South Korea has been the object of praise and envy of the world for its great success in anti-virus war, off-line presidential election despite the virus crisis and the best performance in GDP growth among the OECD countries. In fact, the year on year GDP growth in the second quart of 2020 was -3.2% for Korea as against – 9.8% for the whole of OECD and even -24.2% for the UK.
Unfortunately, South Korea may have to go back to day-one of the anti-virus war started in January. This time, the propagation wave of the virus is, most likely deliberately, planned by the far-right coalition of the conservatives.
On August 15, at the Gwang-hwa-moon Square near the Seoul city hall, there was a huge rally of 20,000 people who were against the progressive government of Moon Jae-in. Most of the participants did not wear masks; they ignored social distancing. Many of them had been already infected but they came; they shouted; they sang; they did spit at the personnel of the public health bureau. The obvious objective was to spread the virus as much as possible.
The rally was forbidden by the Korean Centers for Disease Control (KCDC), but the court allowed knowing very well the danger. It is suspected that the judge who allowed the rally was a member of the conservative force which tries to discredit the progressive government of Moon Jae-in
What is happening is, perhaps, a major battle between the conservative oligarchy and the progressive people of Korea. The outcome of this battle will surely affect not only the peace process in the Korean peninsula but also the regional security.
The rally was organized by the conservative oligarchy led by a self-ordained pastor called Jun Kwang-hoon. Since the rally, the cumulated cases of infection have increased from 12,410 on August 15 to 15,502 on August 26, a daily increase of 281. On August 14, only 85 new cases were reported.
This paper has three parts.
First, the paper analyses the dynamics of the inter-force fight, especially, the formation and the evolution of these forces.
Second, the paper looks into how the inter-force can affect the corona-virus war. The conservative oligarchy is doing its best to spread the virus in order to topple the progressive government of Moon Jae-in. As for the progressive force, it is trying hard to win the anti-virus war without lockdown and the use of police power.
Third, the paper argues that the fierce inter-force fight in Korea will have significant implications not only for the peace on the Korean peninsula but also for the regional security and even world peace.
1. The Dynamics of the Inter-Force Fight
1.1. The conservative Oligarchy
The conservative oligarchy is composed of conservative party, the Unified Future Party (UFP), far-right protestant church, new-right intellectuals, conservative media, the conservative judiciary system, and the Chaebols (large industrial and financial conglomerates).
All these groups have one thing in common; they are all pro-Japan, anti-North Korea and anti-progressive government. This oligarchy is a powerful vested-interest group with enormous wealth and privileges cumulated since seventy years through illegal and immoral activities.
The oligarchy forms a tightly interconnected corrupted community, the function of which is to protect and expand their vested interests at the expense of the welfare of the people.
The Conservative Political Party: The present conservative party, the UFP, is the linear descendant of the long line of dictatorship: the police dictatorship of Rhee Syngman (1948-1960) (right), the military dictatorship of Park Chung-hee (1962-1979) and Chun Doo-hwan (1980-1987). The government of Lee Myung-bak (2008-2012) and that of Park Geun-hye (2013-2017) were constitutionally democratic governments, but, in reality, the presidents acted as de facto dictator through the complete control of the legislative, the judiciary and the executive and, of course, the media.
The Protestant Church: The unfortunate part of Korea’s history is the North-South division of the country and pathetic reaction of the protestant church. The protestant church came to Pyongyang in North Korea during the 19th century and flourished until 1945, when the country was divided and North Korea was occupied by communist Russia which treated religion as poison. There was one protestant pastor, Rev. Han Kyun-jik, who found himself obliged to close his church and flee with his followers to the South, where he created a church called Young-rak Church, now, one of the largest protestant churches in Korea.
Han sent some of his English speaking members to the American military government and the government of Rhee Syngman. Han and Rhee had one thing in common, the hatred for communism and North Korea. Rhee needed someone who could get rid of those who were not with his dictatorship. Rhee then decided to label those who were not with him as communists. Rev. Han formed a terrorist gang with his young and tough church members called “Seo-buk Youth Gang-the North-West Youth Gang” , which took part in most of the killing fields ordered by Rhee.
The youth gang of Rev. Han were brainwashed to believe that the communists were red-faced devils who challenged the angel of God, the Church. There are these passages in the Book of Revelation, the last Book of the Bible (12:3 and 7).
“There was a huge ‘red’ dragon with seven heads…Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon who fought back with his angels; but the dragon was defeated.”
