This moment, as soon as it was published by the press, made many Korean netizens extremely angry. Korea’s Vice-minister is facing heavy criticism.
On the morning of August 27, Korean Vice Minister of Justice Kang Sung Kook gave a short outdoor speech in front of the National Human Resources Development Institute. The speech was about the initial immigration policy for Afghans. This is an important act on human rights, but ironically how his speech took place has caused controversy over human rights for employees who work under him.
In the series of photos published by the press, it can be seen that it was raining heavily that day. Therefore, a staff member had to hold up an umbrella for the Vice-minister, but what was noticeable was that this staff member even had to do this while kneeling on the wet asphalt floor for 10 minutes.
When it was broadcast on television, the face of this employee and him kneeling was not visible, but press photos taken at the location showed the controversial situation and made Korean netizens angry. These photos became a hot topic on online forums and attracted thousands of negative comments. An indignant netizen said, “While the government is talking about the human rights policy for foreigners, it is the human rights of Korean employees that are being stepped on.”
In response to the criticism, the Korean Ministry of Justice spoke out on the incident and said that the employee voluntarily did so to “avoid getting into the camera”. They also said that this speech must be held outdoors to avoid gathering in a closed room due to the pandemic. A spokesman of the ministry stated: ‘I think this happened because we were trying to avoid staff getting into the camera. We did not command him to kneel.’
After that, Vice-minister Kang Sung Kook himself also issued an apology for causing controversy. He said: “I apologize to the public. I didn’t realize the effort of a Ministry of Justice’s employee to make sure the press conference could take place formally and productively.”
However, these apologies and explanations did not calm the public down. Many netizens said that it is illogical to claim that ‘the employee volunteered to kneel’ because the video that was later uploaded also clearly showed another person in charge pushing an umbrella with one hand and pointing forward with the other hand, implicitly reminding the employee to tilt the umbrella more towards the Vice minister. No one had the intention to ask the employee to get up during those 10 minutes.
This occurrence currently makes Korean netizens, especially young people, extremely angry. In related online posts, netizens also shared pictures of officials in other countries holding umbrellas by themselves, even more, senior ones such as the Prime Minister, President, Supreme Leader, etc.
In particular, Koreans also feel uncomfortable when even North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could hold an umbrella for himself, while the South Korean Vice-minister shows “bureaucracy”. Lee Jun Seok, the youngest Chairman of the Korean People’s Power Party (PPP) is now calling for Vice-minister Kang Sung Kook to resign.
Some comments from Knets on the incident:
- Don’t you have hands? You could have held the umbrella for yourself. This is really not cool at all.
- Hold your own umbrella!! Even Kim Jong Un could hold an umbrella by himself!!
- What would the employee’s parents think if they saw this picture!!
- This is embarrassing!! This image will be spread everywhere!!
- Please… Even the President doesn’t act like that!!
- I wonder what he was thinking during 10 minutes of kneeling in the rain like that…
- Why didn’t anyone tell the employee to get up? He could still stand to the side holding the umbrella.
- If you were afraid of the employee getting into the camera, you could have held an umbrella by yourself!!
- This hurts, if you were his mother, how would you feel when your son had to do this?
- This is not the Chosun era!! Why would you still treat people like slaves!
- They said he volunteered, but clearly someone even adjusted his hand while he was holding the umbrella!
- Seeing this makes us young people extremely angry!
- The most terrifying thing is that the employee will probably have to quit his job even though he did nothing wrong.