[EDITORIALS]The Calculations Over Lim's FateWhether or not Unification Minister Lim Dong-won keeps his job will be decided Monday. That Mr. Lim has no other choice but to step down is a reasonable assumption.
The series of incidents surrounding the motion to dismiss him bore witness to the instability of Korean politics, as shrewd politicians stuck to their causes to gain advantageous positions. The conflict within the ruling coalition is an explosion of the contradictions arising from an alliance that was formed to pursue gains regardless of difference in political ideology and values. The people are demanding settlement of the Lim matter quickly and asking the politicians to manage government affairs with the priority put on the well-being of the people; they are fed up with the confusion and selfishness of the politicians.
The attitude of President Kim Dae-jung on Mr. Lim is at the center of the confusion. The president's understanding that the dismissal of Mr. Lim is not only a matter of domestic politics but also a matter critical for the future of the people of the Korean Peninsula puts too much emphasis on the recent political wrangle. Even so, it is hard to persuade others that Mr. Lim's dismissal is in fact the failure of President Kim's "sunshine policy" of tolerance toward North Korea. The sunshine policy is based on President Kim's struggle for 45 years for the unification of Korean Peninsula. Mr. Lim took the president's line of North Korea policies at the end of the 1990s only as a high-ranking official to put them into practice. Therefore it is puzzling why the president Kim should put such weight on the dismissal of Mr. Lim.
It is simplicity itself for Mr. Kim to perceive that the dismissal of his minister is an international issue that involves North Korea. Most people know that it is a basic rule to impose penalties and question the political responsibility of actions that violate law and fundamental principles in Korean society. North Korea must be aware of this. Such procedures will also contribute to managing the visit of the North Korea leader, Kim Jong-il to Seoul and to stable and predictable North-South exchanges. The government's rigid overemphasis of the importance of Mr. Lim's fate may hamper the current drive to promote North Korean policies. Therefore we propose that it would be wise for Mr. Lim to conclude this confusion by resigning voluntarily.
Something is unclear in the attitude of the United Liberal Democrats. Their notion that they can push for a vote but stay in the coalition leaves an underplot that makes people uncomfortable. It may give the impression that the United Liberal Democrats only aim to hold on to the advantages of coalition with the ruling party. Kim Jong-pil, the honorary president of the United Liberal Democrats, should resolve to play a fair game and solidify the party's conservative identity. Taking advantage of the current political fuss to further his aspiration to become president would only add to the confusion over his party's identity.
The matter of Mr. Lim will have serious side effects no matter how it is settled in the National Assembly. The split of the ruling coalition would have negative effects to both parties. But it might offer an opportunity for the Millennium Democrats to renew their government management as a minority party. And it could also enable the government to broaden its spectrum beyond the limits of the coalition. The United Liberal Democrats should seek to stand on their own and risk their parliamentary position as a negotiating party. The coaltion should seek to tread the path of virtue and deviate from the calculation of gains and losses surrounding the dismissal of Mr. Lim.