How Healthy Korea's Democracy Is?
How Healthy Korea's Democracy Is?
  • 이종환 기자
  • 승인 2022.07.10 15:55
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By Lee Jong-hwan

(The Publisher of the World Korean News)

Seoul, July 10 (World Korean News)= Why was Socrates poisoned? Why did Athens sentence him to death, and why did he not escape from prison, but willingly accept death?

When I went to Athens, Greece, and looked around the prison of Socrates, I thought of this question.

The prison where Socrates was locked up was not far from Acropolis overlooking the city of Athens. I visited Acropolis and stopped by Socrates' prison on my way down.

Socrates (469-399 BC) was a Greek philosopher known for his term "know yourself". He is a founder of Western philosophy with Plato, a disciple of Plato, and Aristotle, a disciple of Plato. He valued enlightenment through question-and-answer methods, awareness of ignorance, and moral and ascetic life. However, he was accused of "not believing in the gods that the Athenians believe in, and misleading young people."

The trial of Socrates was attended by Athenian citizens as jurors. The trial was conducted in an extremely 'democratic' way. He was convicted by 500 jurors in the first trial by a narrow margin.

But he didn't plead guilty to him. Rather, he criticized the convicted jurors. As a result, in the trial he received again, he was sentenced to death by jurors for the contempt of court

Socrates could have fled when he was imprisoned after being sentenced to death. His disciples advised him to flee abroad. The prison guard even left the door open for him to escape. But Socrates did not leave the prison door, and was glad to drink poison. The Book of Apology, also known as "The Death of Socrates", by Plato, introduces this process in detail.

Why was Socrates poisoned? Why didn't he want to live? To sum up "The Death of Socrates", Socrates refused forced acceptance. He pursued a life of doing good, a life of practicing moral will. He regarded it as the value of life. That's why he didn't run away and took the poison.

Athens, where Socrates lived, was a city-state where ancient democracy blossomed. Adult men had the right to vote. They also decided whether to go to war or surrender by expressing their intentions with white and black stones. A large number of jurors also participated in the trial of suspected criminals, and the sentence was decided by a majority vote.

Socrates' trial involved 500 jurors. Socrates was also given a chance to "excuse" the jury. As such, his trial was not a one-sided 'people's trial'.

However, Athens' democracy did not recognize the Great Philosopher. Athens sentenced him to death. The dangers of this Athenian democracy affect his disciple Plato. Plato thinks that philosopher king, not democracy, is ideal politics. Plato's 'Republic' contains such an idea.

How healthy is our democracy now? I wonder how different Korea is from Athens at that time. It's a matter for everyone to think deeply.

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