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Crying for justice (KOR)

Sept 03,2019
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YUN SEOK-MAN
The author is an innovation lab reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.

President Moon Jae-in must understand the anger of the young people on the issue of equality and fairness the best. Many young people agreed to his words on equal opportunity, fair process and just outcome. What the young generation’s candlelight vigils — that began from the 2016 Chung Yu-ra scandal involving massive privileges for her admission to a prestigious university — wanted the most and what the current administration stressed the most was “justice.”

On Aug. 7, President Moon Jae-in gifted his Blue House staff a book titled “People Born in 1990 Are Coming” in an attempt to communicate with the young people. “You can prepare for the future and resolve their concerns when you know the young people,” he said. But his Senior Secretary for Civil Affairs Cho Kuk, a former professor at Seoul National University School of Law, evoked the anger of the young people two days later after he was nominated as justice minister.

Lim Hong-taek, author of the book, claimed that the notable characteristic of the generation is “honesty.” As they were exposed to competition from early on, they value “honest competition” regardless of academic and personal backgrounds or parents’ networks.

The author also mentioned problems with college admissions, which is the central issue involving Cho. On the comprehensive academic record admission criteria, the author said, “It is a modern-day class system beyond a blind admission or lotto admission. As parents get involved, some professors have their children registered as a co-author for their papers.” The author said that many young people want the academic record admission criteria to be scrapped once and for all.

I think it can be seen as a tailored criticism on Cho. If President Moon had really read the book and recommended it to his staff, he would understand why the young people feel angry about Cho.

In a recent JoongAng Ilbo survey, the age group that opposes Cho’s nomination the most were the respondents in their 20s, at 68.6 percent. There were more negative than conservative-minded people in their 60s, at 65 percent. The student council of the Seoul National University, alma mater of Cho, urged him to withdraw for a country with principle and common sense and a society with justice. While some college students voluntarily lit candles out of anger, the ruling party disparaged it politically.

The minister of justice can be translated as a priest of justice. If Cho’s nomination is approved, can we see President Moon’s justice the same as the justice that people in their 20s are talking about? For whom is the equity and fairness the president speaks of? Perhaps, the title of the book should be changed to “People Born in 1990 Are Crying.”

JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 2, Page 28