Saturday, April 14, 2018

Changes in the Constitution of Korea

In the Eye of the Believer's column of the Catholic Times, a lawyer asks the readers since I bought some land on which a magnolia tree grows, does the tree belong to me?  

He begins the article reminiscing about his childhood of 50 years ago. Everyone who lived in a two-story house was rich. He had kimchi, small fish and tempura side dishes, but the friend from the two-story house had a sausage in his lunch box. Even though we were not rich all the houses had a little flower garden that bloomed with their seasonal flowers.

At in the evening we would go to the alley and play hide and seek, tag, and sing. Compared to the average income of those days we have increased it hundreds of times. The alley playground, the flower gardens, and the singing have all disappeared. Instead of the flower garden, we wanted to extend the house, and instead of singing myself I go to watch the singing and dancing of others.This is all because of money. Capitalism has eaten away at the flower beds, the songs, and the games.

A discussion is in full swing to revise the constitution. What has that to do with me? Many have these thoughts running through their heads. In Korean, we hear often a person is such that he can live without laws. Yes, there are many such people. Law does not only deal, however, with criminal offenses but also helps us to live a fuller life. Law determines a great deal of the way we live.

When you make a law to redevelop the neighborhood the benefits should go to all the inhabitants who pay the taxes. Whether the minimum wage is 5,000 won or 10,000 won the concern of the workers and the employers are different. Whether large co-operations will be able to make a fish cake or tofu and sell them and regulations of store hours for department stores, means a great deal to the merchants within that community.

The constitution is the basis for the laws of the country that coordinates the many interests of the people. The Constitution is our life and needed to protect all the citizens. One of the disputed points is the possession of land: those who hold for the absolute ownership of land. In Korea up until the Chosen dynasty land was own by the country. This is the way it is in China we build on the land and have the right to its use, to live and build on it.

The Second Vatican Council section 69  of the Pastoral Constitution answers: "God intended the earth and all that it contains for the use of every human being and people. Thus, as all men follow justice and unite in charity, created goods should abound for them on a reasonable basis." Also, we have in the same paragraph: "In using them, therefore, a man should regard his lawful possessions not merely as his own but also as common property in the sense that they should accrue to the benefit of not only himself but of others."

This kind of talk is often hard to accept and this is also true of Christians. This land and its magnificence, registered in my name, is mine within the limits of the common good. We should be happy to see a change that will benefit everyone.

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