Here, the red is communism which must be condemned just like the red dragon was condemned. Hence, it is the duty of Christians to kill communism. No doubt, the brainwashed terrorist youth believed this and President, Rhee Syngman was more than happy to use this group to liquidate those who were against his dictatorship.
The protestant church goers who participated at the 8.15 rally believe that North Korea is the biblical red dragon and that Moon Jae-in is the defender of the red dragon.
The Intellectuals: Most of the Korean conservative intellectuals are those who have studied abroad with money coming from pro-Japan parents who had acquired huge wealth by receiving the Japanese colonial assets distributed by the American military government and Rhee’s government.
At present, many of them receive huge funds from Japan for studies designed to justify and glorify the Japanese invasion in Korea. One of the channels of transmission of Japanese money to Korea is the Center for Academic Studies which is installed in one of the leading universities in Seoul. This study center would have received US $ 30 million from Japan.
The conservative intellectuals have organized a group called “New Right” with the mission to rewrite, in Japan’s favour, the Japanese colonial history. In fact, a book was completed in which Japan was described as a benevolent power which came to Korea for the good of Koreans. Fortunately, as soon as Moon Jae-in took over the power in 2017, the book was abolished.
The Media: The role of the media in Korea has little to do professional journalism; they do not investigate; they write and say what the money provider asks; they are a profit seeking business. To be more precise, they are there to make money by fabricating stories, making lies to protect the vested interests of the conservative oligarchy in exchange of fat bribe money.
The media is the most corrupted entity led by the ardent pro-Japan media giants comprising the Chosun Ilbo, the Dong-ah Ilbo, which were created and flourished during the Japanese occupation owing to their collaboration with the Japanese colonial government in justifying the Japanese occupation and helping the fight against Korean patriots. In addition, there is the Joong-ang Ilbo created by the Samsung Group. In Korea, these journals are labelled as Cho-Joong-Dong which are the most pro-Japan and which are the most effective guardian of the conservative oligarchy’s vested interests.
Most of the journals, TV stations with the exception of KBS, MBC and other government funded TV stations are funded by the Chaebols led by Samsung, construction firms and other members of the oligarchy.
The Judiciary System: The corrupted oligarchy has survived all these years owing to the protection of the corrupted judiciary system. The wrong doings of the oligarchy are ignored, while a slight anti-oligarchy activity is punished. The media report what the prosecutor’s office dictates; they seldom investigate the story; they write or they say what the Prosecutor dictates; they are simply the Prosecutor’s parrot.
The Chaebols: In the dynamics of the conservative oligarchy, the role of the Chaebols is of paramount importance. Over the years, the Chaebols have played the central role in the oligarchy; the Chaebols have provided unlimited amount of bribe money for the key member of the oligarchy in exchange of political and judicial favours. The head of the Chaebols seldom go to prison for their crimes; even if they are imprisoned, they are quickly pardoned by the president of the country.
1.2. The Progressive Political Force
The progressive political force has been formed through enormous sacrifice of Korean people. Right from the beginning of the post-war era, Korean people were alienated and treated by the conservatives as enemy and, as a result, they were victims of massive murders, illegal incarceration and torture; they were excluded from decent jobs. Nobody knows how many Koreans were murdered by the conservative oligarchy, but no doubt, several hundred thousand souls were sacrificed.
In particular, those patriots who fought against Japan were identified and completely blocked from making decent living. One of the poorest groups in Korea up to now is the group of the patriots’ descendants. They have been denied the right to have descent job; they were made so poor that their children could not have descent education; they were constantly harassed by the police; they had to deny their family identity.
The government of Moon Jae-in has been doing a lot in honouring and helping the patriots and their descendants. But, nothing can compensate for their suffering imposed by the conservative oligarchy.
Despite the fearful police and military dictatorship, Korean people have fought back with bare hand against the conservative oligarchy through the following massive popular uprisings; the 4.19 Revolution (April 19, 1960), the 10.16 Bu-Ma Democratic Protests (October 16, 1979), the 5.18 Kwang-ju Uprising (May 18, 1980), the 6.10 Struggle (June 10, 1987) and the Candlelight Revolution (October 26, 2016-April 29, 2017). Perhaps 30 million people went down the street to fight against the corrupted conservative oligarchy.
