In 2017, the year that male entitlement memes became mainstream, let’s all stop to witness the moment South Korean politician Kim Moo-sung made the genre his own.
Yesterday, the 65-year-old arrived at Seoul’s Gimpo airport and smoothly pushed his suitcase to a waiting assistant. A clip of the incident has gone viral in South Korea, reigniting a discussion in the country about the abuse of power by middle-aged men.
His casual manoeuvre has been dubbed the “authoritarian no-look pass” by the South Korean media, referencing the basketball move when a player looks in one direction but passes the ball to his target in another.
Naver, South Korea’s largest web portal was buzzing with incredulous comments soon after the video was posted. “This shows… the way he treats his subordinates! How does he act in private if he acts like this in an airport? This is the bare face of the Korean elite!” said one contributor. Over on Reddit, the clip titled ‘Korean Politician Swag’ gathered over 1,700 comments, with one user remarking that, “You can even see the guy bow while walking over to pick up the bag.”
The bratty behaviour of South Korea’s gaejeossi – a mash up of the word for ‘middle-aged man’ with the word ‘dog’ – has been well documented and observers have been quick to point out this is an endemic problem. An abuse of power is known as gapjil and in September 2016 there were 1,289 recorded cases of gapjil in South Korea with men inciting 90 per cent of incidents. Men in their 40s and 50s made up more than half the cases.
Moo-sung responded to reporters' questions about the incident today. He said: “I do not see what the problem is. Reporters should mind their own business or other important news.”
This is not the first time that Moo-sung, who held the post of Saenuri Party leader from 2014 to 2016, has set the internet on fire. In 2015 he told a Nigerian student at a charity event, “The coal briquettes and your face are the same colour.” He later apologised, claiming he did not know the remark could be considered racist. “I had not realized I could be inflicting pain,” he said. “I was just trying to be friendly.”
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