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Turning a deaf ear

Oct 10,2019
The conservative forces once again staged a massive rally at Gwanghwamun Square and Seoul Plaza in central Seoul on Wednesday, a national holiday, to demand controversial Justice Minister Cho Kuk step down, following their earlier rally on Oct. 3. The crowd on Wednesday called for Cho’s resignation in one voice while waving national flags and Stars and Stripes. The protest, which began from noon, continued until late at night. Signs and pickets read “Send Cho to jail!” and even “Moon must step down!”

Demonstrators were outraged by the ruling Democratic Party’s claim that they had been mobilized by opposition parties. The protesters showed the same reaction in their Oct. 3 rally at Gwanghwamun Square. On Wednesday, Kim Jae-sun, a protester from Jeju Island, countered the ruling party’s claim by saying, “I have been living in Jeju. Who would force me to join a rally in Seoul?” Participants were also enraged by a court’s decision to drop a prosecutor’s request for a warrant to detain Cho’s younger brother allegedly involved in corruption at a private school foundation that has been run by Cho’s family.

In Wednesday’s rally, Seoul National University students and graduates also took part. Their organizer handed out 1,000 fake certificates of internships at the human rights law center of the prestigious university in a bid to mock Cho’s daughter’s suspicious receipt of such a certificate, which may have helped her get admitted to Korea University.

President Moon Jae-in on Monday said that he did not regard the rally as a “division of public opinion” because people’s views can differ on political issues. Such an attitude translates into a determination to not listen to different opinions. We are dumbfounded at his sophistry even when a large crowd has been holding a rally in front of the Blue House on a daily basis. Moon must understand what has really brought them to his doorstep.

He must take note of the fact that his approval rating dropped to 32.4 percent in a recent survey, the lowest since he took office in May 2017 and a drop from 39.1 percent in a similar survey in January. Except for people in their 30s, his disapproval rating exceeds approval rating in all age groups.

Moon has brought this crisis on himself. Even when most sensible people are worrying about the sharply split public opinion, he shrugs it off. A national leader shouldn’t do that. If such a large number of people are against him and Cho, he must humbly accept it. Only then can he achieve the national integration he promised in the past.