[EDITORIALS]Time to End This Senseless Bickering

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[EDITORIALS]Time to End This Senseless Bickering

The public believes there is no remedy for what ails Korean politics, and the National Assembly is acting to support that conclusion. Only a day after a meeting between the ruling and opposition party leaders, the Assembly's operations were crippled. It is deplorable that the session was deadlocked just after President Kim and the Grand National Party president, Lee Hoi-chang, agreed to lay partisanship aside.

We recall that it did not take long for clashes to resume after seven earlier meetings between party leaders. Nevertheless, we cherished some hope after Tuesday's meeting. The two men agreed on "cooperation rising above partisanship," in the wake of concerns that the economy will worsen because of the war against terrorism launched by the United States. But the old evil practices reappeared. We do not understand how the ruling and opposition parties could say dramatically that the summit meeting was successful and laid a foundation of mutual confidence.

The National Assembly broke down after Representative Ahn Taek-soo of the Grand National Party criticized President Kim Dae-jung's remarks about the 1950-53 Korean War. The Millennium Democratic Party had reason to be angry; Mr. Ahn called on Mr. Kim to resign, treating the president "as if he were a communist or an idiot," as one MDP legislator put it. Mr. Ahn insisted that he only reflected his constituency's view. But even if that is so, he should have been more temperate to prevent the National Assembly session from another breakdown. Perhaps President Kim Dae-jung should not have referred to North Korea's aggression as comparable to attempts to unify the Korean Peninsula by the ancient Shilla and Koryo kingdoms, though the Blue House said he was merely stressing that unification should be achieved through peaceful means. But Mr. Ahn's request for the president's resignation was an unwarranted political attack.

The Millennium Democratic Party's reaction was not proper, either. The ruling party legislators did not pay much attention to Mr. Ahn's comments at first, but, after being rebuked by the Blue House, they began a belated counterattack. The actions by the two parties' leaders were also regrettable; they should have tried to prevent the National Assembly session from breaking down and, by implication, treating the summit meeting between the leaders of the two parties as a superficial event. Such efforts are the minimum of decorum the public expects, and the Millennium Democratic Party reacted too emotionally.

The leadership of the Grand National Party is also to blame for making no efforts to tone down the remarks by Mr. Ahn in advance, even though it knew or should have known that such a remark would cause an uproar.

On Thursday, the second day of the crippled National Assembly operations, Representative Kim Yong-kap of the Grand National Party criticized the Kim Dae-jung administration for being pro-North Korea. In response, the Millennium Democratic Party called Mr. Kim "a cancer on the state."

Let's get this settled. The speaker should intervene, and the lawmakers should apologize for their intemperance. Mr. Ahn and Mr. Kim should retract their outrageous comments. Mr. Ahn argues that the leaders of the ruling and opposition parties did not agree to cooperate on issues related to domestic politics, but in this situation, any cooperation on anything is impossible.

Public trust in the political sector has deteriorated enough without allowing these shouting matches to continue.
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