기네스북에 '가장 많은 사건이 가장 빨리 일어나는 나라'라는 부문이 있다면 우리나라가 세계기록 보유국이 될 것 같습니다. 끊임없이 무슨 일인가가 일어나는데 대개는 나쁜 일이 많습니다. 지난 달 후반부터 신문의 헤드라인을 장식한 사건들, 수치심을 자아내는가 하면 조롱을 자초한 일들도 있습니다.
우선 이멍박 대통령이 자신의 정부가 '도덕적으로 완벽'하다고 해서 웃음거리가 된 일이 있습니다.
이 대통령의 발언이 있고 이틀 후 임태희 대통령 비서실장은 이 대통령의 말은 재벌들로부터 돈을 받은 적이 없다는 뜻이라고 말했습니다. 임 실장의 말은 박원순 서울시장 후보를 겨냥한 말로 받아들여졌습니다. 박 후보가 만든 아름다운 재단이 재벌회사들로부터 기부금을 받은 사실을 비난하려 한 것이지요. 그러나 아름다운 재단처럼 돈의 출입을 투명하게 밝히는 단체도 없습니다. 재단 홈페이지에 입출금 기록이 계속 게재되니까요. 더구나 아름다운 재단은 박 후보의 것이 아닙니다. 공익재단으로서 우리나라 기부문화의 발전을 선도하고 있습니다.
영화 '도가니'는 전국을 수치심과 분노의 도가니에 빠져들게 했습니다. 영화의 내용이 지어낸 얘기가 아니고 광주 청각 장애인 학교 인화학교에서 있었던 장애인 성폭행 실화를, 그것도 수위를 낮추어 만든 작품이기 때문입니다. 장애인 제자를 성폭행한 선생들과 교장들에게 내려진 가벼운 형량과 집행유예, 그들이 여전히 교사 노릇을 할 수 있게 한 재단, 그 재단에 계속 지원금을 지급한 나라... 이 나라가 진실로 '국민을 위한' 나라라면 인화학교 사건에 직접, 간접으로 관련된 모든 사람이 지금쯤 감옥에 있어야 하지만 실제는 그렇지가 않습니다.
영화 관객이 3백만 명을 넘으면서 구멍 뚫린 사회복지사업법의 개정을 소리 높혀 주장하는 정치인들이 많습니다. 특히 한나라당에 그런 사람들이 많은데, 막상 장애인차별철폐연대에서는 법 개정 이전에 한나라당의 사과를 요구합니다. 그것은 2006년 11월에 발의되었던 개정안이 한나라당 때문에 자동 폐기되었기 때문입니다.
당시 현애자 민주노동당 의원은 복지재단 이사진의 3분의 1을 공익이사로 선임하도록 하는 복지사업법 개정안을 발의했습니다. 2007년 1월엔 보건복지부가 공익이사를 4분의 1 선임하는 것을 골자로 한 복지사업법 개정안을 입법예고했습니다. 그러나 복지재단의 절반 이상을 운영하는 보수 개신교계의 대표격인 한국기독교총연합회 등이 개정안 결사반대를 주장했고, 한나라당도 사립학교법의 공익이사제와 같은 맥락에서 사회복지사업법의 공익이사제에 반대했습니다. 결국 여야의 입장이 맞서다가 개정안은 본회의에 상정도 되지 못했으며, 개정안은 2008년 5월 17대 국회가 끝나면서 자동 폐기됐습니다.
이런 일들을 생각하면 이 나라에 희망이 있는가 하는 생각이 들지만, 아직 이 나라엔 희망이 있습니다. 그 증거 중 하나가 박원순 후보입니다. 시민운동가로 알려져 있는 박 후보는 '성희롱'이 범죄임을 법정에서 증명한 우리나라 최초의 변호사입니다. 이 나라에 희망이 있다면 그가 서울시장으로 당선될 것입니다. 서울시장은 서울의 시장 이상의 의미를 갖는 자리이니까요. 그가 서울시장으로 당선되지 못한다면 이 나라는 앞으로도 한동안 비인간적 '도가니' 속에서 헤매이게 될 것입니다.
* * *
If the Guinness Book of World Records had a category recording nations with the fastest turn of events, this Republic will top them all.
When you think you have heard everything, something new pops up usually for the worse. Since late September, a series of scandals made headlines after headlines, causing shame and mockery among the people. It will be both interesting and meaningful to reflect on these happenings and key characters one by one.
First, mockery. President Lee Myung-bak volunteered to become an object of ridicule by making an unwarranted claim that his government was ``morally perfect” on Sept. 30 in a meeting with senior presidential secretaries.
