This morning, I met an extremely invaluable person: Michael Sandel. We walked across Seoul Plaza towards City Hall after eating breakfast together and spent some time conversing. In the middle of Seoul Plaza, I met a university student staying in a tent as well as a labor due to the dismissal from Ssangyong Motor.
It’s as if his book, What Money Can’t Buy, had been written specifically for Koreans. It’s a book connected with philosophy, and completely shatters lofty, abstract, and unrealistic preconceptions, leading a discussion exposing and discussing the realistic and fundamental problems that we are faced with. There is also another reason why millions of copies have been sold on Korean soil.
The reason has to do with the rage connected with injustice, and a longing connected with justice: a concept deeply connected to our country. The book talks about a place where cutting in front of others is the most rampant… that’s our society. Korea is a place where nothing is impossible if you have money. Even working as a lawyer, I realized that this country is a place where black can be made white, and white, black. Prisons are full of tales of woes relating to ‘one law for the rich, and one law for the poor’.
He especially talked a great amount about the function of a mayor. He said that all things are subject to trade, and if things are available for monetary exchange, then the rich have a monopoly on everything. After all, this damages other values of social and public interests. Our society had a period where it succeeded in rapid economic growth, but it saw the collapse of lower-class capitalism and constitutionalism and the demise of social trust, giving birth to such serious side effects as materialism, and impartiality, with justice becoming hard to find.
Nevertheless, from observing the audience who gathered together to listen to Professor Michael Sandel’s lecture and the animated debates, I made the evaluation that Korean society is one of great potential. That’s right. Our road towards a righteous society is a long one, but I have hope that the members of our society who have woken up, and have a thirst for righteousness, is not minimal. As mayor of Seoul, I will do my best to protect the precious value of ‘What Money Can’t Buy’.