OA 학술지
Subjects for Justice in the Divided Korea
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This essay aims at analyzing the problematic of justice from the subjects’ point of view. The author argues that justice is first of all a matter of subjects. In other words, it is a problem of choosing and siding with the faithful subjects. He divides subjects into five categories: faithful subjects, reactionary subjects, opponent subjects, the subaltern, and inmin subjects, of which the faithful subjects are the most genuine bearers of history. He suggests three major historical tasks that the faithful subjects carry out. They are the building of peace and reunification, the constructing of equality and justice in society; and the protection of ecological integrity. They are at least partly interconnected and exist in the context of national division. The author examines the trajectory of the faithful subjects in the Korean history. The Donghak peasant revolutionary war in 1894, the March 1st Movement in 1910 and others were considered here as typical historical events where faithful subjects were involved. He also examines the trajectory of the opponent subjects and others. He finds some meeting points between the faithful subjects and the inmin subjects. He argues that the dialogues and exchanges of the latter two groups of subjects are necessary and required for expanding the space for peace, reconciliation, and reunification between North and South Korea. The author claims that justice is to make clear the differences between/among different groups of subjects. The widening of the gap and difference between different groups of subjects is not the final goal of justice. The ultimate goal and structure of justice is love. Justice in a narrow sense widens the differences between/among groups of subjects in order to clarify different subjectivities and their historical trajectories. Justice in a wider sense reunites all subjects, because justice includes love and reconciliation as its requisites. The author argues that two principles, presentation and representation for minjung must be balanced in our society and that the balance and dialectic of the two principles will contribute to building a new democracy alternative to the inhuman jungle-like liberal democracy (South Korea) and to the rigid and controlled socialist democracy (North Korea). Finally, the author finds Jesus as the model of presentation and representation for others. His cross can be seen as an event of presentation (direct participation in the suffering situation) and representation for poor and suffering people. The author also analyzes Jesus and his events from the subjects’ point of view.

Subjects , justice , Donghak Peasant Revolution , presentation , representation , national division , peace , reunification
  • Introduction

    In this essay, I will attempt to demonstrate justice as a matter of subjects; this is because the concern must be about who creates justice at a historical juncture. It is also a matter of relationship among the various types of subjects. Authentic subjects are the agents maximizing the possibility of justice in historical circumstances. They are those whom the prophet Amos envisioned appearing in history; the ones who, in history, let “justice roll down like water” (Amos 5:24). They are bearers of history, who break up the situation where oppression and injustice prevail, and create a situation of new possibilities. They take part in a historical event, and are faithful to its truths. They participate in immortality by being faithful to the truths in history that bring about justice and peace.

    Justice involves such a variety of issues that it looks like there are as many kinds of justice as there are issues: e.g., distributive justice, retributive justice, racial justice, eco-justice, gender justice, animal justice, social justice, economic justice, political justice, etc., etc. Justice is very often misused and abused as seen in the case of “just war.” The spectrum of the issues related to justice is so wide that we must say that each situation at a specific historical time creates its own specific issues of justice. Such a wide spectrum of the issues of justice increases our confusion about justice. In order to attain more comprehensive understanding of justice, and also to consider the situational and historical character of justice, I will see the problematic of justice from the perspective of the subjects. Simply speaking, I will see justice as a matter of discerning and supporting the subjects who contribute to the building of justice in history and society. I believe that such an approach will contribute to clarifying the practical meaning of justice in the specific situation of the Divided Korea.

    The subjects who commit themselves to the truths of historical events will return alive in history, because they are faithful to the truths which are immortal. For Alain Badiou, a rupture that starts a new beginning in the world and history is an event2) which carries truths in it.3) The event of Spartacus’ rebellion of slaves had historical truths, whose faithful subjects participated in it and six thousand revolutionary slaves were crucified after their defeat by Roman imperial armies. But the movement of Spartacus and his slave armies has been resurrected in different times of history, e.g. the Spartacus League in 1918 Germany.4) The Donghak Peasant Revolution in 1894 is another example. The Donghak peasant movement was resurrected in the Just Army movement (1895-1910), in the March 1 movement in 1919, and modern peasant and minjung movements in Korea.

