Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Telling lies just like breathing out

A honest and frank Korean is found.

Updated July.3,2005 23:18 KST
A Country of Liars by Kim Dae-joong

In every country there are crimes that uniquely reflect its society. National Intelligence Service director-designate Kim Seung-kyu, in a lecture he gave late in May when he was justice minister, said: "The three representative crimes of our country are perjury, libel and fraud." In simple comparison, not taking into account population ratio, South Korea saw 16 times as many perjury cases in 2003 than Japan, 39 times as many libel cases and 26 times as many instances of fraud. That is extraordinarily high given Japan's population is three times our own.
The common denominator of the three crimes is lying; in short, we live in a country of liars. The prosecution devotes 70 percent of its work to handling the three crimes, the former justice minister said. And because suspects lie so much, the indictment rate in fraud cases is 19.5 percent, in perjury 29 percent and in libel 43.1 percent. "Internationally, too, there is a perception that South Korea's representative crime is fraud," Kim said, adding that recent major scandals show how rampant lying is in this country.
Lying is so common in our society because few recognize that it leads to crime. "What's wrong with telling a little lie?" they think. And here the big problem is that men of power, rather than ordinary citizens, indulge in lying on a massive scale, to the point where it is regarded as a necessary means of survival in some circles.
In Western European countries, the life of a politician or bureaucrat comes to an end when their lies are revealed. Mistakes they forgive; lies never. The lies of leaders and men of power are subject to punishment tens and hundreds of times heavier than that given ordinary people, and to call someone a liar is the ultimate insult. In Japan, children are taught from infancy that honesty and frankness are the highest personal values.

We, too, need nationwide education to foster a public perception that lying is a crime that degrades human nature and causes a plethora of social evils. We must thoroughly punish slander and deception of others. Our leadership and the entire country have much to learn from the mother in Gwangju who early in June sent her son back to police after false testimony got him off an assault charge, with a request that he be taught some honesty.

takeshima dokdo dokto tokdo tokto
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