The rise against government corruption in South Korea

"Down with Park Geun-hye!"
“Down with Park Geun-hye!”

…by Jonas E. Alexis


As soon as my friend Bryan and I got out of exit 8 in Gwanghwamun Square, which was where a huge protest was being held, we were greeted by a screaming but non-violent crowd of about a million people who kept chanting, “Down with Park Geun-hye!” The Korea Herald stated that the protest was a “watershed moment”[1] for the South Korean president.

And it probably was.

Bryan is a polyglot. He is fluent in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and English. He is also a freelance travel agent, so he knows his way around. He was the guy who asked me if I wanted to obverse the protest against Park Geun-hye. “We can go around four,” he told me two weeks ago. “Are you interested?” “Absolutely!,” I responded. “Let’s do this.”

We actually went to the protest last Saturday, and it was an interesting phenomenon.

There have been numerous protests in South Korea against Park Geun-hye, but Gwanghwamun Square is a special place because it is located in the heart of the Seoul area. Gwanghwamun Square seems to be an important location because it is also a historical site, going all the way back to the Joseon Dynasty around 1395.

The place has also gone through many upheavals over the centuries. It was destroyed during the Japanese invasion in 1592, got reconstructed in 1867, and got deconstructed again by the Japanese in 1926 for reasons that are beyond the scope of this article.

Bryan and me.
Bryan and me.

To make a long story short, Gwanghwamun Square has always been in a state of flux, either militarily or politically. It is now a beautiful area in which a statue of King Sejong the Great is placed at the center. Sejong was the fourth and most respected king who crafted the Korean alphabet known as Hangeul. Gwanghwamun Square also has a statue of Admiral Yi Sun-Sin, who is said to be Korea’s greatest and most famous naval commander during the late 16th century.

So it was obviously no coincidence that protesters would choose Gwanghwamun Square to raise their voice in unison. After all, Gwanghwamun Square is within walking distance from the White House.

The demonstration last Saturday was really crowded but peaceful and civil. Bryan and I were in Gwanghwamun Square for about an hour and half, witnessed a couple of things here and there, and headed back home. As we were getting back on the subway, Bryan picked up two copies of the Korea Times and the Korea Herald and pass them to me and said, “Perhaps that will help you understand some of the issues.” Bryan also told me that according to the news, more than one million people actually showed up during the protest. Why? Simple.

People seemed to be tired of political corruption in the government. Park Geun-ye, the Korea Times reported, is embroiled in a “deep crisis.”[2] And because of this debacle, Park’s approval rating has dropped by 90%.[3]

It is obvious to South Koreans that Park has been a puppet of her long-time friend Choi Soon-sil, who had no official government title.

It has been reported that Park basically could not do anything without Choi, who has now been jailed for extorting at least “$69 million from big businesses in the form of donations to two foundations she controlled.”[4]

It has also been reported that Choi’s daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, was given preferential treatment in college. Ewha Womans University, which Chung Yoo-ra attended, “gave her favors in grading and attendance and she hadn’t fulfilled the qualifications to graduate.”[5]

During her “academic journey,” Chung registered for eight courses. The shocking news is that she never attended a single class session, never took a single exam but received satisfying grades. “The school also allegedly changed its policy to grant student athletes grades if they submit documents as evidence.”[6]

It has recently been reported that Chung was illegally admitted to the university.[7] All of that was due to Choi’s tremendously powerful influence on the school. There is more:

“According to the ministry’s findings, the university added horseback riding to a list of categories open to student athletes in 2014, right before Chung’s admission in 2015. It then considered the 2014 Asian Games gold medal she obtained after the application deadline in the admission process.

“A chief in charge of admissions ordered interviewers to select ‘a person who brings a gold medal,’ although its policy bans candidates from presenting such items during interviews. Chung was the only candidate who brought a medal. The audit also found that the interviewers had given other students lower scores to help Chung gain admission.”[8]

There are also discrepancies at the high school that Chung Yoo-ra attended.

“Following weeks of inspection at Chungdam High School in southern Seoul, the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) said Wednesday it has found numerous faults in the school’s management of Chung’s attendance, test and grades.

