Korea: On Parents’ Love, Power and Money

One Korean chaebol (head of a conglomerate) apparently watches too many Hong Kong and Korean gangster films. The CEO of Hanwha, one of the ten biggest companies in South Korea, was questioned recently by police about an alleged revenge attack for injuries inflicted upon his son, who studies in the U.S. and had returned to Korea for a while. The CEO, Kim Seung-youn, must have been upset to see his son injured to the point of requiring 11 stitches, as any parent would be. In seeking retribution, however, he may have gone too far. Kim Seung-youn hired gangsters in order to seek revenge on the people who beat his son. The businessman is also suspected of having participated directly in the attack, although he denies it. His status as a wealthy and powerful man, as a father who dotes on his son and the role of the intensely competitive media have raised several issues for ordinary Koreans.

Blogger Baram8 criticizes the media and tries to understand Kim Seung-youn as a father:

제 생각에는 김승연 회장이 재벌이란 이유로 너무 지나친 비난을 받고 있다고 생각합니다.

사실 문제의 원인은 김승연 회장의 아들을 폭행한 그 종업원들에게 있지 않나요?
그들은 말이 종업원이지 북창동 깡패 내지는 조폭이라고 생각합니다.
사람을 8명이서 패서 10바늘 꿰메게 만들고, 억울하면 북창동으로 찾아오라고 명함을 줬다는데…

힘없는 서민이 그런 일 당했으면 어디 겁나서 찾아가거나 경찰에 신고나 했겠습니까?

그나마 힘있는 사람이니 그렇게라도 아들 복수를 해준거지요. (물론 그게 옳은 행동은 아니었지만,)
경찰에 고발 조치를 했어야 옳았다고 생각하지만, 한편으로 저는 속 시원하게 복수했다고 생각합니다.

그리고 언론은 그 종업원 8명이 처음에 김승연 아들을 폭행한 것은 거의 다루지도 않더군요.
오직 김승연 회장이 직접 때렸나 안때렸나에만 초점이 잡힌 듯 합니다.
기자들은 건수하나 제대로 잡은 듯이 이슈화에 혈안이군요.

여러분들은 어떻게 생각하세요?

In my opinion, I think Kim Seung-youn is harshly criticized because he is chaebol. Isn't the cause of the scandal the bar staff who beat his son? They are not just waiters but gangsters. Eight people beat one person. They even gave the son their name cards and said if he felt victimized he could come back to them. Think about it if it happened to a common person! Scared enough and couldn't go to report to the police. Kim Seung-youn had power. So he revenged for his son (of course, I know his action was not appropriate). He should have reported it to the police first. But I think it makes sense why he sought revenge. One interesting thing is that the media doesn't focus on the eight bar staff members who beat Kim Seung-youn's son at all. They are just talking about whether Kim Seung-youn was involved in beating them directly or not. They're just crazy about a new fresh scandal that can get the attention. What do you think?

Bloggers like Coolcat are discussing how a simple fight turned into a big deal over time:

재벌 폭행 사건 처음 듣고 어느 그룹인지 졸라 궁금해 함..
다음날 출근하자 인터넷 뒤져보고 한화 임을 알게 됨.. 김승연 회장이라는 말에 고개가 끄덕여짐.
아들이 맞고 온거 가서 복수해준, 동네에서도 흔히 있는 일이라서 재밌다고만 생각 함.
북창동 건너편에서 근무 했던바 북창동을 아는데 거기 종업원이 재벌 2세들 노는 룸살롱에서 같이 술먹는 거 보고 놀랐음.
내용이 심각 하게 돌아감.
카더라 통신에 북창동 종업원이 조폭이라는 설이 나돌음. 이제야 말이 된다고 생각.. 업소 관리 하던 조폭이 청담동 갔다가 싸가지 없는 재벌 2세 폭행 한 것으로 생각 함.
갑자기 김승연 회장 동정론으로 급선회… 나도 내자식이 맞고 왔으면 때린놈 가서 두들겨 주고 싶음. 단지 난 힘이 없어서 깨갱 할꺼고 김승연 회장은 힘이 있어 사용 한것으로 생각. 게다가 남들 괴롭히는 조폭들이라고 하니 칭찬해 주고 싶음. 추가적으로 아들은 예일대 다니는 개망나니는 아닌것으로 알려짐.
혹시나 했는데 김회장이 산에 끌고 가서 가죽점퍼 입고 쇠파이프로 때렸다고 함. 영화보다도 더함. 아마 조폭 영화를 너무 많이 본 것 같음.
평범한 서민들만 대리 만족 느낌….. 조폭 쪼가리 한테 대리 복수해준 김회장 한테 박수를… 무소불위 재벌 회장을 폭행죄로 감옥 보내줄 북창동 쪼가리 한테 박수를…