    How and when are faithful subjects created? Faithful subjects are created when they are encountered with, and committed to, historical events which open a new beginning. The subjectivation of the people takes place only when they internalize the truths of the historical events. Subjectivation is integratively connected with a truthful event that takes place at an opportune time (Kairos) in history.

    2)Alain Badiou, Logics of Worlds: Being and Event, 2, trans. Alberto Toscano (London, New York: Continuum, 2009), 50. Originally published in French as Logiques des mondes (Editions du Seuil, 2006).   3)Alain Badiou, Being and Event (London, UK: Continuum, 2007), 99, 407, 507.   4)The Spartacus League was a Marxist organization established by Rosa Luxemburg and other Marxists in Germany during the First World War.

    The subjective approach to Justice

    A landscape is so wide that we cannot grasp the whole at one glance and from one point of perspective. What we can do is to see and grasp it from a certain point of view. Likewise, if we are not able to see the whole of justice, then we have to see it from the perspective of the faithful subjects. That is, issues related to justice must be viewed and understood from the vantage point of the faithful subjects. But in real life, visions, understandings, and activities in relation to the issues of justice are different among different subjects, or different types of subjects, and without exception, are conflictual with one another. Justice in the subjective perspective is a matter of supporting the faithful subjects in history. Then, justice for the elite classes and leading intellectuals who are in a position of representing the less privileged people is a matter of protecting and representing the faithful subjects in history, who struggle for peace and justice. Justice is also a matter of participating in the sufferings of the faithful subjects in their struggles for justice and peace in historical context.

    History is a stage where the conflicts and forms of cooperation among different subjects take place. It has been particularly so in the Korean peninsula. It is a general principle that particular ideas and consciousnesses are selected and organized into the construction of a particular subjectivation and subjectivity. Also it should be noted that subjectivation process takes place in a concrete historical situation, i.e., in the situation of the division of the nation into North and South Korea. Discourses, theories, and valuations are not determined objectively but subjectively, not in a vacuum but in a particular historical situation. Different subjects hold different discourses, theories, and valuations with regard to the situation, because they see the situation in their subjective perspectives. The faithful subjects construct their discourses, theories and valuations in a way that they contribute practically to enhancing peace, life, and justice.

    Different Types of Subjects in the Korean Peninsula

    I would like to suggest five different types of subjects that appear in Korea. They are (1) the faithful subjects, (2) the reactionary subjects, (3) the opponent subjects, (4) the subaltern, and (5) the inmin subjects.

    1. The Faithful Subjects: They are, in the story of Jesus, his faithful disciples and followers (ochlos). In the historical context of Korea, faithful subjects can be referred to as the agents who participate in and put their trust in the truths of historical events such as the Donghak Peasant Revolution in 1894, the March 1st Independence Movement in 1919, the movements for human rights and democracy in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the Peace and Reunification Movement in the 1990’s and after, and the movement for ecological integrity.

    Another example: More than two thousands of laid-off Ssangyong Motor workers were forced to become faithful subjects as they started labor strikes in 2009. They were forced to become scapegoats by the harsh reality of the “cut-throat” neoliberal capitalism. But these laid-off workers struggled to change it and have become the core of the faithful subjects of our time in the midst of enormous unbearable sufferings. As of this day, 23 Ssangyong workers and their family members have died of suicide and diseases, which should be seen as social murders committed by the whole society.5)

    Those historical events carry truths which attract their adherent, the faithful subjects. The struggle of the faithful subjects may not be successful during their time, but because they are faithful to the truths in the event, they and their dream will not die.

    I would roughly define the historical tasks that the faithful subjects must carry out today in Korea. They are the building of peace and reunification of Korea, the constructing of equality and justice in society, and the protection of ecological health and integrity. Such major tasks of the faithful subjects in turn entrust them to transform the political and economic structures into more just ones.

