Confusion of values
Nowadays, we are so inundated with commercialism that we seem to become oblivious to reality.
Specifically, I feel that our prudent sense becomes blurred and disoriented by fictitious dramas or fantasies. As a result, we seem to lose our insight, which in turn leads to misjudgment in critical moments.
Recent primetime news programs are full of provocative threats from North Korea. After a failed rocket launch, the intensity of their threats has increased. Driven into a corner by international criticism for cruel inhumanity, not to mention nuclear provocation, North Korea is now threatening ``special action” against South Korea.
Undaunted by world criticism, the North is reported to be preparing for another nuclear test, which would jeopardize the security of neighboring countries. Moreover, they are still threatening to make Seoul a sea of fire.
While listening to the horrific provocative remarks delivered by a grim-faced North Korean announcer, I recalled vivid memories of houses engulfed in flame, a sinking warship in black smoke, and the deaths of many soldiers and innocent civilians.
And I feel uneasy at the thought of another military provocation. My apprehension is reasonable considering the reckless acts of aggression so far perpetrated by North Korea.
Right after the shocking news, came the romantic drama ``The King” in which a South Korean prince and a North Korean woman fall in love. In the soap opera, there seems to be little, if any, hatred between the two countries. Despite the horrific images of primetime news, most aspects of North Korea such as military uniforms, or red banners posted on shabby buildings don’t feel as threatening. Even North Korean soldiers seem to be simple and naive enough to be allured by popular K-pop singers and high-tech devices made in South Korea.
While entertained by the story, I feel I am unconsciously forgetting the severity of North Korean threats. My inner fear seems to be softened by the romantic story. To some degree, those images in the drama seem intimate to my heart. Maybe the reason is that in the drama, the North is no longer the enemy, and many popular South Korean actors and actresses star as North Korean people.
But, what is horrific is the fact that these fictitious dramas could mislead us into forgetting the reality that the impending threats pose to our society, and that North Korea has breached our security enough to have killed soldiers and civilians in recent provocations. Also the two Korea’s have technically remained at war since 1953. What is worse, we are so enraptured by these commercial dramas that we seem to be oblivious to the horrendous situation in North Korea itself.
My concern is that by becoming addicted to these fantasies we may lose the ability to distinguish reality from illusion. In an extreme case, what if immature teenagers are deluded by these commercial dramas, becoming brainwashed into accepting faulty conceptions? What if our young soldiers watching the North-friendly drama during their off-duty hours become overly sympathetic to Pyongyang and neglect the divine duty to protect our country?
My worry intensifies when I see posters of a famous actress in a nice North Korean military uniform in shopping malls. Seeing these commercial posters, how many teenagers realize that they are now threatened by the North Korean regime and that their happiness could be blown away by reckless provocation? In school, students are taught to develop the habit of thinking critically before jumping to conclusions.
Outside of school, they are incessantly misled by commercialism and trapped in a confusion of values. Constantly exposed to these commercial fantasies, they confuse them with reality.
Given this, I feel that severe restrictions should be imposed on such North-friendly aspects of our media, similar to the recent restriction imposed on the Lady Gaga concert which was barred to teenagers.
The writer is an English teacher at Gimhae Girls' High School in South Gyeongsang Province. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.