“Chung, a dressage competitor, attended the school from 2012 to 2014. Of about 200 schooldays a year, she came to school 126 days in 2012, 137 days in 2013 and only 17 days in 2014, with the excuse that she participated in competitions or training overseas.

“When student athletes have to miss classes due to such occasions, they are supposed to submit related documents to prove their participation and schools acknowledge their absence. However, Chung failed to do so in many cases and Chungdam just acknowledged her absence, according to the SMOE.

“While a high school dressage competitor is allowed to participate in up to four competitions a year, Chung competed in more without the school’s approval. Despite such poor attendance, teachers gave her high grades, often fabricating her student records.”[9]

It is said that Choi was again behind all of this. She even “attempted to bribe the school principal and teachers three times, and one teacher allegedly accepted it. Choi also used abusive language and threatened teachers who disapproved of Chung’s frequent absences, saying she knew high-profile figures in the education ministry and would get them sacked.”[10]

It is no coincidence that high school seniors were outraged by the fact that Choi did play dice with their high school, which is now the butt of a joke. Hong Seong-min, a senior at Songchon High School, declared:

“I want to ask the grown-ups who ask ‘What do students know?’ what they did. This situation was caused because of the votes that they cast, but it is us youths, who have done no wrong, who must suffer the damages.”

Choi, says the Korea Times, “regularly received classified information and meddled in state affairs, exerting influence on economic, foreign and defense policies adopted by Park.” Keep in mind that Choi has “no official position and security clearance…”[11] There seems to be more to this than meets the eye and ear:

“This scandal involves not only tens of millions of dollars and charges of influence-peddling, but of spiritual guides from a ‘Shamanistic prophet,’ voices from the dead and — wait for it — dressage, the competitive form of horse-dancing.”[12]

Choi “also runs two non-profit foundations that prosecutors say boasted of its ties with the president to collect more than $70 million in donations from the country’s major conglomerates.”[13]

Choi has admitted that she has committed “an unpardonable crime” and has asked for forgiveness. While Choi was in custody, a 45-year old man rammed his large excavator through the gate of the prosecutor’s office and declared,

Since Choi Soon-sil said she committed a sin that deserves death. I came here to help her die.”

The protesters last Saturday have every right to be upset, and by protesting in the streets of Seoul and elsewhere they are basically saying that corruption is morally wrong and that any entity that gets involved in political deception must be willing to step down and face charges. Moon Jae-in, a political leader, laments:

“Park lost her authority to manage state affairs. People have no trust in her anymore, not to mention she has lost face on the global stage. She is damaging the national pride once again by trying to hold onto power.

“We cannot let the bewildered President sink the country. She should hand over full authority to a rival parties-backed prime minister and guarantee a new bipartisan Cabinet to manage state affairs until the next administration takes over.”[14]

The protest has certainly strengthened what we have been trying to say for the past two years or so: Politicians and government officials cannot exclude morality from their own personal lives.

Bryan took this picture during the demonstration.
Bryan took this picture during the demonstration.

Morality, or practical reason, is inextricably tied with things like virtue, temperance, patience, and charity. And virtually every single country on the planet has some kind of law or “public morals” which enhance those virtues.

For example, the Constitution of the Republic of Korea puts a heavy emphasis on “public morals,” and this heavy emphasis has several fundamental assumptions, which shall be briefly discussed later. I must mention in passing that it was a great relief when my dear friend and colleague John Jung got me a real copy of the Korean Constitution.

John and me.
John and me.

If I had to give Jung a different name, it would be “the information guy.” Sometimes I would spend days trying to get some information on a particular issue in Korea, but Jung would get that information in a matter of hours. So when I told him that I needed an authentic and full copy of the Korean Constitution, he got me one in less than two days. “How in the world did you get this so fast, given that some of these things are quite rare?,” I asked. As usual, he responded: “Who am I?” Jung was generous enough to look for at least two important articles for me on the Park Geun-hye debacle.

In any event, the Korean Constitution has some pretty interesting statements. In Article 6, it states in part:

“Treaties duly concluded and promulgated under the Constitution and the generally recognized rules of international law shall have the same effect as the domestic laws of the Republic of Korea. (2) The status of aliens shall be guaranteed as prescribed by international law and treaties.”

