In times of national tragedy, there are always those who seek to exploit public fear and insecurity to achieve goals that are not readily apparent. As some in Korea have made comparisons between America’s horrific 9/11 tragedy and the loss of Korea’s precious national landmark, it behooves all who clamor for greater government protection ― possibly at the expense of civil liberties and due process ― to review how one fiery event changed history forever: the Reichstag Fire of 1933.
As in Seoul, a barely coherent man with a checkered past wandered the streets of the German capital with a grudge against the system and allegedly set fire to a beautiful historic structure to seek revenge. An ambitious right-of-center politician promising sweeping changes to revive the battered economy and wounded national pride saw an opportunity and made his move (launching Nazi Germany). It may be wisefor Koreans to review the circumstances of the tragic Reichstag fire for its eerie similarity to the loss of the precious Sungnyemun, for how the desire to avenge such a senseless crime may be exploited by the powerful for unforeseen ends.
For those keeping score at home, we've had 9/11, Katrina, Auschwitz, Cambodia, and Ground Zero. I've got five bucks riding on the progression leading next to Fort Sumter.