    2. The Reactionary Subjects: They do not participate in the new beginning that the historical event brings about. They do not think the historical event brings about a new beginning. They disagree with the faithful subjects and remain in the past state. Among these reactionary subjects, there can be some who collaborate with and join the opponent subjects in the latter’s campaign against the faithful subjects. During the Donghak Peasant Revolution most nobles and aristocrats, and some peasants remained in this posture. They denied the new possibilities the event of Donghak Revolution had brought, either for fear of its failure or for their simple rejection of it. The reactionaries opt for the past way of living. They believe that the continuation of the past in the present is safer for them than a new beginning that brings about a drastic change.

    3. The Opponent Subjects: They seek to abolish the new present of a new beginning. Alain Badiou names this type of subject the obscure subjects, because the abolition of the new present is made possible by enclosing it into obscurity.6) Obscure subjects obscure the truth faithful subjects adhere to by translating it for their own use. For example, during the reign of the 5th Republic of Korea the former general and president Chun Doohwan used the terminology of justice to justify his rule. After brutal suppression of the Kwangju citizens’ uprising, he campaigned for the construction of a just society. The incumbent president Lee Myungbak “stole” the term “Green” which contains the meaning of ecological integrity to justify the government’s development project of the Four Great Rivers, and to obscure the reality of ecological destruction it brings about. But I do not here adopt his naming because it is too obscure and unclear. So I rather use the term opponent for this type of subjects.

    The opponent subjects go further than reactionary subjects. The opponents do not remain inactive, but actively engage in annihilating the faithful subjects, as the Romans and other collaborators did against Jesus and his faithful disciples. They mobilize the reactionary elements in breaking up the faithful subjects. Today the opponent subjects are composed of neo-cons, new rights, and conservative political leaders and religious leaders. Some opponent subjects disguise themselves as faithful subjects using the latter’s terminologies and ideas. But in actuality the former oppose and attack the latter.

    The prime aim of the opponent subjects is to prevent the coming of a new possibility/revolution by any means. In order to obscure the new present, they create a panacea as its replacement that would confuse other subjects and divert them from the new present opened up by a truthful event. Neoliberal capitalists envision an illusionary and utopian future that they claim would bring us prosperity and development. At the time of the Donghak peasant revolution, the so-called enlightened elites had envisioned a future of a strong nation to be realized by the help of Japan, which turned out an illusion. In the era of national division, the opponent subjects advocate such policies as anti-North Korea, pro-Americanism, antipacifism, aggressive and bellicose militarism, and economic advancement. The political and the military elites acted as the opponent subjects. These subjects often aligned themselves with imperialists to suppress the faithful subjects, as we can see at the time of the Donghak peasant revolution when the government bureaucrats and military armies were aligned with Japanese powers to kill the Donghak peasant armies.

    4. The Subaltern: The category of subaltern was popularized by the scholars of neocolonialism such as Gayatri C. Spivak, an Indian-American professor of philosophy. This term can be used to explain the situation of the minjung in Korea. The subaltern refers to minjung who are so isolated and scattered as to have lost their ability to speak. Spivak came to the conclusion that the subaltern cannot speak.7) I believe that the subaltern have the potentiality to gain their voices, speak for themselves, and become the faithful subjects at a favorable moment. Spivak affirms that the intellectuals and elites have to assume the role of faithful and good-will representatives for the subaltern. But I believe that we should go further. The subaltern must become the subjects for their own destiny. They belong to society, and they are visible, but their presence is not well recognized. They are treated as void and nothing in society. They are constantly sacrificed as scapegoats in the ne-colonial and neo-liberal capitalist society. In such a situation we need not only good representation for them by others but also their own selfpresentation in order to break such a hard and inhuman system.

    5. The Inmin: The inmin is the minjung in North Korea. North Korea uses the term inmin more favorably than minjung, which is used in South Korea. Inmin is literally composed of two characters: in (human) and min (ordinary people under governing rulers). In the historical process of North Korea, inmin has gradually attained a new connotation. They are the people controlled and guided by totalitarian communist state and party. They belong to the state, but they are not fully represented in and by the State. They do not enjoy the full freedom to present themselves as active agents in society or state. In many respects they are different from the faithful subjects. They are not allowed to criticize the State; they are not free enough to be critical about things going on in situations they know of. They are willingly or unwillingly submitted to the ruling state and the ruling Workers’ Party. They share the aspiration for peace and reunification with the faithful subjects. But they often change their position as they are told by the State and the party. North Korea’s three generation rule of the Kim family (Kim Illsung, Kim Jungil, Kim Jungun) has resulted in consolidating such an authoritarian or totalitarian State to which the inmin cannot but submit.

