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(EDITORIAL from The Korea Times on July 18)

All News 07:16 July 18, 2016

No concert for Chung

It's sad to see Chung Myung-whun, Korea's only classic music conductor worth billing as a maestro, called in for questioning for alleged misconduct ― misusing funds to the tune of 100 million won at the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra where he worked as music director and defaming his colleague, former CEO of the orchestra, Park Hyun-jung.

Even sadder is the norm-defying, unusual behavior he displayed to the media during his hectic two-day schedule ― going to and from prosecution's office and police station.

When presenting himself to the prosecution Thursday, he said, "I had trusted (SPO) employees but now it has turned out that they lied." The bizarre incident started when a group of SPO employees complained about Park bullying them and, in one case, sexually harassing a male subordinate in late 2014. Later, police found out that the accusations were groundless. Police also discovered evidence that raised the possibility that Chung's wife was involved.

In other words, Chung's remarks sounded like an admission that the police's discovery that exonerated Park was true.
But later he went back to his original position, reiterating that Park had violated the human rights of the SPO employees. Also, he raised his hands up in celebration after the prosecution's questioning.

He said, "It is not I but the prosecutors that deserve pity. They work long hours without a rest," expressing his concern about their working conditions. With all smiles on his face, he extended his invitation to concerts next month when he takes the baton at the SPO as a guest conductor at the opening of Lotte Concert Hall.

Some argue that Chung, the source of pride for the nation since it was considered as a barren land for classical music, should be spared from public embarrassment. Their rationale is that, in the classic music industry, a maestro deserves special treatment because "mistreating" him is like "spitting on our own face."

But when he faces serious accusations ― embezzling a hefty sum of money and leading or condoning a defamation conspiracy, it is Chung himself who should take the cases serious and behave gingerly until he is fully cleared. If the accusations are true, he should admit to them, apologize and seek forgiveness from the one whose reputation is violated.

For that, Chung should cancel his appearance at the Lotte concerts and persuade his wife to come in for questioning as well. That is an example of noblesse oblige maestro Chung can set for the nation that his fans can appreciate as much as his music.

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