American physician John Linton, born in South Korea, hopes to defuse the nation’s turbulent politics
SEOUL – American physician John Linton, who was born in South Korea, is on a mission that no foreigner has ever undertaken in ethnically homogenous South Korea: making an attempt to destroy the nation’s deeply conflicted politics.
Born within the rural province of Jeolla, Linton is nicknamed “blue-eyed Korean” and speaks the language completely, although with a robust regional accent.
He is well-known on this nation due to his household’s deep ties to the nation, going again 4 generations.
His great-grandfather first got here to Korea as a missionary in 1895, he advised AFP, and the household by no means left – his grandmother and father have been additionally born within the nation.
“I used to be born in 1959 after the Korean War,” Linton, whose Korean title is Ihn Yohan, advised AFP.
“Basically I grew up within the village. So, I’m a rustic boy from Jeollado with a unique look.”
Aside from a number of years out of state, together with his medical residency in New York, Linton has spent his complete life in Korea, graduating from the celebrated Seoul Yonsei University after which heading an International Healthcare Center of the establishment all through the years.
But now he has taken on a brand new problem: he has been put in control of the ruling People’s Power Party’s “Innovation Committee”, tasked with reforming the state establishment and making the occasion extra aggressive by interesting to younger voters. .
– A Changing Korea –
It’s no simple job: two years into his time period, President Yoon Suk Yeol is caught with approval scores languishing within the low 30s, and the highest chief and the occasion significantly unpopular amongst younger Koreans.
In addition, South Korean politics is very adversarial, with many former presidents being prosecuted and imprisoned for corruption after leaving energy — and later pardoned.
Linton is assured he is usually a drive for change.
“I’ve acquired a lot from this nation… Now it’s my flip to provide it again,” he stated.
His personal appointment “reveals you ways a lot Korea has modified”, he advised AFP.
“We will hint a brand new course and make it extra pluralistic,” he stated.
Stories concerning the Linton household have lengthy captivated the South Korean public for his or her contribution to life and their love of nation.
Linton’s grandfather, William Linton, tried to boost worldwide consciousness of the nation’s independence motion in opposition to Japanese colonial rule and was later awarded the order of advantage.
His father, Hugh Linton, was a Korean War veteran, serving as a captain within the US Navy.
Linton himself acted as an interpreter for the overseas press throughout a civilian rebellion for democracy within the metropolis of Gwangju in 1980, which was brutally put down by army strongman Chun Doo-hwan, and killed round 200, in keeping with official estimates.
He then grew to become the primary foreigner to go the medical license examination in South Korea in 1987.
– ‘American, however Korean’ –
“I’m American first, however Korean. And I’ve a whole lot of love from my hometown in Korea and all the things in my life is invested in Korea,” the 63-year-old, who was awarded Korean citizenship in 2012 as recognition of their contributions to the nation.
After his father was severely injured in a automobile accident and died whereas being transported to a hospital in 1984, he labored tirelessly to convey higher ambulances to Korea, designing a home mannequin utilized in a lot.
His medical work additionally prolonged to North Korea, the place he tried to “assist finish tuberculosis” within the reclusive nation, fondly recalling working with “very educated” North Korean medical doctors.
It was “very stunning” for North Koreans to see an American – Pyongyang’s sworn enemy – communicate good Korean, he recalled.
His work within the nuclear weapons nation as a health care provider bolstered his views that geopolitics shouldn’t be allowed to override the humanitarian crucial.
“There ought to be quite a bit much less sanctions that cease humanitarian support. I believe that is a mistake,” he stated.
Linton first acquired concerned in politics in 2013 when he labored on the transition committee of then President Park Geun-hye. But he says the stakes are increased this time, calling his new job “crucial factor in my complete life”.
President Yoon has been a staunch defender, saying that a lot of the general public had a foul opinion of the nation’s supreme chief. “He just isn’t a (skilled) politician,” he stated, including that there was a “misunderstanding of how exhausting he works”.
After the tip of his two-month tenure with the occasion, there’s hypothesis within the Korean media that he’ll run for parliament — if profitable, he could be the nation’s first Caucasian lawmaker.
But Linton refuses to attract the longer term past his need to serve his nation, telling AFP: “Let’s overlook about what comes after this.”