[EDITORIALS]Mr. Kim's Big DecisionKim Jong-pil, honorary chairman of the United Liberal Democrats, returned from Japan on Tuesday to a welcoming crowd that resembled the complexity and intricacy of South Korean politics. Only Monday criticism poured in about Mr. Kim's frequent golfing, but he has already returned to the vortex of political change. The argument that Mr. Kim will become the presidential candidate to represent both the ruling Millennium Democratic Party and his party, has silently secured its place in next year's presidential elections. The big political picture will change depending on where Mr. Kim will stand on the dismissal of the Unification Minister Lim Dong-won, which the MDP opposes and the opposition Grand National Party endorses.
Mr. Kim's brilliant acrobatics that leap between the cracks of the antagonism that separates the MDP and the GNP, is bringing disbelief to both the ruling and opposition camps. Political circles are on edge over the decision Mr. Kim will make during talks with President Kim Dae-jung to be held soon. But Kim Jong-pil's position is unclear. He pledged, "I will not break the cooperative relationship with the ruling Millennium Democratic Party," but his party holds that Mr. Lim should be discharged from office. There are even views that Mr. Kim, who said "There is a middle road," will propose to the president reshuffling the cabinet and replacing Mr. Lim before the National Assembly votes on Mr. Lim's dismissal.
However, there should be principles and benchmarks even to the "strategic vagueness" and "rhetorical politics," particular of Mr. Kim. His party's identity lies in the conservatism and inclination toward stability that it has manifested. The United Liberal Democrats has so far claimed that Mr. Lim should be held responsible for the ministry's easygoing assessment and slipshod policy decisions that led to a fierce ideological strife and a divisive public opinion. The party's identity on inter-Korean relations lies in its support for stable and step-by-step exchanges and cooperation between the two Koreas. If Mr. Kim disregards this fact, his vagueness so far will be criticized as a strategic move to make things difficult for the Millennium Democratic Party and thus increase his political gains. Our attention is on Mr. Kim's political decision.
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