[EDITORIALS]Political lessons in Busan

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[EDITORIALS]Political lessons in Busan

Politics didn't matter much the moment Korea kicked the ball into Poland's net, for everyone was hugging his neighbor and uniting as one in celebration. The vulgar back-alley language that has been employed in dividing the country lately -- the politics of conflict and hostility -- couldn't rear its ugly head in the face of national reconciliation and some very inspiring soccer. The same politicians who had failed to agree on a new speaker and committee heads at the National Assembly, and were therefore unable to send their new Assembly speaker to the opening festivities, suddenly looked ridiculous when compared to all the harmony and cheering. The presidential candidates Lee Hoi-chang and Roh Moo-hyun were surely able to feel the extremes of old-style politics and the soccer of hope as they cheered on with everyone else at Busan.

We have Guus Hiddink and his vision, preparation and principles to thank for the moving drama. Then there is the combined passion and control of Korea's team members, who turned what they had learned into some beautiful moves. Hiddink rid Korean soccer of the chronic illnesses that have plagued it for years by working on fundamental physical strength, placing greater emphasis on teamwork, long- term planning, avoiding the use of personal "connections" in choosing players, and fair competition. It would be a good lesson for the politicians to learn from, given how they always seem to operate using foul play and other illegalities, mafia-style cliques and preferential treatment, tricks and maneuvering. Tuesday's match provided particularly pertinent lessons for candidates and party leaders who have lowered themselves to new levels of negative strategy during campaigns for the upcoming regional elections.

There are answers to be found in the achievements of Korean soccer that would be applicable in transforming Korean politics. Political leaders need to lend an ear to the desires of the people, for the people want to see their political leaders wash their hands of confrontational divisions of region, class, and generations in order to create a new political climate of reconciliation and progress.
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