The progressive force was able to form a government twice in the past and the third is that of Moon Jae-in. The first progressive government of Kim Dae-jung (1997-2003) made a series of social reform but could not resist successfully the wrong doings of the powerful conservative oligarchy. The second progressive government of Rho Moo-hyun (2003-2008) was successful in making the government less bureaucratic. Moreover, it created a mechanism through which the ordinary people could come to the Blue House (Korean White House) meet the president and talk to him. He wanted to return the country to the people, the country which had been stolen by the pro-Japan conservatives for their own interests.
President Rho Moo-hyun was the target of a bribery scandal fabricated by the government of Lee Myung-bak, the Prosecutor and the media. He killed himself to free his family from suffering. President Rho has left the most powerful political and ideological legacy, the legacy of just society where the government exists only for the people and where every person is important and deserves respect, dignity and love.
2. Impact of the Inter-force fight on the COVID-19
The power and the glory of the conservative oligarchy is now threatened after the impeachment of Park Geun-hye in 2017; Park was taken out of her office for her corruption and her abuse of power. She is now in prison for 15 years.
On the other hand, the reputation of President Moon Jae-in is rising in Korea for his love of people, a government devoid of corruption, the promotion of more equitable income distribution, the development of small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which had been exploited with no pity by the Chaebols, the victory over the corona-virus without lockdown, the peaceful off-line general election in the midst of the virus crisis. Furthermore, he is highly respected throughout the world for his leadership in the North-South peace dialogue and the productive mediation role for the Pyongyang-Washington peace dialogue.
The brilliant success of the Moon jae-in government threatens the very survival of the conservative party and the conservative oligarchy. As expected, the UFP has been doing, for last three years, everything possible thing to discredit the Democratic party of Korea (DPK) and President, Moon.
Here is what the conservative party, UFP, has been doing to discredit the government of Moon Jae-in:
- The FUP has blocked since three years through the Judiciary Committee of the National Assembly most of laws related to the welfare of the people and the North-South peace Dialogue in order to tell the people that the progressive party (DPK) and the Moon’s government are incompetent to govern and look after the people.
- The second political tactic of the conservatives consists in discrediting and dishonouring important leaders of the progressive force. The popular tricks often used consist in accusing the leaders for fabricated sexual abuse or involvement if bribery scandal. The Prosecutor intervenes to make the impression that the scandal deserves investigation. By the time the truth is revealed, it is too late to recover the damaged reputation and the integrity of the falsely accused. In this process, the role of the media is crucial; they publish or broadcast what the Prosecutor says; they never verify if the accusation is justified.
The most known case is that of Professor Cho Guk who is the most respected expert in judicial matters and served as one of the advisor to President Moon. A year ago, he was appointed as Justice Minister with the mission of reforming Korea’s judiciary system, in particular the reform of the Prosecutor which had been abusing its unlimited power, criminally protecting the interests of the conservative oligarchy and even challenging the authority of the president.
- The conservative oligarchy funds a great number of individual you-tube facilities and manufactures fake news and events in order to give the impression that the policy of Moon’s government is failure. For instance, they say that Korea’s economic behaviour is the worst among the OECD countries; the truth is the other way around; for the second quarter of 2020, Korea’s GDP fell by 3.2% as against a decrease of more than 20% in many other OECD countries. Among other things, the conservative oligarchy fabricates false news about North Korea’s threat in order to give the impression that Moon’s government is incapable of assuring the national security. For instance, they fabricate a story that a North Korean military unit invaded a certain place in South Korea.
All these efforts and plots to discredit the government of Moon Jae-in have failed. Then, there appeared unexpected ally for the conservatives, namely, the corona virus. The plan of the conservative oligarchy was to spread the virus intentionally to prove the present government’s failure in handling the virus. The conservatives even mobilized the cult Shincheonji in March to spread the virus. But, the cult Shincheonji was soon under control and the virus crisis was almost terminated.
The conservative oligarchy lost the general election in April allowing the DPK to win almost two-third of seats in the National Assembly. What was left for the oligarchy was the huge rally at the Kwang-hwa-moon Square on August 15 mobilizing twenty thousand people from all over the country. The objective of the rally was to use the virus as terror weapon to kill the progressive force.
The August 15 rally was the well planned virus war declared by the conservative oligarchy against the progressive force led by Moon Jae-in. The principal leader was Jun Kwang-hoon who represents a radical ultra-right faction of the Protestant Church in Korea. He is one of those who seem to believe that the communism is the biblical red dragon and his church is the angel Michael. Jun argues that Moon Jae-in is trying to convert South Korea into a communist country and, therefore, his government should be destroyed.
