Korea's "Justice Trap" (Korea Times, June 18, 2014)


Harvard University Professor Michael Sandel was so popular during his trip to Korea in 2012 that I'm surprised he didn't apply for Korean citizenship before he departed.
By Casey Lartigue, Jr. 

He threw out the first pitch at a baseball game, pow-wowed with Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and spoke to an overflow crowd of 15,000 at Yonsei University's open-air theater. Oh, and he had already reportedly sold more than 1 million copies of his book "Justice: What's the Right Thing to do?" in Korea in the lead-up to the trip.

Why was his book on philosophy so popular? My main guess: He tapped into what Professor David R. Henderson calls the "justice trap."

An associate professor of economics at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., Henderson recently wrote, "Years ago, I came to the conclusion that seeking justice is usually not worthwhile no matter how unjustly you think you were treated. It can take your energy and take you away from achieving your other goals." Henderson suggests we should learn from the way professional athletes quickly get over a bad call from a referee. They move on, rather than falling into the trap of searching for justice.

He cites a discussion he had with Walter Oi, who lived in a horse stall at the Santa-Anita Racetrack during World War II when the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration locked up Japanese-Americans in internment camps. Four decades later, Oi expressed opposition to the Reagan Administration giving compensation to Japanese-Americans. Oi said that yes, Japanese-Americans like himself were treated unjustly, but that the best thing for them was to move on and not create a new government program. That is, to use Henderson's phrase, not to get caught up in the Justice Trap.

I suspect that Koreans will ignore the sports analogy and the Japanese-American case. Move on from Japanese colonization? Forgive past atrocities? Until there is justice in the form of a list of demands fulfilled (direct compensation to victims, state-level apologies similar to Germany's to Jews, history books rewritten), then Japan can never be forgiven.

Lee Chang-sup, executive managing editor of The Korea Times, quotes Marshall Goldsmith, the author of "What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful," as saying that apology is the most powerful tool in human relations. "Expressing regret, or apologizing is a cleansing ritual," that can make you feel better. Lee quotes Goldsmith as saying the difference between successful and less successful nations and people is the ability to say "I'm sorry" and "Thank you."

Accepting that as true, my questions: 1) What if the recipient of an apology is caught up in a Justice Trap? Does Goldsmith say that successful nations and people accept apologies?
 Japan has offered apologies over the decades that Koreans have dismissed as not being "genuine." 2) Lee adds that Koreans hate to give apologies because they ''lose face." If true, then what are they doing when they refuse to accept apologies?

Based on my observation, if a Justice Trap did not exist, Koreans would create one. There is an endless desire to fix history, to make things fair today. Accepting that Korea has always been the victim, never the victimizer, and that it is innocent and deserving of apologies and justice, it seems that apologies are not easily accepted.

Looking at news reports of Korean politicians, celebrities, athletes and others apologizing with their heads bowed and handcuffs on their wrists, promising to donate the money they stole or to live better lives, apologies are rarely accepted as genuine by Koreans except when they are announced in a suicide note. I've heard some Koreans ask why can't the Japanese be more like the Germans when it comes to apologizing, but perhaps Koreans are not like Jews when it comes to accepting apologies?

I recently encountered one of the former members of the group that advocates for Korean comfort women, she was proud that her organization 
had blocked the Japanese government's Asian Woman's Fund from providing payments to the Korean comfort women during the 1990s.When the issue is justice, then other options ― such as raising money locally to support the comfort women ― are ignored by people living in a Justice Trap. The advocates for the comfort women ― perhaps the women themselves ― are caught up in a Justice Trap, determined to fight for proper apologies until the last comfort woman passes away. And even more after that, apparently.

Professor Sandel didn't set the Justice Trap. He is a philosophy professor who does what philosophy professors do ― ask a bunch of questions without providing answers. Korea just happens to be a perfect case because it is a country ready to make a bed for itself in the Justice Trap, with him coming along to tuck them in.

The writer is the 
Director for Iinternational Relations at Freedom Factory Co. Ltd. in Seoul and the Asia Outreach Fellow with the Atlas Network in Washington, D.C. He can be reached atcjl@post.harvard.edu. 

That's me pictured with Harvard University Prof Michael Sandel, a generous guy who gladly took a photo with me even though I criticized him.


`Think About It" (Korea Times, June 3, 2014)

Think About It" (Korea Times, June 3, 2014)

Casey Lartigue
트위터 페이스북 미투데이
By Casey Lartigue, Jr. 
I recently received an email inviting me to contribute to a special issue of the Journal of School Choice in honor of one of my former mentors.

I had read his writing for years before I met him for the first time. I was speaking at an event in Washington, D.C. in 2002 when an elderly 
man approached me. It was Myron Lieberman. He was already in his 80s. He made it clear that I was making logical points but he also strongly criticized me.

