What They Said is a regular series on the quotes Korea is talking about.
A couple of weeks ago, on September 18, the 21-year-old South Korean rapper Chang Yong-jun (sometimes spelled Jang Yong-jun), better known by his stage name NO:EL, was arrested for refusing to take a breathalyzer test, driving without a license, and assaulting a police officer.
The issue became a hot topic, as Chang Yong-jun has previously been involved in other similar incidents. In 2020, he was charged with drunk driving and switching seats with a passenger and was sentenced to a year and a half in prison with a probationary suspension of two years. In April 2021, he assaulted a member of the public on the street, though the case ended with the prosecution not pursuing indictment. The rapper has been a controversial figure for many years for various reasons, including social media posts showing him smoking and drinking while underage, remarks he has made about the critics of his songs (saying that most of them are daekkaemun, a slang term for Moon Jae-in’s strong supporters, and that they are vermin), and his belittling of people on low incomes.
Public opinion of Chang Yong-jun has been negative, especially because his father is Chang Je-won, a National Assembly member for the People Power Party and head of the “situation room” for Yoon Seok-yeol’s presidential campaign. On September 23, a petition was submitted to Cheong Wa Dae, demanding that Chang Je-won be held responsible for his son’s crimes:
The repeated criminal behavior of National Assembly member Chang Je-won’s son shows that Chang Je-won, as the father, is responsible.
I believe that the confidence with which [Chang’s son] was able to commit such acts came from the existence of his father, Chang Je-won, a member of the National Assembly.
The last time [Chang’s son] committed a crime, he received a suspended sentence, and it is doubtful that such a sentence would have been possible without a member of the National Assembly for a father.
Unlike in the past, nowadays, when drunk driving is considered an act of murder, it seems absurd and undignified for a National Assembly member not to correct or reflect on his son’s continued murderous activities, while brazenly appearing in public to criticize other politicians as if he has no flaws.
Usually, when ordinary people and celebrities do something wrong, even their families and acquaintances act and speak with caution and lay low. In this social climate, where one wrong word can mean social death by media outlets and public opinion, it makes me angry that National Assembly member Chang Je-won and his son are behaving like a boorish king and ignorant royalty from an imperialist age.
I believe we should never entrust these people with public duties.
If the confidence of [his son], who does not stop to think about these kinds of murderous acts, stems from the power of the National Assembly member Chang Je-won, that power must be taken away.
Leaving that power as is is equivalent to giving criminals the cause to commit crime.
I wonder why this family finds so laughable the state power that is harsh and terrifying to the ordinary people.
I want Chang Je-won to be removed from his position as a member of the National Assembly, as he provides confidence for the criminal behavior of [his son] (unlicensed driving, drunk driving, swapping seats with a passenger, assault, obstruction of duty, habitual offender).
— Petitioner, September 23, 2021.
As of September 28, the petition has been signed by over 150,000 people, and if it receives over 200,000 signatures by October 23 then Cheong Wa Dae will provide some kind of response.
On September 19, the day after he was arrested and released, Chang Yong-jun wrote on Instagram:
I have no excuse.
I will accept and receive any punishment for what I have done,
and I will do my best to become a more mature member of society.
Starting with all my fans, to the many people who have suffered because of me, I am very sorry.
— NO:EL (Chang Yong-jun), September 19, 2021.
As public opinion worsened, Chang Je-won expressed his intent to step down from his position at the Yoon Seok-yeol campaign, but was stopped by Yoon, who said that he shouldn’t resign because of his son’s problem.
During a phone call with Yonhap News on September 26, Chang Je-won said:
My wretched heart is breaking. I want to make it clear that I will never exert any influence as a member of the National Assembly regarding the issue of my son.
I once again appeal to the law enforcement authorities.
I hope that my son’s wrongdoings will be dealt with promptly in accordance with the law and principles, without any special consideration.
— Chang Je-won, National Assembly member of the People Power Party, September 26, 2021.
On September 27, during the People Power Party’s Supreme Council meeting, Bae Hyun-Jin, a member of the Supreme Council, spoke about the issues surrounding the families of party members:
…all members of the People Power Party, including the lawmakers and the chairperson, are agents with great public responsibility. Particularly during this presidential election phase, public roles are being demanded not only for party members but also for their families.
The argument that family problems are separate from the problems of party lawmakers or party members has already become something that defies common sense.
However, recently, there have been cases in which the families of our party members have been involved in controversies that defy common sense, and it is beyond regrettable.
Although the members in question have made decisions such as resigning from their National Assembly positions and leaving the party, how uncomfortable has it been in the eyes of the people to watch the long process? And who now doesn’t associate the party with these incidents? Recently, a child of one of our party’s lawmakers has repeatedly been in the national news, causing trouble even while serving a suspended sentence, and this has resulted in someone filing a petition to Cheong Wa Dae. As a member of the Supreme Council and one of Korea’s youth, I find this situation outrageous. …
The lawmakers who are involved in these controversies will need to respond with an attitude of self-restraint and respect in order to make up for the disappointment they have caused the people, instead of avoiding the issues by treating them as family affairs rather than their own.
— Bae Hyun-Jin, People Power Party’s Supreme Council member, September 27, 2021.
On September 28, Chang Je-won resigned from his position as the head of the “situation room” for Yoon Seok-yeol’s presidential campaign, saying that he wanted to take time to reflect on the terrible job he has done of raising his son.
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