David Tizzard recently wrote a piece for the Korea Times, ‘What if Ahn were King.’
In it he reflected on the derision many people show towards Ahn Cheol Soo as a serious political candidate and asks why. Korean media constantly talks about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and Ahn is the only candidate with any experience running a tech company. We are still in the middle of a pandemic, and Ahn is the only candidate with any medical professional experience, so where does the derision come from?
Today, Alex and David go behind the headlines to look at the issues facing the next Korean President.
Alex and David discuss the basic differences between the big two and what it might mean after March 9.
Both acknowledge the difference between the rhetoric needed to garner support, and the compromise needed to govern effectively. Whatever their statements towards wage levels, working hours, real estate supply are during an election, their working policies will most likely be moderated.
David also comments on the kinds of candidates we seem to be getting, not just in Korea, but also worldwide. As David says, “We are seeing that the quality of leadership is sometimes not what it once was. We are getting people to those positions on the back of social media campaigns and images rather than actual depth to their character.”
As David says,“ It feels like at the moment with everything that’s going on around the world, we’re living through history with a capital H. With COVID, the fourth industrial revolution, the situation unfolding in Ukraine, the world is not the same place. At this time more than ever, to be the president of any country must be a hell of a responsibility.”
A successful niche player in the cutthroat world of delivery apps
Alex Jenson, David Tizzard
Alex Jenson 00:08
You’re listening to Koreabizcast with the KBLA. I’m your host, Alex Jensen on this Wednesday, March 2, and yesterday I had the opportunity to moderate a special meeting with South Korean presidential candidate Lee Jae Myung here in Seoul. It was an event hosted by the KGCCI and FKCCI, that is the German and French chambers of commerce and industry here in Korea. And I should point out that it was politically neutral. As it happens, they did also reach out to ease rival camp that of the main opposition’s Yoon Suk yeol . But he didn’t attend. I reflected during and afterwards about the importance of leadership during the world’s present challenges, not least the war in Ukraine, as well as the foreign stakeholders who generally won’t be having a direct say in the presidential election exactly a week from now. And with that in mind, today, we have on the podcast, David Tizzard or to give his full title, Dr. David A Tizzard, who has a PhD in Korean studies and lectures at Seoul Women’s University and Hanyang University is a social cultural commentator, musician who’s lived in Korea for nearly two decades, and is the host of the Korea deconstructed podcast, which can be found online. But David, I got that blurb from the bottom of one of your recent career times columns, which dealt with the question of what would happen if Ahn as in the third candidate Ahn Cheol Soo were king. And I mean, it’s an intriguing question and still is open, because we’re in this delicate moment of the election build up where we can’t speculate on poll results and that sort of thing. But it’s an absolute pleasure to have you here to speak in the broad strokes about what would happen if the, let’s say, top four candidates were to win. Thank you so much.
David Tizzard 01:58
Thank you for having me, Alex. Pleasure to be here, sir.
Alex Jenson 02:02
So let’s actually begin with you because it’s the first time that we’re connecting via this medium, I’ve had the pleasure of your company. Over the years, we’ve both done radio work at the same platform. And we’re both now in the podcast world as well. How are things developed for you? How have you positioned yourself as both an academic and this social cultural commentator? Was that organic? Or was it something that you set out to do?
David Tizzard 02:31
No, very much organic, it’s it’s always nice to look back and come up with these ad hoc explanations for why things are the way they are. Korea is sometimes a very sort of structured society. And you will know this Alex and perhaps many of your listeners, but you fulfill a social role. Sometimes you’re not a name in in South Korean society, sometimes your title or a role. So you’re a Kyosu or you’re an emo boo or your identity gets subsumed into the position that you’re meant to hold in that position, then you have to dress and act a certain way. Of course, that is changing as South Korea modernizes. But I do believe that that element of South Korean society still, you know, plays a notable role. I’ve just kind of ignored that as much as possible. And I’ve just tried to follow what feels right to me. And you know, there are there are many strings to my bow as there are to yours. And I just didn’t want to neglect any, just for social convention. If that makes sense. Perhaps it means I’m a jack of all trades and master of none. But I’ll happily take that title because it makes life a little bit more fulfilling for me.
