu for people to express “objection.” Here, the term “democratization” is used to mean “dislike” or “suppress.” The organization thus expresses their antipathy towards the force that spearheaded democratization, which currently functions as an actual political force. A member of a female music band told a radio interview, “We are a team that respects each other’s personality. We don’t’ democratize,” which caused outcry. She meant to say that the band does not disregard or suppress minority’s view, but she had to apologize later, saying, “I used the word without knowing the exact meaning.”

Recently, the website of a progressive organization is using a “Privatization” button for visitors to indicate “dislike.” This is a practice in which the term “privatization” is being cursed as “devil” due to ramifications of recent rail workers’ strike. However, just looking into Korean Air, SK Telecom, Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, KT, POSCO, and KT&G will allow one to instantly realize how irrational to despise privatization. They were once state-run firms, but have become highly sound and competitive companies through their privatization as watershed. People think and figure out the world through the medium of language. Denying all values that the rival group emphasizes is extreme ideological confrontation.

Editorial Writer Heo Seung-ho (tigera@donga.com)