Is There Only One Acceptable Form of Society?

A Soompi member responds to the Inchon Business Article: If It’s Love, Then Even Phone Tapping is OK?  My Ajusshi Should Have Been Rated Age 19 by arguing that no one gets to dictate the way a society takes form.

by @tiger457_stv

The writer of the article who agrees that My Ajusshi is a great tale but then compares it to an addiction and to being pick-pocketed by con-men steers the audience to accept what is not right for society.  She names (mentions) Ajusshi-young girl relationship, crimes from fighting to clannishness to modern phone tap, and patriarchy-centric notion of duty and self sacrifice.

In effect many of the things that have been seen as virtues for millennia are not right in the new millennium.

1) As has been pointed out by Soompi members, in previous centuries, it was not unusual for a young girl to be married to a rich ajusshi, if it helps the girl’s family in advancing their wealth or prestige….the opinion of the girl was immaterial…and if she runs away, she will be brought back to her new family.  Her lot in life is to endure the embrace of an old man, and bear him a son if she can… that would bring even more prestige and wealth to her family.

In Lee Ji An case, it is she who pursues the scrupulous ajusshi, who tries as hard as he can to avoid their wonderful relationship from becoming an intimate relation.  As modern civilized human, we all have our will,  and  have the ability to speak our mind  and form our own decisions… if we choose to do so.  Since Ji An likes Ajusshi, like @justamom quote of Ji An:  Why is liking someone a dirty word?

That is the concept of modern society isn’t it?  Isn’t it based upon free choice?

2) Clannishness is a concept that is as ancient as there is human.  Before there is a state or a nation or an empire, there was the family and extended family and the clan.  It helps us human survive the bitter winter, the flood, the famine which as individual, many of us wouldn’t survive.  It helps us survive warfare, and protects us from the urges of others to rob us of our own livelihood.  It is a small town concept which many city dwellers throughout the world looks down on. Why do I need to know my neighbor, don’t I have the state, the judicial system and the police to protect me.? I am a civilized educated person, why should I live like a bunch of cavemen from the past, fighting drinking?

This reader says that having a small town mentality is not necessarily bad, especially in natural disaster.  The case of what happened with the Tsunami and nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan is a good example.  it is the small town friendship which allows many of the survivors to live by collectively help and share with the less fortunate ones, what ever meager supply that one have.  This was reciprocated by the less fortunate, as repayment for the kindness of the others.  Those who espouse to individualism will find that they can drown or die of hunger or wound long before the state can come to help them….   this concept also applies to poorer communities where neighbors share, help and fight for each other by necessity.  In many poor dysfunctional neighborhoods, the police drives by once or twice per night, and if there is gunfire, killing, violence, then IT’S TOO BAD!…. Where is the justice in inner city North America when some youngster got shot by a drive by gang member?  The reason these lawlessness exist in the inner city is because the people living there espouse the modern concept of reliance on the state fore everything…from their sustenance to their domicile.  If those communities would have the mentality of THE GANG/CLAN as in My Ajusshi, justice would be swift and the offending pick-pocketer or thief would remember not come there again…once they get out of the hospital!  This reader sees nothing wrong with the action of THE GANG.  They protect and support each other, and as long as what they do is not excessive (i.e. they don’t commit murder or protect illicit activities like those communities in Mexico who protect the drug traffickers because they are from their towns),  is some thing laudable.

2a)  The wire tapping crime that Ji An committed did not go unpunished.  She, with advice from Ajusshi and Lawyer wife, confessed her crime and was punished by the Law.  She, recognizing her grave mistake, apologized ten times on her knees and repented.   What more can that article writer wants from her?  That she should kill herself for her crime?

3)  Self sacrifice especially from the standpoint of a modern woman toward her spouse family was raised as the 3rd and horrible monster by the article writer.   In her opinion, Ajusshi got all the benefit and none of the harm, while his wife was depicted as an irredeemable monster!  That is not true.  It is clearly seen in the tale that Lawyer made terrible mistakes which she tried very hard to amend, but what she had was an unworkable marriage where both sides just coexist, each travelling a parallel path but not together.  The writer is disgusted with the three brothers who never cut tie with each other, living always attached by their umbilical cords to mother and to their extended clan.

This reader can only say that some people do live that way, while others don’t.  There is neither right nor wrong in this matter.  Those who wish to marry into such family must realize and accept that, or the marriage will fail… like between Engineer and Lawyer.  On the other hand Ji An would not have any problem adapting into such society.  In fact she would fit in perfectly and be happy!  In the soccer match at the end of the funeral scene, one can see three women dressed in black who obviously had no problem seeing their men showing their manhood on the soccer field.  In fact (except for ji-an who was mourning), they truly relish this spectacle and empathize thoroughly with their men!

In conclusion, the article writer has many angst about what she wants society to be like… her version!  Society, like any society is complex and diverse with many different opinions and norms.  Who is to say that one person’s norm which is different from other,  is better or worse than another’s norm.

Whether a culture thinks it is good etiquette to slurp their soup and belch, or not, depends on that culture…. What really matter is whether a person is good or has intention of harming other… that is the whole point.

P.S.:  The only JUSTICE that Ji An got in her entire life, was through AJUSSHI’S FIST! Not the court, not the justice system, not the police.  Justice for the middle and upper class is via their lawyers and state apparatus.  For the down-trodden who cannot afford a lawyer, justice is the left over that society throws to the poor, like the bone to a dog, unless the dog happens to be lucky and has a kind master.  My Ajusshi clearly points this out.


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