I now regret I never told him that I was using his articles and books as talking points back when I was a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. At another speech, I referenced Mr. Lieberman, but he later gently took my argument apart. He was holding onto me as he was gently berating me.

He would always compliment me, figuratively feeding me medicine wrapped in candy, before also reminding me that I could do much more to make stronger arguments.

As I reflect on Myron Lieberman today, I know that I was one of his failed projects and proteges. He advised me, sharpened my arguments and had numerous suggestions for me, but we never quite connected. He called me one day and said we had to meet. I never asked him why. If he asked to meet, I would do it.

Over lunch, he insisted that I should run for the school board in Fairfax County, even as he criticized me. He offered to finance my campaign. He concluded by telling me: “Think about it.”

I was humbled, but I didn’t need to think about it. I knew I was an advocate, not a school board member.

Out of the blue, he asked me to critique a chapter in his new book, as he criticized me and my colleagues. He ended the email: “Think about it.”

Despite his punch in the ribs to start most discussions, I was delighted. I read that chapter back and forth about 15 times. I sent him 14 points full of analysis and questions criticizing the chapter. I was laughing out loud at the thought of the student criticizing the teacher. I had learned there was nothing I could say that surprised him.

I waited for him to rip my points. He complimented me: “Good work. I will use some of the points you make.” I didn’t believe him. He gave me some advice about my career, then concluded: “Think about it.”

I realized his “think about it” was based on decades of experience as a union leader, educator and consultant to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund during the 1950s.
He wanted to know if I would be willing to endorse his book by writing a blurb for the back cover. I was honored, but it was my turn to seek clarity. I would tell Mr. Lieberman that his push for for-profit education wasn’t realistic. He wasn’t happy about it, but he seemed pleased that I stuck to my guns even though he was telling me that I was wrong.

He had seen me blossom, with both joy and bitterness. During 2002-06, I played a prominent role in helping to get the Opportunity Scholarship Program passed and implemented. Through it all, Mr. Lieberman was telling me that I was wrong to create a school voucher program designed for low-income children. Voucher programs needed to be universal, the default in education needed to be for-profit.

He continued to insist I was wrong and a political victory didn’t dissuade him. He knew he was right. We didn’t talk about it much after that. Still, he remained a fan of mine, reminding me that I was making progress, but headed in the wrong direction at times. I was being heard but for the wrong reasons.

When I landed a political talk show on XM Radio, he praised me, without reservation. He said I could have the audience he never had. He gave me more advice, then suggested: “Keep a good record of your experience.” I waited for his “but” point, but it never came.

Our last discussion was about a trip he was considering to South Korea. A South Korean citizen who had come across his writings later became his intern. Mr. Lieberman was delighted, telling me, “Perhaps I have a little visibility there.” I had been encouraging him to start writing a regular column again, but he said his time had come and gone. I wish I had thought to tell him that many years before his writings had influenced me at a moment I was seeking clarity. I wish I would have concluded the conversation by telling him: “Think about it.” 

The writer is the director of international relations at Freedom Factory Co. in Seoul and the Asia Outreach Fellow with the Atlas Network in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at cjl@post.harvard.edu. 

최근에 나는 옛 스승으로부터 Journal of School Choice 의 특별호에 기고해줄 것을 요청하는 이메일을 받았다. 

나는 그를 처음 만나기 몇 해 전부터 그의 글들을 읽고 있었다. 연세가 드신 어르신이 나에게 접근해 왔을 때 나는 2002년 워싱턴 디씨에서 개최된 한 행사에서 연설을 하는 중이었다. 그가 당시에 이미 80 대에 접어들었던 Myron Lieberman 이었다. 그는 내가 타당한 주장을 하고 있음을 명확히 했지만, 나를 거세게 비판했다.  

하버드 교육대학원에 재적하던 시절, 내가 그의 기사와 책을 화두로 삼곤 했다는 것을 그에게 전달하지 않았던 것이 요즘들어 후회로 남는다. 나는 다른 연설에서 Mr. Lieberman 을 언급했는데, 그는 후에 나의 주장을 가뿐히 분해했다. 그는 나를 가뿐히 이기면서 나를 붙들고 있었다. 

그는 내가 더욱 강한 주장을 내세우기 위해 훨씬 더 많은 것을 할 수 있다는 점을 명확히 하기에 앞서 언제나 나를, 마치 사탕 껍질에 쌓인 약을 먹이듯이, 칭찬하곤 했다. 

오늘 Myron Lieberman 에 대해서 회고하면서 나는 내가 그의 실패한 기획이었고 제자였음을 알고 있다. 그는 나에게 조언을 건넸고, 나의 주장을 날카롭게 다듬어 주었으며, 나와 수많은 의견을 교환했지만 우리는 완벽히 통하지는 못 했다. 어느 날 그는 나에게 만나자며 전화를 걸어 왔고, 나는 이유를 묻지 않았다. 그가 나를 만나고자 한다면, 나는 만날 것이었으니까.  