    The inmin subjects have been engaged in the struggles against imperialism and for the independence of the nation. In this respect they share the characteristics of the faithful subjects. Both the inmin and the faithful subjects inherit the traditions of the Donghak peasant movement, the just army movement, the anti-Japanese independence movement, and the movement for reunification and peace. But the inmin subjects are unified under the control of the State and the party and follow their lead. Dialogues and mutual exchanges between the faithful subjects and the inmin subjects may well bring a great impact on the future of the Korean Peninsula. These mutual reconciliatory actions will expand the space for peace and reunification of Korea.

    5)A detailed reportage on Ssangyong labor strikes is published by a best-selling  novelist, Kong Ji-young, Uijanoli [Chair Game], (Seoul: Humanist, 2012).   6)Logics of Worlds, 59.   7)Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” Rosalind C. Morris, ed. Can the Subaltern Speak?: Reflections on the History of an Idea, (New York, N.Y.:Columbia University Press, 2010): 43.

    The Trajectory of the Faithful Subjects in the History of Korea

    The Donghak peasant revolution in 1894 was an event that transformed ordinary peasants into faithful subjects. The opponent subjects were the power elites of Chosun (feudal Korea). The power elites of Chosun regarded Japan as a model that Chosun should imitate. Japan modernized itself and economically and militarily developed itself by policies opening its door toward Western nations. When the peasant revolution took place, the elites and intellectuals in the government of Chosun sided with Japan and, under the latter’s assistance, attacked the Donghak revolutionary peasants, who struggled against Japanese imperialism and demanded the reform of the Chosun state. At the first revolt of the peasant revolution (March-May, 1894), the government forces were defeated by the peasants. At the second revolt (September-November 1894), tens of thousands of poorly armed Donghak peasants were defeated by the allied forces of the Chosun royal army and Japanese imperial army, both armed with advanced weaponry. The result of the defeat of the revolutionaries was the fall of Chosun into the hands of Japanese imperialists. At this point I would like to make a wild imaginative leap, that is, what if the Chosun royal army joined the Donghak peasants and the unified forces fought the Japanese armies? However, the solidarity of the political elites with the minjung, or the faithful representation by the political elites for the faithful subjects was still an impossibility.

    During the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945), the faithful subjects struggled for the independence of Korea in armed struggles, labor strikes, peasant movements, and other movements by religious people, intellectuals, and students. Because the Korean nation-state no longer existed after its forced annexation to Japan, all Koreans fell to the status of the subaltern minjung without any political body to represent or speak for them in the international or domestic sphere. In this situation, some turned to faithful subjects aiming at building an independent and democratic country and some to reactionary subjects. The vast majority of the subaltern minjung remained in the state of subalternity. But some others took part in the opponent subjects, becoming beneficiaries of the imperial rule.

    The independence from the colonial occupation ended in 1945 leaving the nation divided along the line drawn by the super powers, the U.S and the U.S.S.R. The faithful subjects’ struggle for peace, reunification and a genuine independence from the legacy of colonialism, which is the national division, continues but encounters oppression from political elites. The progressive and reformist political forces were systematically crushed by the pro-American, anti-communist authoritarian State. Massive massacres of the left-leaning people around the time of Korean War, 1950-53, and the imprisonments, tortures and executions of progressive sectors of the society have characterized the postcolonial history of Korea. A historian affirmed that the construction process of the ultra-rightist and anti-communist system in South Korea could not be explained without taking into account the massacres of innocent people.8) The first president Rhee Syngman (1948-1960) systematically eradicated faithful subjects and consolidated the anticommunist system. The military leader and president Park Chunghee succeeded the anti-communist system of his predecessor and intensified it.

