[EDITORIALS]Where the hopefuls stand

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[EDITORIALS]Where the hopefuls stand

A new trend seems to be slowly emerging as Korean voters face a daunting task ahead of electing a new president this year. There are signs that the conditions that affected voters during the so-called era of the three political bosses, known as the "Three Kims," are receding in power, and constituents are showing a marked change in thinking. Candidates who had been held back by regional, school and blood ties are moving forward, presenting policies and ideologies in an attempt to appeal to voters. By doing so, they are opening new possibilities for Korean politics and voters to upgrade the political culture. The JoongAng Ilbo's special report on the presidential hopefuls' ideological and policy orientation is expected to accelerate the shift.

Holding an election of "policy and vision" is the challenge of the moment for Korea's politics. During the Three Kims-era, the candidates failed to differentiate themselves in terms of policy and vision. If one of their policies looked good, the other candidates copied it. If a candidate put forth a divergent policy or suggested change in ideological orientation, "Red Scare" immediately dominated the election. But now we see a will on the part of the voters to determine which candidate's vision and ideology on running the country befits the new century, and which policies based on this vision and ideology will enhance the country's competitiveness. This demand comes from a public that desires to be free from "negative campaigns," which is an "alternative evil." To meet that demand, there should be opportunities to examine the candidates on their policy and ideological positions.

We believe that the JoongAng Ilbo's analysis of the politicians' and presidential hopefuls' policies and ideological orientation on 20 sensitive and pending issues will be a valuable opportunity for the electorate. We only regret that Roh Moo-hyun, a ruling primary candidate, has refused to respond to the survey, claiming that the results may be used in a "Red Scare" attack against him. The voters are mature enough to reject a tactic of this type. They are relying on the political barometer of ideology, a concoction of belief, conviction and position on issues, which gives substance to a policy. The JoongAng Ilbo will continue these special reports to elect a "CEO-style" president who will upgrade the nation and its politics.

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