점심을 먹으면서, 그는 나를 비판하면서도 내가 페어팩스 카운티에 있는 교육 위원회 선거에 출마할 것을 제안했다. 나의 선거 캠페인을 후원하겠다고 했다. 그는 나와의 대화를 마무리하면서 말했다. 잘 생각해 봐.”

그의 제안은 영광스러운 것이었지만, 생각해 볼 필요는 없었다. 나는 내가 교육위원회의 위원보다는 지지자에 가까운 사람이라는 것을 알고 있었다. 

그는 난데없이 그가 나와 나의 동료들을 비판했듯이, 내가 그의 새로운 책의 한 부분을 비평해줄 것을 요청했다. 그가 보낸 이메일의 말미에는 이렇게 적혀 있었다. 잘 생각해 봐.” 

이렇듯 그는 대부분의 논의를 시작할 때 옆구리를 가격하는 듯한 태도를 취하곤 했지만, 나는 매우 기뻤다. 나는 그가 부탁한 부분을 앞뒤로 15번 정도 정독했다. 그리고 14개의 요점을 정리한 분석과 해당 부분을 논평하는 질문들을 보냈다. 제자가 스승을 비판하는 장면을 상상하니 웃음이 났다. 나는 내가 그를 놀라게 할 만한 말을 할 수 없다는 것을 진즉 배웠다. 

나는 그가 나의 제안을 까뭉개기를 기다리고 있었다. 의외로, 그는 나를 칭찬했다. 잘 했어. 자네가 제안한 것을 일부 잘 활용하도록 하지.” 믿을 수 없었다. 그는 나의 경력에 대한 조언을 건네곤 마무리를 지었다. 잘 생각해 봐.” 

나는 잘 생각해 봐 라는 그의 말이 그가 몇 십년 동안 노조 지도부, 교육인, 그리고 1950년대 NAACP Legal Defense Fund의 컨설턴트로서 쌓아온  경험에서 기인했다는 것을 깨달았다. 

그는 내가 그의 책 뒤 표지에 실릴 안내문을 씀으로써 그의 책을 지지해 줄 의사가 있는지 알고 싶어했다. 영광스러운 제안이었지만, 이번엔 내가 명확하게 할 차례였다. 나는 영리 목적의 교육을 추구하는 그의 계획이 현실적이지 않다고 말해 줄 것이었다. 그는 나의 권고를 좋아하지 않았지만, 내가 틀렸다는 지적에도 불구하고 굽히지 않은 것은 즐겁게 받아들인 것 같았다. 

그는 내가 쓴맛 단맛 다 보며 꽃피우는 과정을 지켜 보았다. 2002년에서 2006년까지, 나는 기회 장학금 프로그램 (Opportunity Scholarship Program) 을 통과시키고 시행하는 데에 중대한 역할을 담당했다. 그 모든 과정이 진행되는 동안 Mr. Lieberman 은 저소득 가정 어린이들을 위해 교육 자유수강권 제도를 운영하고자 했던 나의 계획이 틀렸다고 했다. 자유수강권 제도는 보편적이어야 하는데, 교육은 기본적으로 영리를 목적으로 해야 한다고 했다. 

그는 내가 틀렸다고 꾸준히 주장했고, 정치적 승리마저도 그를 단념하게 하지 못 했다. 그러나 그는 그가 옳다는 것을 알고 있었다. 그 후로 우리는 이 사안에 대해 별로 이야기하지 않았지만, 그는 나의 지지자로 남았고, 내가 진보하고 있음을 상기시켜 주었으며, 때때로 내가 잘못된 방향으로 향하고 있다고 지적해 주기도 했다. 나의 의견은 잘못된 이유로 받아 들여지고 있었다. 

내가 XM 라디오 방송의 정치 토크쇼에 채용되었을 때 그는 한 치의 망설임도  없이 나를 칭찬했다. 그는 내가 그에게는 없었던 청중으로부터 호응을 얻을 수 있을 것이라고 했다. 그는 나에게 더 많은 조언을 건네면서 제안했다. 자네의 경험에 대해서 잘 기록해 두게.” 나는 그가 그런데 말이야…” 로 나아가기를 기다렸지만, 그는 그러지 않았다. 

우리가 마지막으로 상의한 것은 그의 한국행에 대해서였다.  그의 글들을 접했던 한 한국 시민은 후에 그의 인턴이 되었다. Mr. Lieberman 은 내가 한국에서 조금은 통하나 보네,” 라며 이 사실에 대해 매우 즐거워 했다. 당시 나는 그가 주기적으로 칼럼을 쓸 것을 권유하고 있었지만, 그는 그의 시기가 왔었지만 이미 지났다고 말했다. 수년 전 내가 명확성을 모색할 당시 그의 글들로부터 지대한 영향을 받았다고 말해줄 것을 그랬다. 나는 그와의 대화를 이렇게 끝냈어야 했다. 잘 생각해 보세요.”