“ “Isn’t it about 1,000 won?” “
This is the answer given by Prime Minister Han Deok-soo when Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Soo-jin asked, “Do you know how much the basic taxi fare is?” at the National Assembly’s Budget and Accounts Special Committee on August 30. There was a sigh in the hall at the answer that was completely different from the actual fare, which was 4,800 won in Seoul. When asked about the city bus fare, Prime Minister Han said, “2,000 won…” ” he said vaguely. Seoul city bus fares rose from 1,200 won to 1,500 won on the 12th.
Prime Minister Han later asked for understanding when asking questions from other lawmakers and said, “The reason I talked about the 1,000 won taxi fare was because it reflected my concerns after hearing many reports about the (taxi fare) increase this time, so I was a bit mistaken. “It’s the same,” he explained. Even the ‘meticulous Prime Minister’, who ordered the jamboree members to “not put bananas in their lunch boxes” for fear of slipping, seemed unable to avoid the trap of asking questions about public transportation.
For politicians and bureaucrats who mainly travel by official vehicle, the transportation fare question is a ‘killer question.’ During the Moon Jae-in administration, former Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Byeon Chang-heum drew criticism by saying that taxi fares were “usually 1,200 won” in his first question to the government at the National Assembly in February 2021. He tried to make amends by saying, “I (pay) with a card,” but could no longer make excuses after being reprimanded by People Power Party lawmaker Kim Hee-guk, who asked, “Does the minister in charge of transportation policy not even know the basic fare for public transportation?”
2012 Saenuri Party presidential primary TVAt the debate, when asked by the moderator about the cost of buses in Seoul, the candidates shouted “Pass, pass” (Kim Tae-ho) or안전놀이터 gave incorrect answers such as “900 won” (Lim Tae-hee). At that time, the basic card fare for Seoul city buses was 1,050 won. Former Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon confidently explained in a broadcast in 2018 that the subway fare in Seoul was “1,250 won, but if you swipe a transportation card, it’s 1,150 won,” but the basic fare at the time was 1,250 won based on a transportation card.The origin of the transportation cost gaffe is former Grand National Party leader Chung Mong-joon’s statement that “the bus fare is 70 won.” This comment, made during a TV debate at the national convention in June 2008, followed him as a tag throughout his political life. A month later, at the July National Convention, he said, “I am very sorry that I do not know the price of the bus. Afterwards, he apologized, saying, “A party member gave me this T-money card,” but he made people laugh again by holding up a youth card. In the 2014 Seoul mayoral election, which was his last political move, he ultimately lost when asked by a reporter, “How many times have you taken the subway?” by answering, “I rode lines 1 to 3 for two hours, and the air is very bad.”
If the previous cases were of the ‘lack of memorization’ type, there are also cases where ignorance was naturally revealed while trying to experience the common people. There was an incident in January 2020 when former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon was denied boarding the subway at Dongdaemun Station because he placed his transportation card on the left side of the ticket gate rather than the right terminal. After swiping the boarding completion card five times with a puzzled expression, he entered the door next to the boarding gate with help from those around him.
Regarding this, Lee Jun-seok, former representative of the People Power Party, who was a member of the New Conservative Party at the time, commented, “In addition to the Western table culture of placing bread on the left and water on the right, transportation cards are on the right.” There was criticism in the political world, saying, “He is 67 years old and can ride the subway for free, but he went out of his way to use a transit card to cosplay as a commoner.”Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who returned to Korea about two months before the 2017 presidential election, declared his determination to “burrow into the people” and ambitiously headed to the airport railroad, but controversy arose when he put two 10,000 won bills into the cash slot of the vending machine. . Afterwards, former Secretary-General Ban, who continued to struggle with public sentiment, declared that he was giving up the presidency after 20 days, putting an end to the ‘Ban Ki-moon trend’.