[EDITORIALS]A president on hunger strikeIt was recently reported that Park Jae-yoon, president of Busan National University, had begun an indefinite hunger strike inside his school in support of a plan to build a second campus in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang province.
Watching Mr. Park's sit-down demonstration, we are at a loss. He served as a Blue House senior secretary for economic affairs and as finance minister and commerce minister in the early 1990s. Mr. Park reportedly began his action as the university's plan for the second campus, which has been progressing for several years, hit a wall; the Busan Metropolitan City Government and local politicians opposed the plan and demanded that the new campus be built in Gijang-gun, Busan.
Whether Busan National University builds its second campus in Yangsan or Gijang is not a matter in which we should intervene. Still, a university president is a symbol of intellect and the teacher of youngsters preparing for the future. He should pay special attention to his choice of every word and action, and should be distinguishable from ordinary people. As Mr. Park himself acknowledged at a press conference, a hunger strike is an "abnormal and shameful" move for a university president. People and special interest groups in our society continuously carry out group actions and demonstrations. Under such deplorable circumstances, even a university president joined a hunger strike. How can we possibly find him different from ordinary men? We worry what lessons students will learn from such a teacher.
It is important to consider why the situation has gotten to this point. The government of Busan and the university never listened to each other, but only raised their own voices. The Education Ministry has done nothing. How can the problem be solved in this way? In order to clear doubts that the Busan government's argument is a strategy to win votes at local elections, the city should begin sincere talks with the university, instead of fretting that Busan's industry will suffer from a brain drain. If the city fails to persuade the university after serious talks, the university should make its final choice in order to enhance the school's competitiveness. Mr. Park should stop his hunger strike and resolve the dispute through talks.