Now that Oh Se-hoon has failed to reach the minimum quorum needed to overturn the DP’s signature we-love-all-people-and-they-will-love-us-with-votes policy issue of free kimchi for all, the sharks in DP are pouncing, demanding that he keeps his word and resigns. It’s safe to say that he won’t step-down until after the September by-elections which will help dim the pain the the GNP might feel otherwise. Pairing it with the Presidential election is a smarter move.
The entire issue of the free school lunch policy has been baffling. Take this cartoon from Hankyoreh for instance.
A man pulls up in a Mercedes with a license plate indicating he is from the wealthy conservative Gangnam District and says, “As our country is almost broke due to my tax breaks, you had better pay for you lunch,” rejecting the free school lunch program.
Apparently, Gangnam voters turned out in droves to vote down the free school lunch measure. Hankyoreh makes the claim that rich people didn’t want their tax breaks to be offset by this policy. That’s true. They didn’t want their tax money to fund this policy.
The problem with the claim in the cartoon is that it’s an outright lie.
First of all, Hankyoreh and the DP clearly misrepresented Oh Se-hoon’s position in their thirst to crush the GNP in the upcoming election cycle. He agreed to raise the percentage of students receiving free lunches from 35% to 50%. DP wanted 100% with no income differentiation. Now that they have gotten their way, they must own their claim that students will no longer have the ammunition to be able to discriminate upon one another based on income levels.
That, of course, won’t happen. Korea’s rapid economic rise puts great importance on wealth and status and kids learn that from their parents. Hell, even the Hankyoreh identifies where the wealth is (강남) a free lunch scam isn’t going to erase that reality.
Furthermore, there are many other indicators of wealth that children pick up on and while school lunches might be one of them, it’s certainly not the biggest one. Cram schools, or rather, the amount of cram schools that kids attend generally hint at the family income level.
And now that DP has given free lunches to all, those rich Gangnam parents will be able to send their kids to one more cram school thus widening the gap between the rich and poor.
Good move, DP. Next time leave the empty populism out of policy debates.