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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on July 23)

All News 07:07 July 23, 2021

Watch your words, Yoon

Former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl who leads in polls as a presidential candidate from the opposition front has caused a string of controversies. His top rating took a hit over scandals related to his wife and mother-in-law. His recent remarks also damaged his image and credibility.

In a recent interview, he quoted a start-up entrepreneur who said it was better to work 120 hours a week and rest later to develop a game. He meant to criticize the universal enforcement of a 52-hour workweek under President Moon Jae-in, but the talk of 120 hours was excessive.

While visiting Gwangju on July 17, he noted how the southern city had stayed the same over the last 18 years as if to suggest the city had been neglected in public policies and spending for development. In Daegu, he criticized the past ruling party spokesperson's remark about locking out the city during the first wave of Covid-19 originating from the third largest city in Korea last year. Yoon attempted to sympathize with Daegu people who would have been angered by the "crazy remarks" from the spokesman. "If it had been other regions, an uprising could have taken place," he said. The coarse and exaggerated tone cannot be appropriate for someone who was the head of prosecution under the Moon government.

Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure said, "Speech has both an individual and a social side, and we cannot conceive of one without the other." Speech represents the thoughts and the character from which it is expressed. It is why the wise all speak of discretion in speech.

Language must be refined to address sensitive and complicated matters to draw greater sympathy. It is particularly demanded from a person who is closely watched as a strong candidate for presidency. Politics have long been a hotbed for vulgar language. The mainstream politicians therefore are distrusted by many people. A political novice should be different by using language of dignity to raise the dignity of Korean politics.

He should reflect on the advice from former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep) in the 2011 movie "The Iron Lady." "Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny."

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