Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Learn the Right lyrics

Two teachers are being treated to an extended stay in the "anticommunist investigation room" in the basement of the Seoul police station in Jangandong. See the Hankyoreh and KTU for details.

This is an old and tired story, but apparently the Right never bores of it. In 2004, the GNP - with help from the courts - blocked a bill that would have abolished the National Security Law. In 2005, the prosecutor's office charged a sociology professor under the law when the professor publicly attacked the reverend Douglas MacArthur. (He said that the good general was ... unbalanced, among other things. Any American historian would agree.)

When a government minister told prosecutors not to detain the academic, the prosecutors were incensed. How dare the government pretend to know which members of society were a threat to national security! There's a law against thought crimes, see, and we decide who breaks it. The head prosecutor submitted his resignation in protest. His resignation was duly accepted. And lo! there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the pages of that unholy triad, the Chosun, the Dong-A, and the JoongAng.

The professor was eventually convicted. He received a sentence (suspended) of two years in prison for his thought crime.

But what REALLY irks the Right is this "unification" nonsense. Not that many Uri party ministers are much interested in unification. But there is a Unification Ministry, whose bureaucrats are quite attached to the idea. And there is the Ministry of Education, with its Internet Peace School, which promotes understanding of the folks to the north. These initiatives are altogether distasteful to the Right, but there's not much they can do about this, not until the next general election.

But teachers are fair game, and the hunt has been on for some time. In 2006, police in Busan investigated a reunification teacher workshop there, but they found nothing titillating. Then a middle school in Junbuk province held a reunification event where teachers might have expressed too much sympathy for a communist partisan, but again prosecutors were disappointed by the temerity of the material. The unholy triad, however, howled throughout.

When a couple teachers uploaded images of posters to the union website in Seoul, the chorus returned to the stage. Of course, North Korean posters are available to teachers on Ministry of Education sites, and to the public at a Chosun Ilbo site. But the teachers who uploaded their posters had the audacity to identify and define sungun (i.e. military first) politics! This word is unfamiliar to most students and many teachers, of course, as folks here aren't in the habit of discussing policy/propaganda in the North. A definition might be useful to teachers who want to introduce a discussion in their classrooms.

Alas for these teachers, their definition of sungun politics was apparently not condescending enough. It's a question of tone, see? And theirs didn't harmonize well enough with the chorus.

Again, it's the Ministry of Education that is the desired target. The ministry suggests that teachers ask questions such as "What is sungun politics, and why does the North Korean government emphasize this?" and "What are the characteristics of North Korean politics?" Perhaps the detention of these teachers is a Ministry of Justice signal to its enemies in other ministries?

If teachers in the North ask similar questions about propaganda in the South, do the police come for them?

1 comment:

sam59527 said...