The oligarchy has adopted the following tactics in relation to the 8.15 rally.
- It mobilized the brain-washed elderly from all over the country. The strategy was planned for long time. They came by chartered buses; they were amply paid by the oligarchy. They were instructed to do the following
- Thy should believe that the virus would not infect the selected Christians
- If they die because of the virus, they are martyrs.
- They should not go to the government-run KCDC for test, because the government is the enemy of Christians.
- They should close all mobile phones so that the KCDC cannot track the rally participants.
- They should not tell even the family about their rally participation
- Even if they are inflicted they should travel freely
- Many of the participants had already been infected before coming to the rally so that the virus can be transmitted to as many people as possible.
- Some of the participants spat at the KCDC team members so that the virus can be transmitted from the local offices of he KCDC.
- The organizers, especially, the Sarang-jeil church led by Jun Kwang-hoon, refuse ot provide the list of the participants. Even worse, the list made available was intentionally fabricated including the names of persons who do not exist.
One thing is clear. The ultimate objective of the 8.15 rally and many other events and manoeuvres organized by the conservative oligarchy is the destruction of the progressive regime and retake the power at the next presidential election in 2022.
The interesting question is why the conservatives are so desperately determined to destroy the progressives. The answer is simple and strait; it is the matter of preserving their vested interests which include wealth, privileges, prestige, envy, protection from judicial punishment for their crimes, sharing of government positions and many other advantages given to them. These vested interests are so precious that they are ready to do anything to topple the progressive government which is threatening heir interests.
The damaging impact of the inter-force conflict on the corona-virus crisis is very serious. Since the 8.15 rally, as we saw above, every day, hundreds of infections are reported and there is a great danger of community propagation.
President Moon has spent all his life for the promotion of human right; he hates to use force to fight the virus. But, he announced, on August 25th, his intension of using police forces to solve the virus war declared by the conservative oligarchy.
3. Impact of Inter-Force Fight on the Regional Security
No doubt, the fight between the conservatives and the progressives has become an open war and there is no guarantee that the progressives will win the war. There are three reasons. First, this time a good part of brainwashed radical Protestant Church members are leading the virus war. There are several millions of Protestant Christians in Korea. Second, the Chaebols are at the center of the oligarchy with unlimited funds. Third, the medical doctors have declared work stoppage and their motivation is suspected to have a link with the virus war; they are suspected to support the conservative oligarchy.
The government has to win the new virus war at all cost. President, Moon Jae-in may have to declare even the emergency of level 3 which means a total lockdown never used so far.
In this conjuncture, the interesting question is about the impact of the possible outcome of the 2022 election on the peace in the Korean peninsula and the regional security.
If the conservative oligarchy wins, we may have to face the following consequences.
- North-South peace dialogue will become difficult leading to renewed danger of armed conflict on the Korean peninsula.
- The tension Pyongyang-Washington will increase and the presence of American military force including the additional deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) will be enforced.
- Seoul-Beijing relations will become more tense and the whole regional security will become uncertain.
- In Japan, the possibility of the far-right political force represented by Abe Shinzo to go through the amendment of the pace constitution will increase. And, Japan will try to colonize again South Korea through political and economic and financial influences, if not military invasion, in close complicity with Korean conservative oligarchy. If this happens, the whole regional security will be adversely affected, given the Japan’s ambition to restore its former power and glory.
On the other hand, if the progressive force wins the 2022 election after having successfully dealt with the second virus crisis, the following results are expected.
- The North-South peace dialogue will continue and even the inter-Korea economic cooperation will become possible, which will lead to the common prosperity to the North and the South.
- The peace on the Korean peninsula and North-South economic integration may allow Korea to play key role in the formation of the East-Asian regional globalism.
- The peace on the Korean peninsula may weaken the justification of the large presence of American military strength in the region. This will attenuate the danger of Sino-U.S. armed conflict.
- The peace on the Korean peninsula will weaken the justification of the amendment of the peace constitution and decrease the danger of armed conflict Sino-Japan and Korea-Japan.
To sum up, what is happening in Korea can happen in many other democratic countries. That is, the virus can be deliberately propagated in order to protect the vested interests of corrupt politicians. If there is any way to prevent it, it is the strong will of the united citizens supported by the people around the world.
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Professor Joseph H. Chung is professor of economics and co-director of the Observatoire de l’Asie de l’Est (OAE) of the Centre d’Études sur l’Intégration et la Mondialisation (CEIM), Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). He is Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).
Featured image is from Xinhua