Alex Jenson 03:45
Yep, it’s kind of interesting, because on the global stage, Korea might seem like a niche, your thing, but when you’re in Korea, there’s that further pressure to have particular areas but your columns alone in the Korea Times have been wide ranging. I remember some time ago, reading about how you took on BTS, for example, which was quite brave anyone who says anything, apart from glowing compliments about BTS risks the wrath of their army as it were, but you’ve also been one to take on very pressing current issues like the growth of the metaverse here and beyond, which is all wonderful. And I hope that we can visit some of those other topics, but but one of your most recent ones did deal with this political question of what would happen if Ahn Cheol Soo working. And without wanting to focus on just one candidate. Let’s, let’s get on to the other candidates. But seeing as you focused on Ahn with your article, let’s start there. It’s an interesting one, because Ahn Cheol Soo has been overlooked by many people as a serious candidate for this election, there was this air of inevitability that he would end up merging with Yoon Suk yeol . Oh, he’s ended up upstanding independently. So what are we to make of him?
David Tizzard 05:03
Well, the start, Alex, you, you sort of mentioned that we are living in, I forget the exact word turbulent times. But it feels like at the moment with everything that’s going on around the world. We’re living through history with a capital H. And there are many things that are contributing to that, whether it’s the COVID 19 pandemic, whether it’s this fourth industrial revolution that gets a lot of airplay in South Korea, or whether it’s the situation unfolding in Ukraine, what we’ve seen in Afghanistan previously, the world is not the same place that it once was. And so the reason why I wanted to focus that piece on Ahn Cheol Soo, is because I feel sometimes that the media just in South Korea, when it comes to politics, they focus on the two main candidates to, you know, an unhealthy degree almost, and from morning to night on the Korean television, they will be featuring these two. And we’ve, you know, no disrespect to any of the candidates, because to be a president of any country must be a hell of a responsibility, but at this time more than ever. Nevertheless, when I looked at Ahn Cheol Soo, when I looked at Ahn Cheol Soo, objectively, he was a man that has a genuine medical background. And during the COVID 19 pandemic, he has gone and he’s done medical work, volunteering for people. And he didn’t seem like photoshops, or opportunities, opportunistic behavior, he has that genuine background. He also has a background in computer programming. And again, that might be sort of 20 odd years ago, but he is a man that that has the exact qualifications that are necessary for Korean society at this time. Moreover, from what it appears, and I can’t speak with any certainty, but his family and his personal life doesn’t seem stained by various issues of corruption or scandal or cup deal, which becomes a very serious issue here. And the more I looked at Ahn Cheol Soo, it occurred to me, why is he not even considered because as I pointed out in the article, if you mentioned antral, Sue to some people, they will, they will just laugh at you or that they will brush it off. And you can’t rationalize an argument for Ahn Cheol Soo, because you’re dealing with emotion here and you’re dealing with people that will brush him off. But that happens with any candidate anywhere. But it was more important, Alex I think this time because the two main candidates from the ruling and the main opposition Conservative Party, they’re very largely disliked. I mean, they’re disliked nurse I’m not sure if that’s a word but let’s go with it. Their dislikeness is greater than their popularity at the moment. And we seem to be entering this phase where Korean politics is now going to be decided perhaps for the first time. Some more senior experts might point me wrong, but it feels for the first time Korean politics has entered a phase where you vote for the lesser evil. And it never wants that previous Presidents had their supporters, their ardent supporters that they believed. But now it feels like we’ve got this choice of the lesser evil, all the while the actual Sue stands on the sideline being laughed at so that that kind of situation was what I was trying to bring out with that article, I think,
Alex Jenson 08:29
Ahn Cheol Soo for several years now has kind of stood for a third way. His party is the People’s Party not to be confused with the People Power Party for main opposition of Yoon Suk yeol and all these parties, especially the main two have gone through various name changes over the years just to confuse matters. So we don’t need to worry too much about that for now. The point is, you’ve got someone as you suggested from a minor opposition camp who is unlikely on their own to beat the top two. But if he can genuinely present a third way, that could be healthy for Korean democracy. It would require a very strong showing in the election though. What is it about Ahn Cheol Soo that people are not taking seriously, this is someone who, if you go back to Mayor Park Wonsoon’s victory, the late Mayor Park Wonsoon when he eventually became mayor in the first place. That was very much upon the endorsement of Ahn Cheol Soo. That’s what how it was viewed at the time anyway. So he had that kind of political sway that kind of cultural power. He then went for the presidency at the next opportunity and ended up merging candidacies with Moon Jae In who lost a pack and hay. And since then, it’s been a sort of steady political downslide for him. And apart from possibly a lack of charisma, which seems like a harsh punishment for a human being, but but is important in politics. I’m not quite sure what the reasons are. Can you pinpoint any others?
