Tom Coyner's Insightful analysis of such ageing leftists as Kim Ki-jong . . .
Tom Coyner, writing for the Korea JoongAng Daily, has penned an insightful column, "You can almost see them coming" (March 11, 2015), about the kind of man who attacked the US ambassador. I provide a summary composed of excerpts:
The recent knife attack on U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert . . . [was by one of] many [Korean] lone wolves . . . created . . . [through] historical, social and political factors, [for the a]ssailant Kim Ki-jong was . . . a walking stereotype of his generation of leftist radicals. He comes from the oldest fringe of [those] . . . [who] spent their youth . . . successfully demonstrating for genuine democracy . . . [in] South Korea. But their success carried costs, . . . . [for] many . . . from this group were eventually granted university degrees . . . [without] really study[ing] . . . credible sources . . . . [T]heir ideology-weighted ad hoc studies can be attributed to . . . . political material [that] often consisted of circulated mimeographed papers of questionable origins and doubtful intellectual honesty . . . . [Because] classrooms under censorship were devoid of honest, structured discussion and debates, this generation often uncritically accepted anything . . . banned as . . . the truth . . . [I]n fact much of it was propaganda, some of it originating from [North Korea] . . . . [M]uch of the [anti-establishment, uncritical] thinking that plagues Korean public opinion . . . can be traced to . . . . [a substantial number of] this generation of demonstrators . . . [who were] initially unwilling and . . . [are] now unable to move out of the narrow constraints of being dedicated political activists . . . . [Individuals who] . . . take a high profile position and later reverse [themselves are few]. Asian societies are too tight-knit to allow people to do political U-turns . . . . [P]olitical activists . . . start out and . . . remain part of political groups where . . . recant[ing] one's perspective [is treasonous] . . . . [Recanting] damages the integrity of the in-group that has fostered and supported the activist . . . . [This intransigence of the] activist is reinforced by a society that doesn't forget and by a small circle that doesn't forgive . . . . [T]hese individuals . . . [thus] forge ahead, often in extreme directions, as part of their intellectual and political growth . . . . [and] take on some kind of idealistic martyr-like identity as they live in near poverty . . . . [M]ost of these proletarian activists come from rather bourgeois . . . families, . . . [but] after expending their inheritances and relatives' support, . . . [they must] establish some kind of political group that acts as a financial support mechanism for . . . their daily expenses. To attract followers and financial subscribers, ageing activists must develop a charismatic agenda . . . . [since] agendas for moderation and accommodation do not attract dues-paying members . . . . [In] late middle age, [these activists] . . . often reach a state of pathos. They . . . find that their circles of friends have shrunk largely to just some other old . . . diehards plus perhaps gullible young people who make up an unstable . . . group [of] followers . . . . [These] graying activists have largely alienated their families, [and] . . . are usually single, . . . without children . . . . [T]hey are truly alone and almost isolated outside of contrived political events.Kim Ki-jong's slashing of Ambassador Lippert's face and left hand was just such a contrived political event. I have nothing to add to Coyner's persuasive analysis, but if you are interested in his suggestions on how to deal with this problem, you should click onto his article.