Beat a Drum

Min-Ju Kiml승인2009.07.01l0호

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Last week, I visited Chungwadae in Seoul. Near Chungwadae there is a big drum named Daegogak. During the Kim Young-Sam Administration, they designed it after the model of Sinmoongo. Sinmoongo was made for the nation, but I found it interesting that in front of Daegogak, there was a policeman guarding the drum and preventing people from beating it. It is just an exhibition.

Sinmoongo(a Big Drum) was a part of the system for handling complaints against the government during the Joseon Dynasty. It was the first step for the people to express their opinions on government affairs. In the early years of the Joseon Dynasty the system to help the general public to remedy grievances was needed. In those days the government prohibited the public from being critical of the king. Many people were also imprisoned for leading movements against the government.

Establishing Sinmoongo was also a way to enhance the king's empowerment and help maintain his sovereign powers. At that time, the King could not exercise strict control over the ministers of state, so many ministers could enter the palace with their private soldiers. It was easy to enter the palace, people of all sorts could come in and go out easily. Therefore the government decided to make Simoongo in order to announce the arrival of visitors.

The image of these earlier years are remarkably similar to the current government. The big drum looks good, but the real story shows the true purpose of the sovereign. These days, many people from young to old draw up a declarations of protest to the President Lee's government instead of beating a drum. However, no matter how hard we beat these drums they do not change their policies. They just keep moving on with unpopular policies such as building a canal and changing the broadcasting law to suit their agenda.

The day I visited Chungwadae, there was a calm, peaceful, and quiet feeling. It was just chance that in front of City Hall a gathering was being held. If we want to change the world we have to beat the drum even louder.


Min-Ju Kim  voguekim@ynu.ac.kr
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