David Tizzard 10:01
I think in a very strange way, and I’ve spoken to Korean people about this, I try not to stir just a right from my from my own head. But when I did speak and communicate with Korean people about Ahn Cheol Soo, there’s some very interesting things that go against him. You did mention the charisma and that is something that does go against him. He’s worked very hard on that. We’ve seen him do voice training and image thing. You know, it’s not easy to be in the media spotlight like that, but a couple of other things. One would be his perceived that I think is an experience Alex counts against him. Now Ahn Cheol Soo is more experienced in the National Assembly, then he demyan or Yun sock yo, the two main contenders. Neither of them to my knowledge. I don’t think they’ve they’ve not served in the National Assembly Ahn Cheol Soo has. I think that experience of being around since Park Wonsoon. And then we’ve Moon Jaein and he was very he was involved in the race that saw Oh Sehun become the Seoul Mayor as well. I think that experience counts against him because he’s not new. He’s just there again. Whereas some people might look at that experience and go, Well, he’s he’s got some savviness he’s been around the block, he’s not a new come up. He’s shown that he’s willing, it sounds like I’m championing his cause now, but that’s not the intention here just to try to steal man him. But he’s shown that he’s willing to work with either party, if that’s what he believes is right. So he’s not dogmatic. But I think his experience counts against him, because he’s not a shining, bright new light. He’s not a new toy. For people to play with. That’s another thing I think that needs to be addressed. Even the Justice Party sort of steered away from giving youth a chance. The other thing I’ve heard people say about him, Alex is that he’s too smart. You know that. And I, I kind of get it. But we have so many of the the President’s coming from a, you know, this lawyer background, this legal background. Ahn Cheol Soo doesn’t come from there, he you know, he’s very much educated, he’s got these qualifications behind him. But in many Korean in some Korean people’s eyes, they’re not the qualifications that makes one president. He is too smart. He’s too academic, perhaps too much experience, not shiny. And they’ve, you know, this idea of Alex that when you, you might have a young nephew or a niece, and you’ve known them since they were five or something like that, obviously much earlier, but when they’re 20, when they’re 30, you still remember what they were like when they were so young. Now they’re full grown adults, and you know that they’re crushing it in their own way doing their own thing. But you will always have that image of when they were young. I think people have that with Ahn Cheol Soo. They don’t see what he is now. I think they’ve always got that sort of young, inexperienced, that kind of look where he didn’t when he never got it. And he can’t brush that off. I don’t think for for all his efforts.
Alex Jenson 12:58
Is there also an issue of not quite knowing what he stands for? Perhaps this is an issue with other candidates as well. But yeah, this is someone who merged with Moon Jae In and then was potentially going to merge with Yoon Suk yeol. If things had gone better with negotiations or pre negotiations, you know, how do you stand on the left? And then on the right, for example?