    Have there been historical occasions when the political elites aligned themselves with the self-conscious minjung (the faithful subjects in history) in Korea? In other words, how often have the political elites genuinely represented the faithful subjects who have been engaged with the task of peace and reunification, and with the task of establishing equality and justice in Korea? In recent history the political elites have partly, not wholly, represented the faithful subjects. For example, the general-turned-president Roh Taewoo worked for peace and reconciliation with North Korea in the early 1990’s. The June 15, 2000 North-South Joint Declaration by President Kim Daejung and Premier Kim Jongil, and the October 4, 2007 Declaration by President Roh Moohyun and Premier Kim Jongil should be counted as representing the aspirations of the minjung and inmin for peace and reunification.

    The international community also contributed to peace and reconciliation in the Korean peninsula. The September 19, 2005 Joint Declaration by the Six-Nation Forum on Denuclearization in North Korea prescribed that North Korea dismantle the nuclear weapons and that the relationship between North Korea and the U.S. be normalized. Such international efforts for peace in the Korean peninsula can also be considered as a representation for minjung. Such a genuine and good-willed representation by the political elites is necessary for establishing justice and historical integrity. By good-willed representation for the faithful subjects, the political elites can join them in changing the neocolonial/colonial history.

    The faithful subjects in the Korean Peninsula hold the idea that the most fundamental and urgent thing is the permanent ending of the state of war and constructing peace and preparing the path to mutual understanding and exchange of two different systems in the Korean peninsula. Mutual understanding of the differences each has and gradual consensus through dialogue and exchange between the two different systems should be pursued on the basis of mutual respect and love. The faithful subjects aim at justice in history based on love and respect. In other words, those who work and practice justice based on love and respect in history and society are the faithful subjects of history. Therefore, they are those who work to change the truce (temporary halting of war) between North Korea and South Korea (the U.S.) to a permanent peace treaty, to construct a peaceful system in both Koreas, reduction of the army, North Korea-U.S. agreement, North Korea-Japan agreement, and non-nuclearization, etc.

    There are other subjects who deny such efforts of the faithful subjects. I call them in this essay opponent subjects. They are composed of various groups, home and abroad, such as neo-cons in the U.S., new rights in South Korea, and nationalist-rightists in Japan. They are hawkish and anticommunist. They threaten North Korea by superior weaponry and economic powers. Economic sanctions and embargo are imposed on North Korea to punish and curb its defiant and “undesirable” actions and policies. Of course, North Korea is a totalitarian society; the human rights of the populace are constrained and violated; its economic situation is so seriously bad that many of the people suffer hunger and poverty. But when it comes to national sovereignty, North Korea should be commended for its long struggle to preserve her independence and self-reliance in defiance of imperialist interventions. Such a merit, however, has been obtained at the expense of democracy, human rights and economic development, which are considered as crucial elements in the eyes of liberal democratic, capitalist world. The faithful subjects appreciate highly the struggle for self-reliance and independence by North Korea and hope that this contributes to mutuality, peace, reconciliation, and reunification with South Korea and to the construction of a very new nation of “social democracy,” which overcomes both the inhuman jungle-like liberal democracy (South Korea) and rigid and controlled socialist democracy (North Korea). The opponent subjects and reactionary subjects have been threatening and attacking both inmin subjects and faithful subjects. They envision a different nation in which self-reliance and sovereignty of the populace is less important, if not undesirable, a nation which is dependent on American political, military, economic power.

    The faithful subjects believe that international powers should not violate North Korea’s integrity, but should support it to develop in her own way and open it to, and be more related to, the outside with self-confidence and assured security. Any attempt to break the State of North Korea should be denied and opposed, because the national division must be overcome by justice based on love. Love plays together with justice. The opponent subjects also appeals to justice, but their justice is not based on love and life, but on force and death. They love to apply justice to war, as can be seen in their favorite idea, “just war.”

    8)Suh, Joong-sok, “Research Trends on the Massacres of Innocent People before and after the Korean War,” Suh, Joong-sok , et. al, Jonjaeng-sok-ui Tto-darunjonjaeng, [Another War within War] (Seoul: Sonin, 2011): 29-30.

