By Choi Sun-min
There are two ironic characters who love each other in Milan Kundera’s famous novel “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.”
The relationship between Tomas, a talented doctor and notorious womanizer, and his wife Tereza is full of contradictions. Although meeting countless women, Tomas truly loves Tereza. For him, she is the only one different from ordinary women. Thus his love for her is inevitable.
Meanwhile, Tereza needed someone to help her get away from her mother who had ruined her life, and Tomas is her way to escape from her miserable past. For her, Tomas was her savior but it didn’t really matter who he was. Her love for him began as a mere happenstance.
Kundera expressed the ironic nature of being itself through Tomas and Theresa by showing the interior truths that oppose the superficial exterior. Since existence itself has both heavy and light attributes at the same time, we may not be able to bear the lightness of being?and love.
As a lawyer, I feel Tomas and Tereza when I look at the relationship between law and new technology. New technology seems to symbolize lightness, like Tomas. It has a desire to create something new and to be free.?However, technology and people who work in that space really want new laws to be enacted and regulations that simultaneously control and promote them.?They want freedom and restriction simultaneously.
Laws and regulations seem to symbolize heaviness. Like Tereza, people from the government want technology to be controlled and established within the system. But at the same time, legislation lacks passion and only appears to fear the effects that new technology will bring. They meet new technology only with hesitation. The contradictions that Kundera wrote about in his novel can be applied to law and technology.
As a typical example, I would point to blockchain and cryptocurrencies. It has been over a year since the Korean government declared a full-blown negative opinion against cryptocurrencies last September, but there is still no actual law defining or regulating a cryptocurrency. Everyone wants to hear the voice of the government, even if cryptocurrencies were born in an attempt to escape the centralized government system of banking and finance.
However, the government and the National Assembly remain silent. They want to promote blockchain and distributed ledger technology by words alone, without legislation. They love blockchain but hate cryptocurrency, even if the two can’t be separated. They are bound together in irony.
Back to the novel. There are a lot of implications that derive from the fact Tereza seized on her opportunity to escape her life when Tomas came by chance to her small town and met her, equally fortuitously. What matters in love and in life is a thing called “timing.” This is also true with technology law.
Choi Sun-min is a junior associate at HMP Law and a member of the Tech & Comms team.