How to live in a fool’s paradise

2024. 5. 23. 19:57
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It is time to address the issue and kick out those still living in a fool’s paradise.

Kim Hyun-kiThe author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo. The accusation about the Japanese government browbeating Naver into exiting from Line — the popular messaging app the Korean internet giant created for the Japanese — is only half-right. What prompted Tokyo’s interference in LY — a joint venture between Naver and Softbank Group of Japan which operates Line and Yahoo Japan — to reduce the corporation’s dependence on the Korean co-owner was actually last November’s cyberattack on Naver’s cloud system which caused massive leaks of data, including the private information of Line users.

The scheme to jettison Naver from the LY boardroom was not orchestrated by Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications from the beginning. The ministry also issued administrative guidance on LY for stronger protection of personal data in 2021 following a similar data leak. The ministry could feel betrayed by Naver which had promised better privacy protection. But Koreans talk about Japan betraying Naver.

Tokyo may have overreacted by recommending LY to “review its capital relationship” with the Korean tech company. But the affair should be understood from a business perspective, not in an emotional or diplomatic context. To be accurate, it had been Softbank Group CEO Masayoshi Son who betrayed Naver.

The hint is in the comment by Line Yahoo CEO Takeshi Idezawa. He said Softbank’s control over LY is crucial, and that Chairman Son also advised “highest priority” in the affair.

Son’s campaign to gain full control over LY was shrewd and meticulously careful. Son is a Japanese businessman solely chasing money. Koreans cherishing blood think that Son, who is of Korean descent, is on their side. They blame the Japanese government, not Son. But that is confirmation bias: believing what you want to believe. His former chief secretary in a recent interview recalled that the happiest moment for the Japanese billionaire had been when he became naturalized as a Japanese person.

Confirmation bias is also exemplified in the recently published memoir of former president Moon Jae-in. In the book, the former president lengthily described the civility of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. He found the young dictator very polite and compassionate toward South Koreans on Yeonpyeong Island, the front line island that was bombarded by North Korea in 2010. The former president also believed that Kim was genuine in denuclearization as he did not want his daughter “bearing a nuclear bomb on her head.”

Moon also wrote that he was frustrated and angry at the UN sanctions on North Korea as they posed as “stumbling blocks” to improving inter-Korean relations. He lauded his wife’s visit to the Taj Mahal in India in 2018 — which stirred controversy at the time for using the presidential jet for the trip — as the “first stand-alone diplomacy by a first lady.”

The remarks are shocking and appalling enough to raise the question: Which country did the former president really serve? How could he describe a brutal person — who assassinated his uncle and half brother for his ambition and gunned down a South Korean civilian who floated into the North Korean waters — as being “generous and polite?” How could he endure Kim expressing compassion for the residents of Yeonpyeong Island after commanding a bombardment toward the island for which he has never apologized? How can he trust Kim’s will to denuclearize even when he repeatedly brought his daughter to missile launching spots? Did he never stop to think that his obsession with North Korea had been a real stumbling block to inter-Korean ties, not the UN sanctions? Could he not keep his pride about his wife private?

Our society is too generous to shameless people. A trot singer claimed that he went on with a concert after drink-driving and then swapping drivers because he cared for his fans. His die-hard fans still defend his act. A politician who had led an election that delivered a crushing defeat for the governing party is poised to return to the political stage in just a month thanks to “supporters’ wishes.” It is time to address the issue and kick out those still living in a fool’s paradise.

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