Criticizing the president has become a social norm of this country. President Moo-hyun Roh is still a source of entertainment for some in politically skewed websites like Ilbe. President Myung-bak Lee and President Geun-hye Park were called a “rat” and a “chicken” respectively. Such misbehavior is immature and no different from kindergarten- level bullying. Often, criticisms directed towards this country’s politicians are based on regional sentiments or incomplete understandings of their policies. For instance, it is true that President Lee’s Four Major Rivers Project harmed the environment and financially burdened the country. However, it was also anticipated to resolve water scarcity, prevent floods, and provide recreational areas along the rivers. Yet, people who do not support President Lee have a tendency to focus myopically on the harms wrought by his policies instead of taking a step back for a balanced overview. Such an inclination, however, only propagates divisions and fractures amongst ourselves, the people. Reacting emotionally and spewing toxic criticism that lack a foundation in reason tend to channel our attention to regional sentiments and ad hominem attacks towards the president. This also blinds us from the faults of other politicians, who join the anti-president bandwagon and divert attention away from their own shortcomings by finger- pointing all of this administration’s problems towards the “common enemy of the people”: President Park and both her official and unofficial advisors.
I am not arguing that we should not criticize presidents as individuals. If the president commits a crime or abuses her power beyond her jurisdiction, she should be punished under the law. Then the president should be treated as a criminal. Though we may be tempted to insult and attack the relatives and friends of the criminal, such actions are just other crimes themselves and give birth to a new hatred from the criminal’s relatives. We should instead ask for the responsibility of such administrations through approval ratings, protests, and elections. The protest calling for President Geun-hye Park’s resignation due to the recent Choi Soon-sil scandal is the correct way to seek responsibility of the president’s wrongdoings. However, President Geun-hye Park should not be insulted for being the daughter of Chung-hee Park unless he, too, was directly involved with the current Choi Soon-sil scandal. The Choi Soon-sil gate infuriates everyone but the reasoning behind the criticism should not be emotional or because other people are saying so.
In the future, Koreans need to look for whether the previous achievements throughout the candidate’s career satisfy the role of the president of a country. As the media reflects on the demand of the audience, we as the consumers are responsible for ignoring any irrelevant information. Instead, we should look for any illegal or immoral activities the candidates were involved in to filter out any disasters such as the Choi Soon-sil Scandal from happening again.