David Tizzard 13:20
It’s I’m dubious sometimes at one of the things that I look up that he is called wishy washy by many people. And I understand that. And he doesn’t seem to be too wishy washy in terms of the big questions like he’s got opinions on North Korea, he’s got opinions on Japan, he’s got opinions on the education system. He’s got opinions on what should be happening with COVID. He’s put them all out there. But again, I just think it’s the case that his his reputation precedes, he’s just not taken seriously. And, let’s say pithy comments from the main ruling party or the main opposition, that they’re taken with, you know, a great deal of grand juror and things like this. But no matter what Ahn Cheol Soo does, I think he will be fighting that losing battle. I’m also not sure I said to you at the start of this conversation that, you know, Korea is, is changing. I don’t think this kind of cold war mentality is perhaps the correct one in the day and age. There’s a lot in the academic literature. And the main news that saying, Korean people are becoming less ideologically inclined, you know, they’re not just going to stick behind one particular ideology and go that way. And for me, I think that sometimes a more rational and reasonable, reasonable approach, you’ve got to play what’s in front of you, and if your mind changes after six months, or if you get new information, you find something’s wrong and you go the other way. That’s, that’s science, and that’s what you do. So I don’t necessarily see anything wrong, you know, you can. We’re seeing what the two main parties are doing. They have these ideological positions that they They champion and they build and that gets them support. But I don’t necessarily think that’s the way forward. And I think those two main parties, they’re pushing each other with this mudslinging. Many people have said this is the biggest sort of mudslinging election in Korean history, you know, the delving into the families and such. Well, I think the more that they push each other, and portray each other in this Manichaean fight for good versus evil, you know, if the other party wins, the country’s gone to hell. They further entrench to party politics, and they give any third way, fourth way less of a chance, which is, you know, which is a little bit disheartening, I think,
Alex Jenson 15:46
Right.I mean, let’s use this as an opportunity to look together at the number one and number two candidates. right. Ahn Cheol Soo technically is number four candidate. That’s correct. One is Lee Jae Myung, and number two is Yoon Suk yeol. They definitely stand for very different things on some particular issues. We have seen them both express overlapping views when it came to China, for example, at the Olympics, and the whole nation was in uproar. But the broader issue if Lee would win might herald a very different relationship with China than say of Yoon were to win, likewise, on North Korea, likewise, potentially even with the United States and Europe. I mean, Lee Jae Myung just had to apologize for some comments he made about the inexperience of Ukraine’s leader who’s been otherwise widely praised. Almost as a saint, a living saint is it really has been almost unanimously praised around the world. So I know he apologized for that. And I don’t want to. And I think the reason for it was limited time in the debate, and perhaps the point was skewed, but the issue of what would happen if x y z were king, Let’s let’s address that in light of Yoon, and Lee right now, because that is a very likely outcome that one of them will be.
David Tizzard 17:06
Absolutely right. And you mentioned sort of those foreign policies. You mentioned China, the United States, North Korea, also Japan, they have divergent views on what would happen in terms of the relationship with Japan. And that’s based on Korea’s post colonial nation building. And so they do represent in terms of foreign policy, international relations, two very divergent paths in terms of ideology, you would always have to remember to see how that plays out, though, Alex, because you take someone like, you know, no mission, or sometimes their actions and their words don’t always kind of line up, if you know what I mean, I know Roh moohyun, and he, he did, he had lots of harsh words for the United States. But in the end, he put his money where his mouth is, and he he helped with military troops and things like that. So they do represent two ideologically divergent positions. And I think they go down those roots even further and further. You know, and it seems a bit like Cold War vocabulary here. And I sometimes tell my undergrads, you know, the Cold War is kind of finished in, in Europe for many people, but here, it might still be going on. We’ve had this talk of communism going on social media. And that’s what some Korean people feel. How it plays out in the day to day management, if either Lee Jae Myung or Yoon Suk yeol become the president, one of them likely will be how it plays out will not I don’t think be as extreme as the language that they use in their press. I think a lot of that is to garner support. I think it’s sort of, you know, to bang a drum and get people to rally behind them, because it’s simple, right? It’s, it’s not talking about complex things, Alex, it’s like, we don’t like China, we’re going to be stronger with Japan. It’s like, okay, and that that appeals to people. But there’s, when you look into it, that’s not a foreign policy, mate. That’s not really something that you can act out in a day to day things. So if the one I would like to just very quickly go from foreign policy to internal and I think the economy is one thing that they will they really diverge on because I think if Lee Jae Myung working and I use the word King sort of a little bit facetiously, but if Lee Jae Myung were king, then you’re gonna get this situation, I think where there’s more top down economic control and policies. So under the president Moon administration, we’ve seen the hourly working week go down to 52. We’ve seen a rising of the minimum wage, it’s more top down it’s less free market. Okay, so it’s more government oriented. I think Lee Jae Myung will at least continue that he might increase it. We’ve heard lots of talk and rumors of universal basic income and such forth. On the other hand, the union SoCal, with the conservative main opposition, talking about, you know, abolish the minimum wage abolish this working hour week, let the let the market decide those to that economic position, I think you’ll see more divergence than the big foreign policy position. I don’t know what your take on that is. But I think that’s where the real difference will lie in the internal government control or absence of control of the economy.
