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Be Aware Of Politics
Cho Sae-hae  |  newyear90@hanyang.ac.kr
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[1112호] 승인 2011.12.09  
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 “The only domestic program dedicated to Gaka, I Am a Ggomsu will broadcast until February 2013 for Gaka will not be able to use a smartphone in a prision.” These daring words were aired on the Podcast program I Am a Ggomsu which aims to denounce Korea’s right wing party, the Grand National Party, and President Lee Myung-bak. The word Gaka is a comical expression for “Mr. President” aimed at cynically ridiculing President Lee publicly on the program.

Kim Eo-jun, an MC on I Am a Ggomsu,’ released his book Shut Up and Politics on October 5 which instantly became a bestseller. This book prompts the public to get interested in the current political situation. Shut Up and Politics organizes the scattered discussions progressed in I Am a Ggomsu and includes the author’s sharp insights about the political picture.

In His Own Words
The detail contents of the book are even more interesting. To begin with, the author develops the unconventional concepts about the political right and left in his own words. Based on basic political concepts, the author concentrates on revealing the BBK incident, President Lee’s biggest alleged corruption, and the author describes the irrational structure of the Korean conglomerate, Samsung as well. Then he moves on to discuss the left parties. He defines the boundary of the left, implying why they were not be able to win popularity so far, and suggests the unification of those parties altogether.

Kim’s ultimate goal in his book is to propose a way for left parties to be more reformed and popular. In addition, he tries to attract the public to get more interested and therefore understand better about the current political situation because that is how eligible voters in the future can vote for actually qualified candidates.

Several reasons exist surrounding how Shut Up and Politics became a big hit among readers. First of all, the success of the broadcast program I Am a Ggomsu cannot be ruled out. The program I Am a Ggomsu successfully communicates with mass audiences, generating keen interest about politics. People who get interested in politics by listening to I Am a Ggomsu want to see what Kim Eo-jun says in his own book and eventually decide to read it. “I decided to read the book Shut Up and Politics after I listened to I Am a Ggomsu because I found it very interesting and wanted to learn more,” said Um Jae-ha, a Freshman in the Department of Tourism.

The prevailing distrust and discontent over the current government are contributing to the success of the book as well. As terms like the economic depression, social polarization, and the absence of communication become cliches when it comes to describing the current government and the president, the current administration has already lost credibility with the public. In this situation, the broadcast program I Am a Ggomsu and the book Shut Up and Politics present merciless and incisive assessment about the Lee Myung-back Administration and the Grand National Party which the public finds amusing and interesting. For example, Kim sarcastically evaluates the president by writing “Lee Myung-bak is the incarnation of the desire for money.”

Kim’s unusual character is another factor that attracts people to read the book. The reason that he was able to form such a unique character is that he had grown up without strict regulations and rules from his parents. “My parents were fairly permissive parents, and I thanked them for that, because I have been trained to be an empiricist who tells right and wrong based on his own experiences,” said Kim in an interview with Vogue magazine. Afterward, he became an eloquent commentator with direct and strong words which appeal to the energetic youth. He already had published a book I Wish You Good Luck where he gives advice to the youth and encouraged them to have better lives. His former activities as such already grasped people’s attention and lead them to get interested in his latest book.

Shut Up’s Vulnerabilities
However, the book has a few vulnerable points that can be easily attacked by its opponents. As the book shows a fairly biased stance about political parties (the author mentions himself in his book that he has more affection and hope for the progressive left parties), and as the book contains the author’s very subjective perspectives, designating the book as a course book for politics can be confusing and a bit problematic. Moreover, there are concerns that as Kim and his book gains popularity and influence, this book also can contribute to shaping a distinctive power that can instigate the media and mislead the public, which is what the current government is criticized for. 

The acrimonious tone of the book can be a two-sided coin as well. Some readers might find it amusing and enjoy the texts, but others might find raw criticism and insults of the book highly disagreeable, and these factors can provide an excuse to gain criticism from its opponents. “When the author wrote that Korean women are ashamed of the humble appearance of Lee Myung-bak, it made me uncomfortable regardless of whether that actually is right or wrong. Insulting a person’s character is the one thing that I cannot agree with,” said Kim Joo-young, a Sophomore in the Department of Philosophy.

Despite some weakness to be pointed out, the fact that the book Shut Up and Politics poses a huge influence on society cannot be denied. This social phenomenon implies that current politics involves problems that make people build distrust and discontent towards political circles. In Japan, a candidate who was independent of any party, Hashimoto Doru, was elected as mayor of Osaka on November 27, gaining an overwhelming victory over the majority parties in Japan. Over the decades of economic depression and political corruption, Japanese became disillusioned with the existing political circles and therefore chose the new rising star. The Korean political situation is not different from Japan at all. If the Korean political circles do not try to reform their structure, they will ruin themselves in the near future.

The book Shut Up and Politics is strict and harsh but it suggests how the political parties can overcome the current circumstances. Although Shut Up and Politics shows favor towards the progressive left parties, it says that it is possible to support the right parties if they work like the real rights. The book aims to let the people recognize the current political picture and based on that, it eventually aims to make reforms. Keep an eye on them to see whether the book and the author Kim Eo-jun really realize their will in the future.              

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