Rhyu Si-min, the very person to listen to

Rhyu Si-min, the perhaps potential presidential candidate from the liberal circle at this very moment in Korea, on Jan. 7 announced that he will not be seeking for the political power.

My father called that a hoax.


Rhyu Si-min  (Credit: Hankyoreh)


I have great affection for Rhyu and I tried to resist. But then dad used that card. “Even if he doesn’t want to, his friends, allies – whatever you call them – will eventually drag him,” he said.

And maybe dad’s right.

Rhyu is one of the hottest guys of the moment. And he’s got the credentials. Politicians will be nothing but fools to let go of him.

Let’s see: Rhyu, born in 1959, is no new to politics. He was one of the “resistances” during the 1980s against the authoritarian (some would say military junta) government. He made headlines by writing his own letter of appeal (grounds of appeal) to the judges instead of his attorneys. With the level of eloquence so high, the letter is regarded a masterpiece, something that has been passed down to the next generation, and made him a star. He studied social welfare in Germany, returned to Korea, emceed a TV debate program and suddenly became a lawmaker.

On his first day, instead of dressing up, he showed up in a casual white pants and a no-tie blazer, which induced his opponents to bombard him with criticisms. He refused to make the pledge of allegiance which fueled the criticisms. But then-President Roh Moo-hyun appointed him as the Health and Welfare Minister.

I happened to work as a journalist covering the Health Ministry in 2007, right after he stepped down – Rhyu resigned after a journalist ambushed him and asked him about the upcoming election , which is a violation of civil servants’ obligation to stay on the fence about political agendas. And everyone in the Ministry, regardless of their possible political preference, told me that he was true genius. “If we bring him a report, he would understand what everything we would say. And he would come up with a direction that suited us all,” they would say.

And then, he swamped himself in the world of liberal – or some in Korea would said socialist – circle, made some unsuccessful bids to become big, even President.

And in 2013, he declared his retirement from the political arena.

Since then he has been a best-selling author: I keep all of his books. Some are hard and some are just great. In fact my first encounter with him was a book had digested the world history for teenagers.

He hosted several podcasts, TV shows  — one is high-flying gig where he and some folks wander around the country and talk about literally anything that come out of his mind. He took the job as the director of board of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation.

Then last week, he said he would be hosting YouTube show, “Allilleo (pun for Gallileo, the greatest scientist of all time and at the same time the mysterious guy cameoing for the Bohemian Rhapsody)” analyzing current issues from his own perspective.

And he released another news saying he will host another YouTube show, “Gochilleo (synthetic terms of Galligeo and Gochida (rectify),” to set the record straight about Roh Moo-hyun, after struggling against “fake news.”

So now, tell me. Do you think his next move is going back to the political scene? Rhyu said he and his family will forever suffer from becoming the target of abuse, which are the grounds of his never returning to the political scene. In fact, he now looks happy, laid back, a stark contrast from the sharp and anxious man that used to hate all his opponents.

So I would tell dad: Just leave him alone. When it is time, he will let us know.  Instead, watch his YouTube and listen to what he has got to say.


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