Alex Jenson 20:31
Yeah, I generally agree that it’ll be fascinating to watch. I’m slightly worried as well about who of all the candidates is most trustworthy to be at the helm for domestic policy on the foreign policy front. I think we only have to look at President Moon Jae In to realize that a lot of the fears were unfounded. You mentioned Roh moohyun. But you know, President Moon also has had a very strong relationship with the US. When when people were concerned about that The thing is actually Yoon Suk yeol who people might presume, would have a very strong relationship with the US has said some interesting things in the last few months. He may end up for example, tackling foreigners in this country in a way that people don’t expect in his anti China push. But that could end up having a knock on effect on all foreigners, depending on how the regulations would be proposed. For example, when he was talking about the health care that some relatives of foreigners here are able to receive, basically pointing towards Chinese. But you know, what happens if that’s all of us? The other point might be, well, you know, with North Korea, you have to be exceptionally careful. And even if you are exceptionally careful, they can do a lot of damage politically and diplomatically. So say the wrong thing and suddenly we could be having the kind of provocations we saw in 2010, when actual South Korean lives were lost. Not necessarily likely, but but possible. I mean, do you think that there’s been this comparison between Donald Trump and Yoon Suk yeol? I don’t know if there’s any ground in that. But if there is, it might just be in the unpredictability of this man who’s caught a lot of controversy over the last few months. And who doesn’t have a political background? What’s your view?
David Tizzard 22:18
I, I don’t see Yoon Suk yeol, and Donald Trump. And this is not, you know, to condemn or to praise either of them, but Yoon Suk yeol might be said about him, seems to have a modicum of intelligence. And we’ve ex United president, United States President Donald Trump, for me, didn’t seem to be intellectually or emotionally capable of ruling a nation. I think he was very much and I would also I don’t know if I do this just to be contrary, but sometimes I see a little bit similarities between the American Republicans and the South Korean Democratic Party. You know, it’s, I don’t know why.
Alex Jenson 23:09
Sounds kind of surprising. I thought you were gonna say the, the main opposition People Power Party, because that would sound like a sort of more direct link, even though politically, there are some huge differences. So why does the ruling party, the Democratic on the supposedly left and the Republican in the US,
David Tizzard 23:26
Well just take this idea of human rights. And, you know, that’s a whole nother conversation, but let’s just have it as it is without exploring the idea of human rights and that human rights should be defended, and they should be championed. And you know, they’re a vital importance. There’s another conversation that says they’re a human construct, and they’re used, you know, for political ends. But let’s say human rights are a great thing. The Democratic Party push those at the moment, right. And so the Biden administration, they’re sort of being tough on on this idea. And I think you’ll see Yoon Suk yeol, he will be going that same way, from the conservative point, he will be saying China’s not good enough. It’s not a democracy, you need to be a democracy will say the same thing about North Korea. And I do see a little bit of similarities between them. What I what I want to ask you here, though, Alex, if I may, is, when I was young, I looked at world leaders. And also when I read in, in history, and they seem to be I’m not sure if it was because I was young or because they were made from a different sort of cloth. Whether they they were sort of a breed apart. They were trained intellectually and emotionally to rule and serve a country they came. And I just wonder, are we seeing you know, not everywhere, but in certain parts around the world, that the quality of leadership is sometimes not what it once was we getting more populist figures, we’re getting people getting to those positions on the back of social media campaigns and images rather than actual depth to their character. And intelligence is one of the reasons why I looked at Ahn actually. And I’m not sure if that’s just me getting older, and I’m able to see through things a little bit more, you know, I know Father Christmas is not real anymore, or whether there has been a decrease. Do you have any take on that? Is that what we’re seeing? Or is it just me getting a bit older?