    Peace and Reunification through Subjects and from the Bottom

    Peace and unification in the Korean peninsula must not be made possible only by negotiations on the level of the government and the state, or by superpowers like the U. S., but by dialogue and exchange based on mutual trust and respect. Reunification should be first of all the one between different subjects. It should be a cultural and intellectual reunification among different subjects, and afterwards a political reunification between two States/governments. The faithful subjects of South Korea and the inmin subjects in North Korea must realize a cultural and intellectual reunification by dialogues and exchanges. The states of North and South Korea must encourage the cultural and intellectual unification by becoming faithful representatives of those subjects. Reunification made possible only by the negotiations among governments may end up being a unilateral, one-sided, and divisive one.

    Conservative opponents and reactionaries may see such cultural reunification among different subjects as utopian and unrealistic, and even dangerous because communists can manipulate it for their own advantage. They argue that dialogue and exchange based on mutual respect is an illusionary attempt and is doomed to fail. Such a stubborn posture on the North and its inmin enforces the state of the semi-war to perpetuate. The state of semi-war and cold war may be escalated to a total war. Opponent subjects are insensitive to, and even enjoy, the danger of such an escalation; they often obtain benefits out of the tense state. But enjoying in, and benefitting out of, such a tense state is contrary to peace, justice and life. Opponent subjects have appeared in different times of history. They were at the time of the Donghak peasant revolution the Chosun elites and aristocrats who were aligned with foreign powers and joined in destroying the revolutionary forces. They are at the present times pro-American political elites, bureaucrats, and intellectuals. One of the leading new right intellectuals argues, “We have to choose the highest-priority task between socio-economic advancement and national reunification. We must recognize the socio-economic advancement as the highest-priority task, and repeal the June 15, 2000 North-South Summit Declaration.” 9)

    As I mentioned above, the faithful subjects carry out three major tasks today. They are agents acting to achieve peace and reconciliation with North Korea, workers struggling to establish justice and equality in employment and labor in the neoliberal capitalism, and bearers of life to save the environment and the life of the creation. They strive to establish a political democracy where all are fully and responsibly represented as well as allowed to participate in decision-making. In this sense, a political state is just when it attains both responsible representation for minjung and active presentation by minjung themselves, in other words, both a good representative democracy and a good direct democracy. In the history of politics in South Korea, conservative and reactionary government repeals agendas set up by the previous progressive government and run the country in a reverse direction, and in so doing, it fails to responsibly represent the faithful subjects. But in Germany, reunification was the top agenda of the progressive SPD (Social Party in Deutschland), which started the Ostpolitik (A Reconciliation Policy toward Eastern socialist bloc and East Germany). The conservative government of the CDU (Christian Democratic Union in Deutschland) pushed forward the Ostpolitik and it was under CDU government that Germany was reunified. It shows that politics in Germany is more responsibly representative for ordinary people than in Korea, where the conservative government has kept destroying the voices and aspirations of faithful subjects for peace and reconciliation with North Korea. Korea’s conservative governments not only ignore, but crush the voices of minjung, as can be seen in the cases of the 2009 Yongsan tenant resistance that resulted in 6 deaths including one policeman, the 2009 Ssangyong Motor labor strikes, and the 2012 Jeju Island protests against ecological destructions.

    I would like to argue that three major contradictions of national division, economic disparity and injustice, and ecological problems are not totally separate problems from one another, and also that national division is more fundamental than the others. Although we do not believe that peace and reconciliation in Korean reunification will be the panacea of all other social diseases, it will be a good starting point from which we can advance forward.

    9)Ahn Byung-jik, “Political and Economic Trends in Korea - In search of a Model  of Nation’s Advancement” Shidaejongshin [The Spirit of the Times] Issue of Autumn, 2006: 69.

