I Believe The World Can Change

by Lee Yong-ma

A reality without ideals is like the present without the future;
Choose the future. Change is necessary.
Read about South Korea, understand Taiwan!

The documentary Criminal Conspiracy (2017), produced by South Korea’s independent news outlet Newstapa, focused on the protests of the reporters from South Korea’s two main news stations. At the end of the film, the author Lee Yong-ma, who had protested along with his fellow reporters, was asked about the meaning of the movement. He replied, “In times of darkness, I did not choose silence. That is the meaning.” The book also mentions that when someone asked him why he did not quit the union, he answered, “I have never lived that way…”

When the South Korean president Lee Myung-bak and his successor Park Geun-hye used their political authority to manipulate the news, the reporters of the public television stations KBS and MBC fought for the freedom of the press. While the reporters had their union to fall back on, the price they paid for this resistance was nearly a decade of time, and for some, futures in journalism. It was not until December 2017 that the union and the protests finally achieved victory, and all reporters were reinstated.

In 2012, when Lee Yong-ma was the then publicity director of the MBC reporters union, he along with other members of the union, organized a 170-day strike, which led to the termination of his job as a reporter. He was then diagnosed with terminal peritoneal cancer. Despite the severity of his illness, Lee Yong-ma’s hope for the future was not distinguished. As he battled the disease, he decided to write this book for his twin sons.

In this book, Lee Yong-ma describes the world he has lived through, and the future the world should embrace. South Korea’s contemporary history is told as he experienced it, including the democratization movements. Nearly twenty years of reporting experience allows him to integrate knowledge from past interviews in the the fields of economics, culture, diplomacy, justice, politics, and more, to analyze the flaws of South Korean society and media. To readers, Lee Yong-ma leaves the message: In order for the next generation to live a fulfilling social life that is equal and free, South Koreans must stand together. Lee Yong-ma strongly believes “the world can change,” and change for the better!

For Taiwan, whose history shares many similar trajectories with South Korea, the history and societal struggles that the author witnessed as well as his unbreakable resolve and persistent passion to create change with his own hands, presents a mirror for the Taiwanese to reflect on their current society, and think about how to change their world.

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