Article 7 states: “All public officials shall be servants of the entire people and shall be responsible to the people.” Article 10 states: “All citizens shall be assured of human worth and dignity and have the right to pursue happiness. It shall be the duty of the State to confirm and guarantee the fundamental and inviolable human rights of individuals.” Article 12, part 2: “No citizen shall be tortured or be compelled to testify against himself in criminal cases.”

Article 21 sums it all:

“Neither speech nor the press shall violate the honor or rights of other persons nor undermine public morals or social ethics. Should speech or the press violate the honor or rights of other persons, claims may be made for the damage resulting therefrom.”

All these principles are inexorably congruent with the moral and political order. And obviously there are no such things as “public morals” if morality is just a relic of the past. In short, without morality, both the state and individuals will end up living in contradiction and will inevitably create confusion, which may lead to political chaos.

If this sounds weird, then start examining both the neo-Darwinian ideology and the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Listen again to philosopher of science Michael Ruse of Florida State University: “Morality is flimflam.” In the very next paragraph, Ruse risibly writes:

“Does this mean that you can just go out and rape and pillage, behave like an ancient Roman grabbing Sabine women? Not at all. I said that there are no grounds for being good. It doesn’t follow that you should be bad.”[15]

Ruse is a prolific writer and philosopher of science and has written at least 26 books with major academic presses such as Cambridge, Harvard, and Oxford. He was trained as a mathematician and philosopher and is very well versed in the evolution controversy. But Ruse has to live in contradiction because the Darwinian system is logically incoherent, intellectually repugnant, and metaphysically worthless.

If morality is “flimflam,” what logical inference that allows Ruse to posit the claim that one shouldn’t be bad? Isn’t that an implicit moral statement in itself? Can there really be good or bad behavior if morality is actually “flimflam”?

If we say that this or that behavior is good, then we are presupposing that there is such a thing as bad behavior. If a behavior can be good or bad, then we are implicitly summoning a moral law by which to differentiate good and bad behaviors. And whenever we see a moral law, we implicitly assume a moral lawgiver because moral laws cannot come out of thin air and cannot exist without human beings.

Finally, if morality does not exist, then why are atheists and agnostics continuing to summon the problem of evil to make a point? Charles Darwin wrote back in 1860, one year after his Origin of Species was published:

“I had no intention to write atheistically. But I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world.

“I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice.”[16]

But Darwin postulated that there is no such thing as morality! One needn’t be an intellectual to realize that this is generally dumb. Some flaming Darwinists such as James Rachels have figured that out as well. Rachels wrote in Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism that the “implication of Darwinism is morally pernicious.”[17]

It is always interesting to obverse how people like Ruse can deliberately ignore those basic deductions. Morality, Ruse adds,

“is something forged in the struggle for existence and reproduction, something fashioned by natural selection. It is as much a natural human adaptation as our ears or noses or teeth or penises or vaginas. It works and it has no meaning over and above this…

“Morality is just a matter of emotions, like liking ice cream and sex and hating toothache and marking student papers. But it is, and has to be, a funny kind of emotion. It has to pretend that it is not that at all!”[18]

What we are seeing here is that Ruse, like other dishonest Darwinists, is choosing ideology over truth. This kind of sleight of hand is found throughout Ruse’s analysis. He again proposes that morality “has to appear to be objective, even though really it is subjective.”[19] Morality, he concludes, is “an illusion put in place by your genes to make you a social cooperator…”[20]

Ruse should have realized that he was undermining his own mine when he set out to deconstruct morality in his project. As E. Michael Jones pointed out a few years,

“Those who set out to debunk the moral and spiritual order were in the end debunked by their own desires. Since they choose desire over truth, the explication of their desires debunked their entire intellectual system.”[21]

Ruse has just released a book by Oxford University Press entitled, Darwinism as Religion. Ruse agrees with what we have been saying about Darwin for the past two years or so when he stated that, according to Darwin, “the civilized peoples are going to triumph over those less so…”[22]

In other words, survival of the fittest. As we have argued in the past, Darwin himself excluded morality from his ideological system, and that really puts his intellectual children who are now fighting Zionism in a very difficult position because if morality does not exist, then there is no way to condemn Zionism at all.

