[EDITORIALS]Lights! Camera! Candidates!Presidential hopefuls within the ruling Millennium Democratic Party will begin appearing on television this week. This country witnessed the subtle yet powerful effect of television discussions at the last presidential election, in 1997. Five years ago, candidates appeared in earnest with the in-house nomination process of the-then New Korea Party, the predecessor of the Grand National Party. A relatively unknown candidate then, Representative Rhee In-je, made a dramatic debut to the top of the polls after talking on television. Ever since, television discussions for politicians have become a factor that can make or break a candidate's ambitions. Thus, demands and expectations of the public regarding a candidate's television appearances are high and varied.
First, a television appearance should function as an effective tool to bar money that might stain an election. South Korea faces a full slate of elections this year. In January, the nation will vote on its municipal and provincial educational superintendents, the ruling Millennium Democratic Party holds its nominations in April, there are local elections in June, by-elections for the National Assembly in August and the presidential election in December. With the most number of elections in a year in Korean history, the temptation to buy votes or receive money for votes will be strong. The Millennium Democratic Party's innovative political experiment to nominate both its party leader and its presidential candidate through a nationwide electoral body is expected to cost each candidate at least 10 billion won ($7.7 million). There is speculation that a large number of political brokers will flock together to get their shares at the ruling party's experiment. Thus, presidential hopefuls should actively think up ways to use television appearances to reach out to the public, and not by simply throwing around cash.
More than anything, television debate should serve as a forum that contributes to reviving a "politics of mutual confidence." In the political turmoil and various corruption scandals that have occurred during the current administration, we witnessed many political figures changing their words and shifting sides without any principles. Trust in politics has plummeted. Television debate should serve as a forum where trust in politics can be restored.
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