Alex Jenson 25:28
I think we have talked about Father Christmas on another episode. But yeah, as for this question, I mean, you know, policemen seem to have less authority than they used to. all sorts of things like that change as you get older. But yeah, definitely leaders. That I mean, there was a time when, you know, meeting a president, for example, would be like, meeting a mythical figure. And I think today, presidents, when they leave office, they are demonized, if anything goes like completely the the other way around, and very few presidents leave office without some scandal touching their reputation, whether it’s a combination of working in the media, and seeing through some of those personality flaws, or whether they themselves, like you say, are the product of populism. It’s ironic that this leader of Ukraine, President Zelensky, was once a comedian who portrayed a president and then he actually became a president. And yet, this is a figure who’s being upheld as an iconic leader. And by the way, on that note, I’m, I’m wondering, of all the candidates on this list, if, say North Korea were to attack or something very shocking, were to happen. On the security front here in Korea, can we imagine? Who would be best to lead us through that? And and do we want that kind of person to be leading us in peacetime In other words, that the person that’s willing to go on the streets and and rally the troops and be brave is that the person you want to ensure that your real estate prices go the way you want them to be? And that the economy is stable for it, for argument’s sake is the this whole question of leadership, I’ve thought about a lot in recent years that maybe one single figure putting all the cards in one area, even if it’s only a single term is perhaps not really the ideal way forward, and that democracy itself needs to evolve a little bit. And this is a whole other dimension of complexity, but it but it drives at this question of, of why we need to just pick one popular leader.
David Tizzard 27:44
You’re right. And now when it’s a really good question, and, you know, it’s about getting away from that sort of binary Manichaean good versus evil, Cold War things. Now, we’re all connected on smartphones, and we were all in tuned there. There could be sort of more spread of power, you know, allowing people to decide what’s right. But then you have the question, Alex, do do people know what’s right, you know, are we to trust people to make the right decision? Should there be, you know, this more egalitarian power? Or the more we disperse it? Do we get things like Brexit? Do we get things like President Trump that perhaps many people might not feel as comfortable with? Is it better to sort of have fewer referendums, and make decisions because that when you do things like that, you’re often thinking about short term gain? You never think you’re thinking about benefits? You’re doing it on emotion, but it’s never there’s long term rational view. You mentioned North Korea, and, you know, the previous administration with the current president moon, state to law on North Korea, actually, and where we are at the moment in, in the build up to this election, North Korea has been launching rockets. I forget how many years but it’s been about seven or eight, about eight, I think, in 2020. Yeah, in the build up to this election. And that kind of shows that doesn’t work that doesn’t have a good sign for the ruling Democratic Party. I think there’s been a lot of attention. There’s been a lot of focus on that. And it seems that we’re either back where we were when we started, or perhaps a little bit further behind that. So I think the North Korean problem as the leaders have gone into the annals of history, they’ll get their photos there’ll be called Peace presidents and all those smiles and things like that, but I don’t really think there’s been much progress on that front and that will that will play into this election, I think.
Alex Jenson 29:44
There is one name we haven’t mentioned among the top four. And I feel like we should. That is Shim Sangjung and she’s number three, she’s from the Justice Party. And you know, if you mentioned on as someone that you would talk about And people might laugh for whatever reason, well, you know, shim tongue Joy’s often not even in those conversations.
