Seoul Mayor Blasted for Authoritarian Mindset

      August 02, 2005 18:25

      Saturday's indecent exposure by a punk rock group on live TV has landed Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak in as much trouble as the performers after his call for a blacklist sparked allegations that he is emulating the Park Chung-hee regime. The ruling Uri Party slammed the mayor, seen as a possible presidential candidate for the opposition Grand National Party, as a "disciple of Yushin," after an authoritarian Constitution that cemented Park's grip on power.

      Indie band members and music industry figures hold a press conference in front of Hongik University on Tuesday to make their position known in response to the public outcry following a recent incident in which two members of a punk rock band exposed their private parts on live TV last Saturday.

      Uri Party lawmaker Kim Hyun-mee said Tuesday Lee's order to draw up a blacklist of artists that will be excluded from Seoul City events was a concept befitting a "disciple of Yushin." "I'm not sure if deciding who can and cannot be invited to performances under Seoul City is up to the mayor, but it's really an anachronistic and absurd order," Kim said. "So I say Mayor Lee is an antiquated and dangerous figure."

      "To cry for a blacklist, label 'indie' culture subversive and try to restrict it is something the ghosts of the Yushin era would do," she added. "To go crazy over a single incident is childish and, to put it in one word, Yushin-like." On Monday, the Uri Party said the mayor's statement evoked suspicion the mayor was stuck in the mindset of the Yushin dictatorship.

      Prof. Chin Jung-kwon of Chungang University said on the homepage of his radio show the mayor’s instructions were reminiscent of Germany's Nazi government or the latter days of the Park regime. "Is the standard for differentiating between corrupt and healthy [culture] the personal preference of the mayor? It reminds me of how the Nazis raided cafes in the 1930s claiming to eliminate corrupt culture." He detected signs of a return of the days of Park Chung-hee, "when officials went around with rulers and scissors during the 1970s to crack down on cultural corruption."

      The Yushin Constitution was promulgated after Park barely scraped an election in October 1972, making him virtually president-for-life and concentrating power in his hands. It was scrapped in 1980 following Park's assassination.

      Meanwhile, indie musicians active in the clubs around Hongik University and club managers held a press conference Tuesday to apologize for Saturday's incident but warn it should not be used as a rope to hang all of indie culture with.

      "We cannot find a way to console the citizens, broadcasters and colleagues who have shown love and true passion for the indie music scene around Hongik University for the shock and hurt they suffered because of this incident," they said in a statement. "We will start our own campaign to ensure that similar incidents do not happen again."

      But they said it would be wrong to brand the entire indie music culture in the Hongik area due to one incidental occurrence on TV. "There are about 30 clubs around Hongik University and about 500 active bands, and they have diverse music, genres and styles of expression." They said the show "Music Camp," canceled after the two musicians exposed themselves on the program, "newly attempted to focus attention on the cultural diversity and musical healthiness of indie music... We propose a signature campaign to the culture and art and pop music worlds to have the program restarted."

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