    Theological Reflections

      >  Jesus’ New Beginning and Its Faithful Subjects

    Kairos, the opportune time, came with the coming of Jesus. The faithful subjects were created when they encountered the event of Jesus, were amazed by his truths, and committed themselves to his call. The Gospel of Luke, 4:18-21 records the event at a synagogue in Nazareth, where Jesus read a passage from Isaiah. Through the Isaiah passage Jesus announced that he had come to bring good news to the poor, release the captives, to give recovery of sight to the blind and to let the oppressed go free. To the amazed hearers, Jesus proclaimed that the new Present has come about with his saying, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

    When Jesus announced his public mission, people were divided into pros and cons. Jesus gained his faithful followers, but on the other hand he encountered his opponents. The Jesus event created different subjects - one his faithful subjects, the other his enemies who opposed him and the faithful subjects of the Jesus’ event. The faithful subjects were those who gave faith in the truth of the Jesus event: the coming of a new reality where oppressed people such as the poor, the captives, and the blind are healed and liberated. His opponents were composed of different groups: the Pharisees, the High Priests, the Zealots, the Herodians, and the Romans. These groups of subjects opposed Jesus and his faithful followers because they denied the truth of his announcement and did not share with his values and visions. Each of these opponent subject groups had its own interests to be gratified. Their interests collided head on with the reality Jesus envisioned. The Romans, the Herodians, and the High Priests sought to annihilate the Jesus’ liberation movement. The Pharisees and the Zealots seemed to oppose Jesus with less intensity than other groups. The Romans specifically saw Jesus’ vision and his activities as unacceptable because they believed that the Roman Empire was already the new beginning on earth. Another beginning other than the one opened by Caesar could not be allowed in the territory of the Roman Empire.

    Among the opponent subjects there were others who dropped the subjectivity of their groups and were converted to the group of faithful subjects. The Roman centurion who asked Jesus to cure his servant was praised by Jesus as faithful (Matt 8:10; Lk 7:9). Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector and rich man, in Luke 19:1-10, was converted to the side of the faithful subjects. The faithful subject-hood is not decided by status, class, ethnicity, and nation, but by the fidelity to the truth of the event, regardless of them.

      >  Jesus: Model of Presentation and Representation

    Jesus was both a faithful subject and a responsible representative of faithful subjects. He presented his voices as a subject of God’s salvific history and he also represented the voices of other oppressed people. He represented them by participating with them. He suffered for the sake of both himself and the ochlos (minjung). His cross was his own presentation of his zeal and aspiration for Kingdom of God as well as the representation for others.

    The late minjung theologian Suh Namdong commended theological students to become priests of han.10) He advised them to be faithful friends, representatives, agents, of suffering, han-ridden subjects. He wrote:

    Disciples and followers of Jesus Christ must become responsible representatives and voices for suffering faithful subjects. In order to carry out the task of good and responsible representation, participation in the suffering of the faithful subjects is necessary and required. Jesus demonstrated a model of balance and dialectic between presentation/participation and representation. Accordingly, churches must follow him and imitate his participation in, and representation of, the suffering faithful subjects.

      >  Justice and Love

    Justice without love can be deficient, dangerous, and harmful. If justice is considered only as punishment of wrongdoings, love cannot reside in it. Love has the characteristic of reuniting the separated parts.12) Justice is to separate victim from victimizer, drive a wedge between them, and examine how much the latter has harmed the former (victim). But that is not the end of justice. Reunification is the final end of justice. Justice is not opposed to love and reconciliation, but they are to be integrated into one. There is no duality between justice and love. They are one, as Paul Tillich asserts, “love is the ultimate principle of justice.” Tillich continues, justice is “the form in which and through which love performs its work.” 13) Love requires subjects to be reunited. Justice preserves faithful subjects. The subjects of South Korea and the inmin subjects of North Korea must be preserved and reunited.

    Justice and love is necessary as a cure for the divided Korea. Love brings about reconciliation among different subjects, inmin subjects, faithful subjects, and opponent and reactionary subjects. Justice does not eradicate the differences between/among them, but discloses them. Love works in these differences. Faithful subjects combine love and justice into a “creative justice,” to borrow the idea of Paul Tillich.14)

    Justice is to see to it that each of the different subject types is preserved and waiting for reconciliation through respect for each other. Among different kinds of subjects, faithful subjects must carry out the role of the agents to fulfill reconciliation and reunification. Political elites and intellectuals must assist them by representing them and participating in them.

