[EDITORIALS]Regionalism by pep rally
Politicians are stressing regional prowess and solidarity in their first gatherings of the new year. Remarks based on regionalism are being spoken at meetings of Gyeongsang provinces and Chungcheong provinces natives based in Seoul. "Daegu and North Gyeongsang province should try harder this year," said Kim Soo-han, former speaker of the National Assembly, in a new year party held in Seoul. "It is time our region finds its voice," said Kim Joon-sung, the former deputy prime minister for finance and economy. Similar remarks were made in gatherings of people who hail from Chungcheong province. "We should try to get a person from Chungcheong province elected as president," said Yoo Geun-chang, the president of Choongwoo, a society for Chungcheong natives. "This will be the first time in history a president will be from Chungcheong," Kim Yong-rae, the president of Chungcheong Leaders, predicted. The speakers said their words were purely out of a love for their home region. However, these are remarks about showing regional prowess before the presidential election and about getting a candidate from their own region elected. This is a depressing omen that this year's presidential election will yet again turn into regional competition. The public is already angered by the recent string of bribery scandals, which revealed a sense of regional brotherhood. The sight of politicians calling for their own region's solidarity while criticizing the Kim Dae-jung administration for regional favoritism does not help the matter. "North Gyeongsang province must unite in order to gather the votes that we lost in the past 10 years." This statement by Kim Man-je, a GNP lawmaker, could be seen as a call for regionalism. Talk about a Yeongnam candidate, Honam solidarity, and Chungcheong solidarity from the Millennium Democratic Party are also attempts to gain political leverage by appealing to regionalism. Janus-faced tendencies on regionalism always emerge during presidential elections. The politicians cry for rooting out regionalism but appeal to it for their own interest. Deep self-examination is needed by politicians and other leaders of society.