David Tizzard 30:08
Her support rate is, you know, there’s arguments that should she even be in the debate because of the support rate of the Justice Party, just before we address Shim. And because I do want to, I think there’s this point to make some of the things that I’m never quite comfortable with, in terms of English language reporting on Korean politics is that when people from the ruling Democratic Party, there’ll be called progressive, or there’ll be called sort of this human rights president and or candidate, and that’s what they are. But it shouldn’t be understood. Of course, I don’t I’m sure you don’t, but some people might be shouldn’t be understood that they would be equivalent, let’s say, to the Democratic Party in the United States, or, or a leftist party in Western Europe, because their cultural and social views are very, very conservative. It’s only Shim. I’m sure your listeners will know. But it’s only Shim. That sort of does align with anything that we might see in Western Europe as being on the left. In that way, you could see the ruling and main opposition party as both on the right inside incentives, suddenly, culturally and socially.
Alex Jenson 31:15
Yeah, I mean, the further you go down that list of the 14 Canada’s, you start finding all sorts of genuinely progressive views. And even that word progressive, I think, is somewhat misleading. Because yeah, it’s comparative with other countries, but people who might be considered more pro North Korean, for example, people who might be considered to be more pro LGBT rights, for example. But but these are people who are not even in our conversation of the top four. So as for Shim, herself, you know, just again, to pose this question, it’s, she’s in the race, if she were to be king, queen, President, whatever term we’re going to use flippantly. What would that mean, for South Korea,
David Tizzard 32:01
There would be a huge change, obviously, it would be it would come down to National Assembly majorities and minorities and things like that. And but Shim would definitely focus on these social, social and cultural issues. And that’s why she’s an important voice in the debates, I think, because in, you know, for me, for example, and he just the way I’ve grown up, I think, in the United Kingdom, to let’s say, for example, being supportive of gay marriage, that’s not a progress that’s not progressive. For me, that’s just something that I would perhaps take for granted. You know, people have the right to, to live or to love their partner, but in in South Korea, that the idea of gay marriages is not only it’s more than progressive, I think it’s not even in the conversation. And Shim stands for the protection of minorities, anti discrimination laws, the Justice Party have been pushing this since about 2007. For sort of trans representation, she also looks at ethnic minorities, it’s really focusing on the oppressed in society, women as well. We know about gender inequality in South Korea. Shim stands for those things, and she stands proudly for them. And it’s really interesting to consider Alex that she gets 1% support. And so then you have to consider what does that tell us about South Korean society? What does that tell us about, you know, the population and, and their attitudes, you get that idea? Well, we’re not in Kansas anymore, not that neither of us are from Kansas. But, you know, these cultural and social issues of which Shim champions, they’re not part of the conversation. They don’t garner any political support, and it’s good that she’s sticking, but beside them, actually, she’s not changing. She’s not trying to be sort of populist, she’s like, this is what I believe. And this is what we’re going to keep doing. And if we, if we lose, at least during the debates, we’re bringing these subjects up, we giving representation. My one thing that I would say about the Justice Party, which is the the one associated with youth, the one associated with forward thinking and change on social and cultural issues, is that with the greatest respect to Shim because I know she’s a spearhead figure in in progressive politics or in South Korea, why Shim again, like could they they’ve got young people in the party, why not let a young 30 year old woman go for it? Is she going to win no but neither is Shim, and she would gain experience and she would give young people a some young people in South Korea, she would give them a voice she would give them representation. I worry sometimes that the torches never passed Alex, right. You look at politics and old people don’t like handing over power sometimes and I wish the Justice Party had said we’re not going to win us costs really low, perhaps lower than ever? Why don’t we just start making the transition now? Why don’t we give you the chance, and they haven’t done that, and I wish they would have considered it.