    10)Han is a Korean term to denote aching feeling originated from long term  suffering of injustice, a sentiment which is sedimented into the depth of heart and waiting to be resolved.   11)Suh, Nam-dong, Minjung Shinhak Tamgoo [Investigation of Minjung  Theology] (Seoul: Hangilsa, 1983), 44.   12)Paul Tillich, Love, Power, and Justice (London, Oxford, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1960), 68-69.   13)Ibid., 71.   14)Ibid.

    Concluding Remarks

    Is reconciliation possible between the faithful subject and the opponent subject? Is it possible between the inmin subject and the opponent subject? Justice in a narrow sense is to support the faithful subject. Justice in a wider sense is to establish reunification and reconciliation among different subjects. Therefore, the ultimate goal of justice is not the calculating and balancing of merits and failures, but love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and reunification. Jesus showed an example of justice in John 8, where Jesus encountered a woman caught in adultery. The Jews brought with them calculative, proportional, retributive justice. The Jews believed that because this woman committed adultery, she must be punished by stoning to death following the Mosaic laws. Stoning is a cruel and primitive summary execution. Jesus widened the idea of justice to incorporate into it love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. For him, the ultimate principle of justice is love. Forgiveness and reconciliation is the ultimate purpose of justice. In the story of the caught woman in John 8:3-11, there are three subjects: the first are Jewish scribes and Pharisees, the second the woman caught for adultery, the third Jesus. The consideration of justice took place in the framework of the interactions of the three subjects. Jesus responsibly represented the woman and criticized the scribes and Pharisees, by writing on the ground, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Justice is not simply a matter of an objective principle, it is a subjective matter. Justice is a matter of siding with some subjects and rejecting others. Jesus, the faithful subject, sided with, and represented, the most vulnerable subject. He became the voice of han.

    I started this essay by saying that justice is a matter between subjects, especially between faithful subjects and opponent subjects. I would like to end this essay by saying that the ultimate principle and goal of justice is love and reconciliation. How can we put together these two seemingly contradictory remarks? I think that this contradiction should be resolved subjectively, that is, by the faithful subjects. Like Jesus, they must show love and will to reconciliation in their pursuit to realize justice.

    Justice is a matter of discerning the faithful subjects, siding with them, participating with them and representing them. The final goal of justice, however, should be reconciliation. The domestic situation of South Korea is grim and dark. There are more and more temporarily employed workers, irregular workers, and laid-off workers on the street protesting the government and neoliberal capitalism. The neoliberal capitalist system backed by the state power continues to produce scapegoats and “kill” them. More people live in poverty, and constantly impoverished by huge personal and familial debts. Many people live on debts, once they are out of jobs and caught in the trap of an extractive banking system. How can we alleviate this situation? How can we prospect reconciliation in such a situation? I believe that a democracy where presentation of and representation for all subjects in society is guaranteed and secured, is able to provide the clue to avoid the increase of such inhumanities.

  • 1. Ahn Byung-jik 2006 “Political and Economic Trends in Korea - In search of a Model of Nation’s Advancement” [Shidaejongshin [The Spirit of the Times].] google
  • 2. Badiou Alai 2009 Logics of Worlds: Being and Event, 2, Trans. Alberto Toscano. google
  • 3. Badiou Alai 2007 Being and Event. google
  • 4. Kong Ji-young 2012 Uijanoli [Chair Game]. google
  • 5. Spivak Gayatri Chakravorty 2010 “Can the Subaltern Speak?” Ed. Rosalind C. Morris. Can the Subaltern Speak?: Reflections on the History of an Idea. google
  • 6. Suh Joong-sok 2011 “Research Trends on the Massacres of Innocent People before and after the Korean War,” Suh Joongsok , et. al, Jonjaeng-sok-ui TTo-darunjonjaeng, [Another War within War]. google
  • 7. Suh Nam-dong 1983 Minjung Shinhak Tamgoo [Investigation of Minjung Theology]. google
  • 8. Tillich Paul 1960 Love, Power, and Justice. google
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