After I heard about the “chaebol violence scandal,” I was curious who it was.
The next day, I got to know it was Hanwha through the internet… It was easy to understand who did it.
I thought ‘the revenge for the son’ can happen anywhere easily. I just thought it is an interesting story.
I know about that area, Buk-chang-dong, where his son was beaten because I have been working there. I was surprised that the employees there drink with second generation chaebol kids in the bar.
Suddenly, a simple story turned serious.
Rumor has it that the employees are gansters. Now the story is completely comprehensible. It seems that the gangster in charge of the bar beat the arrogant rich kid.
A sudden increase in comiseration for Kim Seung-youn… I would get revenge on a group of people who beat my son. But I can't do that because I don't have power, but Kim had power. So he used it. In addition, he beat a gangster who harrasses common citizens. I rather compliment Kim. Adding one more thing, his son is not rowdy, but a student at Yale.
As expected, Kim dragged those gansters to the mountain and the thugs he hired beat them with iron pipes. It was said that Kim was wearing a leather jacket. More than in movies. He might have watched way too many gangster movies.
Common citizens felt vicarious satisfaction. Applause to Kim Seung-youn who got revenge on gangsters… Applause to gangsters who will send the omnipotent chaebol to prison.

On the other hand, Kim's action has been interpreted as the ugly face of the capitalism, as in this post from Gsong's Blog:

언론이 좋아하는 소재들을 모두 갖춘 영양식입니다.

어긋난 부정
음모와 비리
이보다 더 재밌는 소재가 어디 있겠습니까?

김승연 회장은 내노라하는 부자임에도 불구하고, 사회의 기본 원칙들을 무시한 죄가 있습니다. 자기를 그렇게 부자로 만들어 준 것이 이 사회일 텐데 일말의 존중은 커녕 법 위에 군림하는 듯한 태도가 문제였지요.

김승연 회장의 둘째 아들 녀석도 참 웃기네요. 예일대를 다니는 것 같았는데, 그 좋은 대학을 갔으면 열심히 공부나 할 것이지 뭐 한다고 다시 교환학생으로 서울대를 온 건지 모르겠습니다. 교환학생이라는 제도의 취지가 유학간 한국학생들의 향수병을 달래주고자 하는 것은 아니지 않나요? 그 녀석을 받아준 서울대 동양사학과도 참 우습군요.

아무튼 오늘 잠깐 뉴스를 보니 김회장은 어제 출두해서 하루종일 자기는 모른다고 잡아떼다 나온 듯 합니다. 조만간 크든 작든 처벌이 내려질 테고, 그와 동시에 김회장의 몸상태는 급속히 악화되어 전에 없던 당뇨라든지 각종 성인병이 발병해서 병원으로 후송되겠지요. 그리고 몇달 뒤면 아무 일 없었던 듯 다시 회장노릇을 할 겝니다.

This scandal has everything the media loves. Money. Violence. Parents’ erroneous love. Plot and absurdity. Can you find a more interesting topic than this? Even though Kim Seung-Youn is rich enough, he disregarded the basic norm of society. This society made him rich, but he attempted to control the law, not respect it. His son also has a problem. Why did he come back to Seoul National Univeristy even though he has been at a nice school. The exchange student system is not for Korean students abroad to get through their homesickness. Why did the Asian History Department at Seoul National University accept him? Watching the news today, Kim Seung-Youn seemed to pretend he doesn't know anything in court. No matter how big or small it is, the punishment will be on him. And then, after a while he would be sent to a hospital under the pretext of some disease which he has never had before. After several months, he will resume his position without any problem.

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