Alex Jenson 35:13
David, I’ve really enjoyed this conversation, just such a free flowing. Walk through all of these different possibilities at the main for Canada’s, but I would like to finish with a kind of question on behalf of the foreign community who are engaged in business here, which is part of our listenership of koreabizcast certainly not exclusively foreign, but I want to ask on behalf of them, because they don’t actually have a vote in most cases, they might have a connection to a vote like a spouse, for example, or they might be able to influence people in some other way. But do you think that any of these candidates is going to dramatically change or negatively affect the lives of foreigners here, I briefly mentioned uncle before what he said about health care for, for relatives of foreigners, that’s a very specific issue. There might also be a perception that on the left, you know, that’s not necessarily good news, excessive regulation for foreign businesses, and so on. But then again, you know, just to counter that Lee Jae Myung was the candidate who said, yes, so this event that I mentioned yesterday, speaking in front of two foreign chambers, and, and, and speaking of the investment opportunities in Korea, so whether that actually happens or not, we’ll wait and see the we don’t even know who’s gonna win yet. But, right, the point is, Do you feel any worry on behalf of those people that I just mentioned,
David Tizzard 36:47
One of the pieces that I wrote a while back, Alex was called what is a foreigner? And there are many different types of foreigners, you know, this, and I’m sure your listeners do as well, you’ve already alluded to it with, you know, the, the, the white man is the most represented in media and society with in terms of population, we one of the, the smallest, you know, there are foreigners of various sizes, and colors and shapes. And so I think, first of all, the foreigner in Korea is not monolith. And that’s really important to recognize, I know people that have found their life under the current administration to be very difficult. Where there’s been sort of this focus on more career and there is a there is a genuine conversation to be had that in Korea, the left the ruling administration, for better or worse, are more focused on elements of ethno nationalism focused on elements of the Minjock, and they’re less global, they’re less cosmopolitan. They want to, you know, bring up the glory of Korea, sometimes to the exclusion of other people. And I know people that feel like that in South Korea, in the foreign community that the current administration are not as helpful for them, because there’s a focus on Korean things to the expense of that. And like you say, however, the there are other people that didn’t look at the conservative party and say, what’s going on here? So I, for foreign business, I think it depends on what kind of foreign business you’re doing. I will say this, from my own personal point of view, that I, under the current administration for the last five years in terms of what I do, and I do a lot of observations on various things, I have never felt threatened in terms of free speech, in terms of culpability, in terms of security. And it’s not always been like that, in the past, in South Korea, there’s been a lot more sort of top down authoritarian control of values and speech, black lists, cultural exclusion, and such forth so that I’m sure many foreigners will have the view from my one the last five years, I’ve felt safe doing what I do. But Alex, I’m part of the laptop class, I work from a computer. And so I’m sure there’ll be many other people from different classes and different backgrounds that have different views on that.
Alex Jenson 39:14
Well, many of us foreigners, regardless of the absolute truth that we’re not monolithic, still had to unmask, go and get tested, for example, during the pandemic, if you’re foreign. I mean, you know, that’s, that’s just perhaps an example of what can go wrong. And what could indicate things going much more wrong in in a crisis. And I certainly don’t want to predict a crisis. But we’ve got to think of leadership in in all circumstances, good and bad when we’re voting. It’s so unbelievable, isn’t it that it comes down to that and unmask? That’s democracy. David took his own.
David Tizzard 39:52
Alex, it’s a good thing. Long live democracy. Just one last thing. I promise I’ll be very quick in Northeast Asia, for all of the faults that we’ve seen. about South Korea, the problems and things like that. It’s a beacon of democracy. Look at its neighbors. Look at North Korea. Look at China look a little bit north to Russia. You know, there is Japan and Taiwan. Let’s be cognizant of them. But look at South Korea’s neighbors is democracy is hard fought. And for all its flaws. It’s a beautiful thing. And long may continue.
Alex Jenson 40:22
Well, many people say even its worst critics among the people I know who still supported that it’s just the best of a bad bunch of government options. And if that’s the worst, they can say, then then let’s celebrate it. And hopefully we can come up with something over the next five years that actually makes people feel a bit more optimistic than that. Again, David, thank you so much for speaking with us. We’ll be checking out your Korea Times columns, we’ll be listening to your own Korea Deconstructed, and some lucky students will be hearing your lectures at Seoul Women’s University, and Hanyang University. I also just want to say to everybody, hopefully you’ve enjoyed this and if you have to share it, if you want you can get in touch with us as well through LinkedIn, search KBLA or you can email us anytime firstname.lastname@example.org, otherwise, see you again tomorrow