He may have said so to present a moment of laughter for his compatriots suffering from soaring life expenses, but best intentions don’t necessarily bring best results and his words got as many as 20,000 sarcastic replies no sooner than they were floated on the Internet.
On the very day he made the remark, the vernacular daily Hankook Ilbo printed an editorial with a question mark ― ``The President’s relatives, are they under control?” ― lamenting yet another addition to misconducts by Lee’s kinsmen.
On Sunday or two days after Lee boasted of being ``morally perfect,” his chief of staff, Yim Tae-hee came out in defense of his boss, explaining that what Lee meant was he hadn’t received any money from business conglomerates.
Yim’s words were construed as being targeted at Park Won-soon, the civic activist-lawyer, who was then vying to become a unified opposition candidate for Seoul mayoral race. Yim confirmed such allegation by saying that if the donations received by Park’s organization had not been for purely humanitarian purposes, they could pose a serious problem.
It is well-known that the Beautiful Foundation founded by Park has heralded the nation’s campaign for sharing even after he left it to launch the Hope Institute, a private think-tank focusing on policy alternatives. BF is also famous for its clean management of fund: Its website has a section showing how money comes and goes all time.
Affirming all donations have gone into the foundation and its charities, Park pointed out that Yim was violating the election laws by intervening in the mayoral contest whereas he, as a government official, should maintain political neutrality. In a nutshell, Park won the all-opposition ticket and Yim may have inadvertently contributed to the activist’s win.
Second, shame. Since the dramatic film ``Dogani,” or ``Crucible,” was put on 815 screens across the country on Sept. 22, shame gripped the nation amid boiling public resentment. More than 3 million have seen the film so far, including President Lee, Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae, and Rep. Hong Joon-pyo, chairman of the ruling Grand National Party.
The movie shows how female students at a special institution for the hearing impaired fall victims to sexual assaults of their own teachers at their own school and how the heinous crimes are dealt with in the court. The film is based on a 2009 novel of the same title by Gong Ji-young, one of the most popular writers in Korea. Gong wrote the novel by delving into what really happened to students, aged between seven and 22, at Inhwa School in Gwangju over five years from 2000.
In actuality, the offenders were convicted but not all of them were ousted from the school thanks to their ties to its foundation. The court was kind enough to the criminals to withhold the execution of what light sentences given to them. The school could keep on getting government funding owing to the loopholes in the Social Welfare Business Law. If the government worked ``for the people,” most of those involved in the case would be behind bars now.
With the success of the film, the authorities concerned have decided to close down the foundation operating Inhwa and a few other institutions and politicians are noisily promoting the flawed law’s revision. However, many cool-headed observers wonder if the on-going heat would produce something tangible to improve the situation and rights of people with special needs. Sexual crimes against them increased markedly from 199 in 2007 to 320 last year. During the first eight months of this year, 385 such cases were reported.
Underlying this increase are the loose laws and lenient courts, yet there are people who think differently and President Lee seems to be one of them; Hours after seeing the film, he said that to prevent similar incidents overall reform of social consciousness was more needed than legal and systematic supplementation. Perhaps, he has forgotten that change of laws and legal systems is the first step to reform ``social consciousness.”
Skepticism runs deep for the much touted revision of the ``Social Welfare Business Law” for justifiable reasons. In November 2006, a Democratic Labor Party lawmaker initiated a revision to the law, making it mandatory for welfare foundations to fill one-third of their boards with non-related public directors. In January 2007, the Ministry of Health and Welfare advanced a notice for the revision, lowering the ``one-third” to ``one-fourth.”
However, the conservative Protestant groups, that operated more than half of such foundations, feverishly opposed the revision and GNP took their side. Finally in May 2008, the revision bill was scrapped. This is why the nationwide Society for Abolition of Discrimination against the Disabled (SADD) is demanding that the ruling party apologize first and revise the law later.
With all these shameful records, one may see little hope for the nation to become truly civilized in spite of its economic power. However, there certainly is hope and one outstanding sign is Park Won-soon, the first lawyer who brought ``sexual harassment” into the nation’s courtrooms in 1990s and earned a victory for a powerless victim over a powerful offender. With less than three weeks remaining until the by-election on Oct. 26, the ruling party and Yim and other president’s men will struggle desperately to smear Park because, as everyone knows, the upcoming election is not simply about a Seoul mayor.
If Korea has hope, Park will defeat the ruling party candidate. If not, the nation will probably remain in an inhumane ``Dogani” for sometime more.
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