In fact, it can logically be argued that Zionism and Darwinism are concentric circles when it comes to dismissing morality in the political and intellectual firmament. Both ideologies have thrived over the years by liquidating the weak and the defenseless, and both systems have a dark history.[23] Had it not been for capitalism and rapacious usury, Darwinism would have been abandoned long ago. As it turns out, Darwin was indirectly intellectualizing or articulating the lustful desires of people like Thomas Hobbes, who also excluded morality from the economic realm.[24]

To conclude, politicians and academics are proving that Hegel was right all along. Whether wicked men like it or not, says Hegel, reason will work itself out and will triumph in the end. No force is strong enough to impede the work of reason in history and human affairs.

If politicians want to succeed, then they need to humbly start submitting their will to reason or Logos. And failing to do so will hasten their doom. The protest my friend Bryan and I witnessed last Saturday is a classic example. The rise against the oligarchic rule during the recent presidential election in the United States is also another example.[25]

[1] Jo He-rim, “Saturday’s protest to be watershed moment for Park,” Korea Herald, November 12, 2016.

[2] Kim Hyo-jin, “President trapped in deep crisis,” Korea Times, November 12, 2016.

[3] “Park’s approval unchanged at 5%: Gallup,” Korea Herald, November 12, 2016.

[4] Choe Sang-hun, “Choi Soon-sil, at Center of Political Scandal in South Korea, Is Jailed,” NY Times, October 31, 2016.

[5] Kim Rahn, “Choi Soon-sil’s daughter given dubious favors by high school: authorities,” Korea Times, November 16, 2016.

[6] Ock Hyun-ju, “Probes continue into Choi’s daughter,” Korea Herald, November 7, 2016.

[7] “Chung illegally admitted to Ewha: ministry,” Korea Herald, November 18, 2016.

[8] “Chung illegally admitted to Ewha: ministry,” Korea Herald, November 18, 2016.

[9] “Chung illegally admitted to Ewha: ministry,” Korea Herald, November 18, 2016

[10] Ibid.

[11] Kim Hyo-jin, “President trapped in deep crisis,” Korea Times, November 12, 2016.

[12] Elise Hu, “Swirling Scandal Involving Shamanistic Cult Threatens S. Korean President,” National Public Radio, Octoer 29, 2016.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Kim Hyo-jin, “President trapped in deep crisis,” Korea Times, November 12, 2016.

[15] Michael Ruse, “God is dead. Long live morality,” Guardian, March 15, 2010.

[16] Charles Darwin, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, vol. II (Middlesex: Echo Library, 2007), 432.

[17] James Rachels, Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 4.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Michael Ruse, “God is dead. Long live morality,” Guardian, March 15, 2010.

[20] Ibid.

[21] E. Michael Jones, Degenerate Moderns: Modernity as Rationalized Sexual Misbehavior (South Bend: Fidelity Press, 2012), 236.

[22] Michael Ruse, Darwinism as Religion: What Literature Tells Us about Evolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 131.

[23] See for example Richard A. Soloway, Demography and Degeneration: Eugenics and the Decline of Birthrate in Twentieth-Century Britain (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990); Robert C. Bannister, Social Darwinism: Science and Myth in Anglo-American Social Thought (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1979); Peter Watson, The Modern Mind: An Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century (New York: Harper Perennial, 2002); Paul A. Lombardo, ed., A Century of Eugenics in America (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011); Nancy Ordover, American Eugenics: Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003). On Zionism, see Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford: One world, 2007); The Forgotten Palestinians: A History of the Palestinians in Israel (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011); Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); Ari Shavit, “Survival of the Fittest? an Interview with Benny Morris,” Counterpunch, January 16, 2004; Norman Finkelstein, Method and Madness: The Hidden Story of Israel’s Assault on Gaza (New York: OR Books, 2014).

[24] For a historical study on these issues, see E. Michael Jones, Barren Metal: A History of Capitalism as the Conflict Between Labor and Usury (South Bend: Fidelity Press, 2014).

[25] For a recent analysis, see E. Michael Jones, “Twilight for the Oligarchs, Part II,” Culture Wars, November 2016.


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